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Death Comes for the Archbishop

Death Comes for the Archbishop

3.5 33
by Willa Cather

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Introduction by A. S. Byatt


Introduction by A. S. Byatt

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A truly remarkable book . . . Soaked through and through with atmosphere . . . From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification.” --The New York Times

 "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the uiverse around us.” —Rebecca West

 “[Cather’s] descriptions of the Indian mesa towns on the rock are as beautiful, as unjudging, as lucid, as her descriptions of the Bishop’s cathedral. It is an art of ‘making,’ of clear depiction—of separate objects, whose whole effect works slowly and mysteriously in the reader, and cannot be summed up. . . . Cather’s composed acceptance of mystery is a major, and rare, artistic achievement.” —A. S. Byatt

Product Details

Perfection Learning Corporation
Publication date:
Vintage Classics Series
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

What People are Saying About This

A. S. Byatt
What intrigues me about [Cather] is the intelligence with which she combines her formidable learning in European art and literature with her 'new' uniformed or formless American subjects, the settlers and pioneers with their unrecorded lives and their diverse heritages.

Meet the Author

WILLA CATHER, author of twelve novels, including O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, was born in Virginia in 1873 but grew up in Nebraska, where many of her novels are set. She died in 1947 in New York City.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 7, 1873
Date of Death:
April 27, 1947
Place of Birth:
Winchester, Virginia
Place of Death:
New York, New York
B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Death Comes for the Archbishop 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Death Comes to The Archbishop by Willa Cather, 1927. The primary character is Bishop Jean Marie Latour, who travels with his friend and vicar Joseph Vaillant from Sandusky, Ohio to New Mexico to take charge of the newly established diocese of New Mexico, which has only just become a territory of the United States. At the time of his departure, Cincinnati is the end of the railway line west, so Latour must travel by riverboat to the Gulf of Mexico, and thence overland to New Mexico, a journey which takes an entire year. He spends the rest of his life establishing the Roman Catholic church in New Mexico, where he dies in old age. The novel is notable for its portrayal of two well-meaning and devout French priests who encounter a well-entrenched Spanish-Mexican clergy they are sent to supplant when the United States acquired New Mexico and the Vatican, in turn, remapped its dioceses. Several of these entrenched priests are depicted in classic manner as examples of greed, avarice and gluttony, while others live simple, abstemious lives among the Native Americans. Cather portrays the Hopi and Navajo sympathetically, and her characters express the near futility of overlaying their religion on a millennia-old native culture. Cather's vivid landscape descriptions are also memorable. A scene where a priest and his Native American guide take cover in an ancient cave during a blizzard is especially memorable for its superb portrayal of the combined forces of nature and culture. The only reason I give the book three stars is that the prose is only a narrative. She never shows anything, only tells.... There is no action to speak of. Ms. Cather sometimes covers years in one sentence, and other times writes paragraphs for one minute. The book reads easy and since I've traveled the areas described, I found it interesting.
Melissa_W More than 1 year ago
I have come to love (and expect) the beautiful nature descriptions in Willa Cather's books and "Death Comes for the Archbishop" is no exception. Cather captures both the wonder and desolation of nineteenth-century southwestern US/northwestern Mexico borderlands in a book that also explores the life choices of a man devoted to serving God. The only stumbling point I encountered was that I expected more plot than was given (the novel is entirely character-driven) but once I adjusted my expectations I had no futher issues with the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book by accident, thankfully so; it has become one of my favorites. This book gives us a glimpse of the goodness that can be found in humanity, it expresses our desire to strive for something higher than ourselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the story, the imagery, and the characters. I found myself going back and rereading pages just to savor the descriptions. Cather is truly a poet. I'm a better human for having read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of Cather's lesser known works, but exceptional nonetheless.  This book is definitely one of the top 100 American novels.  Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have any interest in the history of the Southwest, particularly New Mexico, you need to read this book! Among other things, it helped me to understand the strong French Catholic influence I've found in this region. To get a real grasp of this area & this period, I suggest reading Blood & Thunder (by Hampton Sides, historic non-fiction) first, one of the best books I've read in recent years! aj west
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our Book Club liked this a lot. It ranked sixth out of 40+ books we've read in the past three years.
ScienceWonk More than 1 year ago
Heartbreakingly beautiful.  A must read.  A cherished favorite.  Perfect for reading aloud.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book helped me understand other peoples way of living. It describes dignity and , kindness of people, beauty of nature and landscapes, and the enourmos diccipline it takes to be a good missionar in a remote country like New Mexico. It was an adventure to read this book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cather's outstanding use of imagery and setting propel the story to something that is beautiful. Most books today are action-packed plot-centered novels that are reminiscent of the books turned out in the fiction department of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984. This book is not meant to be centered around plot, but rather it is a series of snapshots in the life of a man stuck in an uncomfortable position as he rises above his circumstances. Moreover, Death Comes for the Archbishop, is a classic because of its timeless themes. I recommend this book to anyone who can think beyond a plot line.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for an assignment, but even then, it was not bad. The psycological complexities and relationships between the characters and the nature around them is truly fascinating....if you can derive it from the text. Most do not look upon books like this in such a way, but if you do, it will truly heighten your enjoyment of the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book but it was very hard to get into to. I do not recommend to read for leisure purposes.