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Emigrating from Bohemia to Black Hawk, Nebraska, with her family, Ántonia discovers no white-framed farmhouse or snug barn. Instead, the cultured Shimerda family finds itself huddled in a primitive sod house buffeted by the ceaselessly blowing winds on the Midwest prairie. For her childhood friend Jim Burden, Ántonia comes to embody the elemental spirit of this frontier. Working alongside men, she survives without compromising the rich, deep power of her nature. And Willa Cather’s lush descriptions of the rolling Nebraska grasslands interweave with the blossoming of a woman in the early days of the twentieth century in a novel that is an epic chronicle of America’s past. My Ántonia is one of those rare, highly prized works of great literature that not only enriches its readers but immerses them in a tale superbly told. The novel Cather herself considered her best, My Ántonia is one of those rare, highly prized works of great literature that not only enriches its readers but immerses them in a tale superbly told.
With an Introduction by Marilyn Sides and a New Afterword by Terese Svoboda
WILLA CATHER (18731948) was born in Winchester, Virginia. Her family moved to Nebraska before she was ten. During her teens she learned both Latin and Greek; she graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1895. She then taught high school, worked for the Pittsburgh Leader, and spent a good deal of time traveling. The Troll Garden (1905) was her first volume of short stories, and it was followed by her appointment as associate editor of McClure’s magazine. She continued in this position for six years, but resigned in 1912 because she felt that the work for the magazine was interfering with her writing. Alexander’s Bridge, a short novel set in Boston, was published in the same year. In O Pioneers! (1913), she turned to her greatest subject, immigrant life on the Nebraska prairies, and established herself as a major American novelist. O Pioneers! was followed by more novels, including My Ántonia (1918), The Professor’s House (1922), and Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927). Cather lived in New York for many years, and she was a familiar figure in intellectual and literary circles. The Old Beauty and Others, a collection of short stories, was published posthumously.
MARILYN SIDES is the author of a collection of short stories, The Island of the Mapmaker's Wife and Other Tales, and of a novel, The Genius of Affection. She teaches literature and fiction writing at Wellesley College.