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ISBN:0813919967
Author: Janis P. Stout
ISBN13: 978-0813919966
Title: Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World
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ePUB size: 1561 kb
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Language: English
Category: History and Criticism
Publisher: University of Virginia Press; First Edition edition (December 29, 2000)
Pages: 381

Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World by Janis P. Stout



Previous biographies of Willa Cather have either recycled the traditional view of a writer detached from social issues whose work supported a wholesome view of a vanished America, or they have focused solely on revelations about her private life

JANIS STOUT is the author of nine scholarly books, including Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World, and two books about Katherine Anne Porter, one (South by Southwest) to appear in 2013.

The strongest pages in Stout's book are devoted to the novel that won Cather the Pulitzer Prize, the 1922 One of Ours. She mounts a sturdy defense of this oddly hollow war novel, about a Nebraska boy who discovers himself, and then death, in the hecatombs of World War I. Savaged by the literary establishment for its ambiguously idealistic view of the war, One of Ours is revealed as an elaborate experimentation with voice and irony; given that The Professor's House, Cather's greatest. and most experimental work, was still ahead of her, Stout's argument rings true

Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000. Many critics have not viewed Willa Cather as a modernist. Yet, increasingly, scholars (Susan Rosowski, B O O K R E V IE W S 393 Marilyn Arnold, Phyllis Rose, Jo Ann Middleton, and Glen Love, to name a few) are saying that aspects of Cather’s work fall under the rubric of mod­ ernism, an idea that Janis P. Stout takes up with force. Willa Cather’s writing is highly autobiographical. This is one thing upon which everyone seems to agree; Stout treats this idea in depth while engaging all of the central concerns of Cather studies. Stout’s book could be titled Willa Cather’s Ambivalence and not be far from the mark. This ambivalence is at the heart of every story Cather wrote and is one of the factors that enable us to see Cather’s works as fully modernist.

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Janis Stout is the author of perhaps the best conventional Cather biography (Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World), and Andrew Jewell is the keeper of the substantial Cather Archive at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Acocella, herself a feminist and critic of strong conviction, took on the feminist and queer critics in the Cather field, accusing them of shrillness, tone deafness, and ultimately bad faith.

Challenging these narrow interpretations, Janis P. Stout presents a Cather whose life and quietly modernist work fully reflected the artistic and cultural tensions of her day. A product of the South-she was born in Virginia-Cather went west with her family at an early age, a participant in the aspirations of Manifest Destiny. Loved by a popular audience for her pieties of family and religion, she was in her youth a freethinker who resisted traditional patterns for. Cather's sexuality, too, is more complicated in Stout's version than previous biographers have allowed. Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World presents a woman and an artist who fully e.

Previous biographies of Willa Cather have either recycled the traditional view of a writer detached from social issues whose work supported a wholesome view of a vanished America, or they have focused solely on revelations about her private life. Challenging these narrow interpretations, Janis P. Stout presents a Cather whose life and quietly modernist work fully reflected the artistic and cultural tensions of her da. "The Cather that emerges from Stout's treatment is a modernist conservative in the mold of .

The Writer and Her World. Stout, a novelist (Home Truth, 1992) and professor (English/Texas A&M), does not flinch at such embarrassing aspects of Willa Cather’s thinking as her racism, imperialism, and anti-feminism. Born in northern Virginia in 1874, Cather experienced the disruptive tragedy that marks her fiction when the family barn burned and they relocated to the Nebraska prairie town of Red Cloud.

Janis P. StoutUniversity of Alabama Press HardbackWilla Cather and Material Culture is a collection of 11 new essays that tap into a recent and resurgent interest among Cather scholars in addressing her work and her career through the lens of cultural studies. One of the volume's primary purposes is to correct the commonplace view of her as a literary connoisseur set apart from her times and to demonstrate the extent to which Cather did participate in her culture. Janis P. Stout is the author of Katherine Anne Porter: A Sense of the Times; Through the Window, Out the Door: Women's Narratives of Departure, from Austin and Cather to Tyler, Morrison, and Didion; Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World; and A Calender of the Letters of Willa Cather.

Previous biographies of Willa Cather have either recycled the traditional view of a writer detached from social issues whose work supported a wholesome view of a vanished America, or they have focused solely on revelations about her private life. Challenging these narrow interpretations, Janis P. Stout presents a Cather whose life and quietly modernist work fully reflected the artistic and cultural tensions of her day.

A product of the South--she was born in Virginia--Cather went west with her family at an early age, a participant in the aspirations of Manifest Destiny. Known for her celebrations of immigrants on the prairie, she in fact shared many of the ethnic suspicions of her contemporaries. Loved by a popular audience for her pieties of family and religion, she was in her youth a freethinker who resisted traditional patterns for women's lives, cutting her hair like a boy's and dressing in men's clothing. Seen by critics since the 1930s as a practitioner of an escapist formalism, she was, in Stout's view, profoundly ambivalent about most of the important questions she faced. Cather structured her writing to control her uncertainty and project a serenity she did not in fact feel.

Cather has at times been viewed as a writer preoccupied with the past whose literary project had little to do with the intellectual currents of her time. On the contrary, Stout argues, Cather was a full participant in the doubts and conflicts of twentieth-century modernity. Only in recoil from her distress at these conflicts did she turn to overt celebrations of the past and construct a retiring, crotchety persona.

The Cather that emerges from Stout's treatment is a modernist conservative in the mold of T. S. Eliot, though more responsive to her time and simultaneously less assured in her pronouncements. Cather's sexuality, too, is more complicated in Stout's version than previous biographers have allowed. Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World presents a woman and an artist who fully exemplifies the ambivalence, the foreboding, and above all the complexity that we associate with the twentieth-century mind.

Reviews: 2
Kagalkree
The most recent comprehensive critical biography of Cather -- bound to become one of the two standard references for Cather scholars. Excellent!
monotronik
I was shocked to see this book -- my favorite analysis of Cather's life, letters, and fiction -- had received only one star from another reviewer. Though it turns out the reviewer was actually unhappy with the advertising and not the text itself, I want to say that Janis Stout's brilliant book, a beautifully lucid and enjoyable read, is also deceptively complex and rich, like Cather's own fiction.