My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.8 243
by Willa Cather

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My Ántonia, by Willa Cather, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:…  See more details below


My Ántonia, by Willa Cather, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

“No romantic novel ever written in America . . . is one half so beautiful as My Ántonia.” —H. L. Mencken

Widely recognized as Willa Cather’s greatest novel, My Ántonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman’s simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. A fictional record of how women helped forge the communities that formed a nation, My Ántonia is also a hauntingly eloquent celebration of the strength, courage, and spirit of America’s early pioneers.

Gordon Tapper is Assistant Professor of English at DePauw University. He is the author of The Machine That Sings: Modernism, Hart Crane, and the Culture of the Body, from Routledge.

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Product Details

Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
Barnes & Noble Classics Series
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Product dimensions:
8.02(w) x 5.28(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
4 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Gordon Tapper's Introduction to My Ántonia

In one of Jewett's most important letters to Cather, she addresses the relationship between fiction and its autobiographical sources in words that would resonate deeply with the narrative design of My Ántonia. Jewett was concerned that Cather had not yet learned to see her "backgrounds . . . from the outside,—you stand right in the middle of each of them when you write, without having the standpoint of the looker-on" (quoted in Lee, p. 22). In My Ántonia, Cather makes just this kind of effort to see her experience "from the outside" by inventing Jim Burden, the transformed version of herself who serves as the first-person narrator. In addition to giving Jim many of her own experiences, Cather sets him on a journey into his past that echoes the imaginative reconstruction of her own childhood. In the introduction that establishes the narrative framework for My Ántonia, we learn that Jim is a very successful middle-aged man—"legal counsel for one of the great Western railways"—living in New York. Like Cather, who also lived most of her adult life in Manhattan, he is therefore geographically and culturally remote from his small-town origins. As Jewett suggested, Cather's appreciation for her provincial "parish" would be made possible by her knowledge of the wider world, and Cather places Jim in a similar position. But if Jim represents a fictional alter ego who allows Cather to observe her own return to the past from the "standpoint of the looker-on," Cather begins the novel by very explicitly distinguishing herself from her narrator.

Cather revisits her Nebraska childhood in several of her early novels, but it is only in My Ántonia that she creates an intriguing dialogue between herself and one of her characters, which occurs in a brief introductory section of the novel. Instead of writing from the point of view of Jim, as she does everywhere else in the novel, Cather adopts the voice of a first-person narrator who meets Jim by chance aboard a train. Although she never names this speaker, Cather suggests that it is yet another version of herself, since she very unobtrusively reveals that the narrator is both a woman and an experienced writer. (In order to distinguish Cather the author from this female narrator, who never reappears in the novel proper, many critics refer to the narrator as "Cather.") The narrator and Jim are old friends who grew up together in a small Nebraska town, and during their reminiscences they talk fondly of Ántonia, who "seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood".

Although Jim and the narrator agree that Ántonia somehow embodies the essence of their childhood, their individual relationships to her differ in several critical ways. Unlike the narrator, who has lost touch with her, Jim has reestablished a close friendship with Ántonia. When Jim expresses his surprise that the narrator has "never written anything about Ántonia," the narrator confesses that she had never known Ántonia as well as he had. The two then agree that they will both try recording their memories of this "central figure" of their past. Jim cautions, however, that he is not a practiced writer (implying that "Cather" is) and will therefore have to write about Ántonia "in a direct way, and say a great deal about myself. It's through myself that I knew and felt her". In response, the narrator draws attention to the distinction between their male and female perspectives:

I told him that how he knew her and felt her was exactly what I
most wanted to know about Ántonia. He had had opportunities that I, as
a little girl who watched her come and go, had not.

On one level, the narrator is simply trying to reassure Jim that there is nothing wrong with writing about himself in the process of remembering Ántonia, but Cather also seems to be offering an indirect justification for adopting a male persona in her novel. Behind the essentially transparent mask of "Cather" the narrator, Cather the author is asserting that the female perspective of "a little girl" will not do Ántonia justice, because it does not allow her to understand Ántonia as the object of someone's desire. Cather thought of Ántonia as her heroine, yet she gives the reader very little access to Ántonia's inner life, which is only conveyed secondhand through Jim's perspective. By allowing Jim to control the narrative, Cather distances the reader from Ántonia, but it is precisely because Cather wants to imagine a man's feelings for Ántonia that she wrote the novel from a man's point of view.

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My Antonia 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 243 reviews.
JSAlex000 More than 1 year ago
Since contemporary novels seldom draw me in and retain my interest past the first 60 pages, I sometimes pursue the bookstore for quality classic literature that I have yet to read. Thanks B&N for including Willa Cather's My Antonia in your Classic Series. Although relatively well-educated and well-read, I discovered this novel when browsing in-store. Cather's story-telling style and vivid descriptions transported me to a different time and place while her character development prompted me to continue reading. The quality of the story made it a page-turner and one of the two novels I have enjoyed reading most in the last 10 years.
Emilsay More than 1 year ago
This dynamic novel does what too many contemporary novels fail to do- it portrays heartbreakingly authentic characters without drowning the reader in nonessential details. This style of writing allows the story to become personal to the reader as he or she subconsciously fills the unexpressed components with his or her own unique thought process. As the principal character discovers his own personal "patria" {home, or rather, home of the heart} the reader cannot help but to reflect upon their own "patria". Perhaps this, out of many other contributing factors, was the most essential element in creating this American masterpiece. With a flawlessly imperfect setting and ruggedly realist situations, Miss Cather's writing simply jumps off the page and captures the very mind, heart, and soul of the reader.
book-a-holick More than 1 year ago
I will read this book over and over, every 5 years or so. The writing style (may I please call it lyrical?) is beautiful, separate and apart from the story-line. And the story-line complements the style. I was never bored. I never felt hurried reading this. I was sorry when I got to the end of the book. It is an experience, a journey, with a satisfactory ending, totally unexpected, but 'just right'. I learned a lot about this time period, but mostly, I fell in love with the characters and the story. And I keep musing about what might come next if the author had kept writing...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather¿s My Antonia is a timeless masterpiece in literature. The coming of age story of Jim Burden is told in a way that allows the book to withstand the ages of time. The setting, plot, and theme of the story along with other elements give the story a depth, and realness, that few novels achieve. My Antonia tells the story of Jim Burden as he grows up on his grandparents¿ farm in Nebraska around the turn of the century. Embedded in the story line of this novel are many literary themes. The coming of age story with Jim shows how he grows from a boy to a teenager, and finally becomes an adult. The trials that Jims goes through and the lessons he learns in his life show how people have to work hard at life and try their best to become the person they want to be. Another theme of this book is to appreciate the people around you and what you are surrounded by. At times in the novel Jim and Antonia don¿t get along and they dislikes each other. But in the end, Jim realizes that despite their disagreements and differences Jim still needs and values her (as she does him) and wants to stay friends with Antonia. The themes of this novel surround the fact of how the people around individuals shape who they are and who they are going to become in their life. Another part of this book that makes it so amazing is the characters. The characters of this book are so believable and their problems make them easier for you to relate to despite the 100-year time difference in setting. In the beginning, the title character Antonia has just immigrated to Nebraska with her family from Bohemia. Throughout the book, all the hard work Antonia has to do to help support her family after her father¿s death, and the way she almost loses herself in the town life but the finds herself again in the end, gives her a realness and a sense of strength to all readers. Jim Burden, the protagonist of the book, gives the story depth as he struggles with inner conflicts. As Jim is growing up he wants to please his grandparents but he also wants to live life and get away from the small town he has grown up in and their image of him as a little boy. The supporting characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Shimerda (Antonia¿s parents), Jim¿s grandfather, and Lena Lingard, also add to and complete the story by creating conflict and helping the two main characters. The lessons characters learn and the way they grow as people also gives the story a realistic feel because the struggles of Jim and Antonia are problems that people could face in real life. The literary element of setting has given My Antonia a very fitting world. Although it is not obvious exactly when the story takes place it is obvious that the novel is set in Black Hawk, Nebraska, sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century. The fact that this book is set in the country as opposed to the city gives it a much more laid back feel and causes you to focus more on the people and their stories without the distracting hustle and bustle of the city. The lack of great importance or activity in the setting, gives the story over completely to plot and character development. Without having to focus on keeping track of an ever-changing setting it is possible for the reader to focus more on aspects of the story such as Antonia and her family, Jim and his family, and the relationship between the two. Two final literary elements in My Antonia are the point of view and plot. Told in 1st person by Jim Burden, the point of view of this story gives Jim a deepness as you get to look at all of his thought and feelings. This point of view also allows you to look at one of the major conflicts of the plot, Jim vs. his inner self. Jim is trying to find and become the kind of person he wants to be beyond high school and find his own identity. There are other plots of the story as well but this plot wouldn¿t be possible if the book were told from a different point of view. Other plots of the story include the ups and dow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just graduated with a BA in English and throughout my time at college I have read My Antonia three times because it is by FAR my favorite book of all time. (I suppose it helps when your favorite professor is a Willa Cather expert). Originally it was a book I stumbled upon my senior year of high school and every time I read it, it offers me something new and I can't help but get sucked into the atmosphere Cather creates.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I was simply amazed at how timeless it is. There are far too many people who become concerned with "page turners". While a reader should not expect to find that in this book, they should expect to find a character who moves their soul. This book truly captures the essence of what it meant to be an early american settler, and what it still means to be a woman. Cather makes it very easy to relate to Antonia. The only complaint that I have (and I admit it is superficial) is the ending. I would have liked to see it work out differently, but I understand why it ended the way it did. This is one of the few "classics" that celebrates the heritage of America.
readingissexy23 More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely stunning. Setting is the protagonist of this novel, Willa Cather did not disappoint!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A young Jim Burden is sent west in the early 1900's to live with his grandparents. On the train to his new house meets a young girl a couple of years older than he is. Although he doesn't know it, this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. After settling into his house on the plains of Nebraska, he ventures out to greet his new neighbor. Antonia Shimerda is her name and her family had immigrated from Bohemia. As Jim grows up he has many experiences with Antonia. When Jim is twelve, he and his family move into the nearby town, Black Hawk. Antonia also goes into town to find work. Because they belong to separate 'classes' they start to separate. As Jim settles down and continues his education, Antonia goes wild and goes to every town dance possible. After a failed marriage and an unwanted baby, Antonia moves back into the country to help her family's farm. Jim, meanwhile, transfers from the Lincoln University to Harvard. Forty years later Jim revisits Antonia to find her happily married and living a farm life full of content. Even though Antonia isn't as successful as Jim she seems to get more out of life. My Antonia is a wonderful piece of literature that shows the true meaning of happiness and the life and times of the early 1900's.
JAHNERS More than 1 year ago
Most of the time, I don't like books about immigrants; I have nothing against the immigrants themselves, but the books are usually written in a certain style, like the author is pretending that english is actually their second language. But I have always been a fan of the classics, and living in Nebraska (Willa Cather's Origin), I decided to give this a try. When I began the first page, I was pleasantly surprised that it not only wasn't that style at all, but that I actually couldn't put it down! The characters felt alive in the pages and relateable to anyone, no matter who was reading it. You get a glimpse of the original American Dream, too, which I love. This book is definately worth reading, give it a try.
JordanSkye More than 1 year ago
Upon first reading this book I thought it extremely simple and enjoyable. Although the whole concept wasn't profoundly enlightening it was most definitely an interesting book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to escape the heavy complex reads often assigned in colleges. You won't be dissapointed.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
- He Jumped Into Kyemes Arms - To Bad. HOLD ME! Wait, Hi, I'm, Olaf. Were here to save Elsa, and princess Kenny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
((Yeah.... I'm gonna go....)) Max ran off in the direction of camp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Limps out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is caught under the rubble the last thing she sees is a blinding flash and then everything goes black.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bck to camp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel &ldquo;My Antonia,&rdquo; by Willa Cather, is a great piece of work that explores the relationship one can have with their homeland and memories. Antonia, a girl from Bohemia who settles on the Nebraska prairie, possesses innocence and moral integrity. Her character embodies the naturalness, generosity, and abundance of the plains which helps us to value her family&rsquo;s deliberate transition to a new, fresh life on the prairie. Their new home is a land of dreams that is embraced by the sky during the time of harvest in significance to immigrants and their idealistic goals in America. However, once Antonia&rsquo;s father commits suicide and leaves her to a greedy and proud mother and self-centered brother, she begins to face the true meaning of hardship. Cather uses this tragedy to portray Antonia&rsquo;s strength in getting through the death of the one she loved most. This is the moment when the two children begin to grow up a bit, despite their young age. As they grow into their teenage years, Jim and Antonia begin to see how the real world works, despite them living in the rural part of Nebraska. Jim realizes that despite all of the great things his immigrant friends will do, they will always be seen as the &ldquo;hired girls.&rdquo; Antonia, on the other hand, after being left at the altar with a baby on the way, comes to the conclusion that she can&rsquo;t always only focus on the good in people because that is how she will be left disappointed and betrayed. Despite this, Jim nor Antonia never seem to forget what they have meant to one another, and Cather strongly employs this point. What gave the novel a sense of homesickness was the tone and appreciation Jim Burden had on Antonia as well as memories of a lost home. The novel is a great inspiration for reflection on your younger years and the values of your hometown. It opens a new perspective of an intimate perception one can have towards their homeland and youthful memories. Compared to other books, this piece of work explored more of human emotions and symbolism in characters and landscape settings. The characters represented different types of characteristics such as freedom and optimism that contributed to the story&rsquo;s plot and theme. Overall, this novel has earned respect throughout a large amount of readers. It has made many remember their past and reflect on their lives bringing them a feeling of homesickness and a walk down memory lane.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is well written. It contains much information about the settling of immigrants from Europe in Nebraska. The characters are well-drawn. I read it for a discussion group and recommend it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recently read My Antonia out of curiosity and fell in love. The writing style is beautiful, fluid, masterful, and captivating. On page 11, for example, the narrator says, &ldquo;There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made,&rdquo; a statement indicating the land is wild and untamed, yet to be conquered by the early settles. Similar statements throughout the book are thought provoking and engaging. The diction in the book works in more ways than that as well: as I learned more about Antonia, I learned more about the narrator, too. Their lives were so intertwined as children that they remained so as they grew; they molded each other, whether they realized it or not. Hearing about Antonia&rsquo;s experiences also caused me, as a reader, to greater appreciate the sacrifices the early pioneers and settlers made to shape this country. The challenges Antonia faced were tragic; watching her overcome them, however, made me want to cheer her on. In a way, she can be considered an early feminist because of her determination to work as hard as a man and fill her father&rsquo;s role. While she was not a hard core feminist, she still displays some of those characteristics early on in the novel. It&rsquo;s fascinating to watch her ideals change towards the end as she shifts away from her previous ideals and becomes more open to the traditional roles of a woman and embraces them as well. At first, she is as wild and untamed as the land in both her mannerisms and actions. As the novel progresses, however, she becomes more refined as the land also becomes more settled and cultivated. She grows with the land but never loses who she really is: Antonia. By, Sarah Schwarze
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