On the Divide: The Many Lives of Willa Cather

Overview

Willa Cather’s fiction frequently plays out on “the divide,” the high prairie land of Nebraska, where the author herself lived as a child. This book suggests that Cather’s own life played out on a divide as well, deliberately measured out between different roles and personae that made their way into her writing.
 
On the Divide analyzes the iconic image that Cather helped develop for herself, in contrast to the anonymous face she adopted ...

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Overview

Willa Cather’s fiction frequently plays out on “the divide,” the high prairie land of Nebraska, where the author herself lived as a child. This book suggests that Cather’s own life played out on a divide as well, deliberately measured out between different roles and personae that made their way into her writing.
 
On the Divide analyzes the iconic image that Cather helped develop for herself, in contrast to the anonymous face she adopted for promotional activities and the very different private self she shared only with friends and family. Delving into Cather’s correspondence and the little-known promotional material she produced anonymously, David Porter provides new insight into the extent—and direction—of her control. He also considers the contrasting influences of Mary Baker Eddy, whose biography Cather ghostwrote, and Sarah Orne Jewett on the author’s emerging artistic persona. The study goes on to explore the many ways in which these “divides” in Cather’s life found expression in her writing. Extending from Cather’s early stories to her final novel, Porter’s book documents the degree to which Cather’s understanding of her own different and often conflicting sides, and of her penchant for playing diverse roles, enabled her as a novelist to create characters so torn, so complex, and so profoundly human.

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Editorial Reviews

Legacy

"Porter's work signals new paths for future scholarship, uncovering complex threads that run between Cather's ideals of art and the realities of her twentieth-century literary marketplace."—Michael Schueth, Legacy

— Michael Schueth

Nebraska Life

"If you can handle a tough, honest look at the personality and work of a Nebraska icon, if you are a Nebraskan who understands where our State''s real power in this world and its history lies, then this is a volume you will find to be as fascinating as a spicy mystery novel."—Roger Welsch, Nebraska Life

— Roger Welsch

Oxford Journals

"As a narrative of a conflicted consciousness, a portrait of an artist, and as a forensic piece of literary scholarship, Porter''s book is a splendid achievement."—Catherine Morley, Oxford Journals

— Catherine Morley

Nebraska History

"Written for general readers, not just those with an esoteric knowledge of Cather scholarship, Porter''s book will be enlightening for anyone who wants another view of Nebraska''s premier author."—Becky Faber, Nebraska History

— Becky Faber

Nebraska Life - Roger Welsch

"If you can handle a tough, honest look at the personality and work of a Nebraska icon, if you are a Nebraskan who understands where our State's real power in this world and its history lies, then this is a volume you will find to be as fascinating as a spicy mystery novel."—Roger Welsch, Nebraska Life
Oxford Journals - Catherine Morley

"As a narrative of a conflicted consciousness, a portrait of an artist, and as a forensic piece of literary scholarship, Porter's book is a splendid achievement."—Catherine Morley, Oxford Journals
Nebraska History - Becky Faber

"Written for general readers, not just those with an esoteric knowledge of Cather scholarship, Porter's book will be enlightening for anyone who wants another view of Nebraska's premier author."—Becky Faber, Nebraska History
Legacy - Michael Schueth

"Porter's work signals new paths for future scholarship, uncovering complex threads that run between Cather's ideals of art and the realities of her twentieth-century literary marketplace."—Michael Schueth, Legacy
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803232792
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska Paperback
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 0.93 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author


David Porter is the Tisch Family Distinguished Professor at Skidmore College. He is the author of Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press: “Riding a Great Horse” and Horace’s Poetic Journey: A Reading of Odes 1–3.
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