Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fortnightly Book, March 30

The fortnightly book this time around will be Willa Cather's My Ántonia. When it was published in 1918, it was widely hailed as a promising candidate for the top tier of American novels, and certainly one of the great American novels about American life. I found Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop extraordinarily beautiful when I did it for the fortnightly book, so I am expecting good things from this one, particularly since this is often considered Cather's most important novel.

From Cather's essay on the art of fiction:

Art, it seems to me, should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole—so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader’s consciousness as much as if it were in type on the page. Millet had done hundreds of sketches of peasants sowing grain, some of them very complicated and interesting, but when he came to paint the spirit of them all into one picture, “The Sower,” the composition is so simple that it seems inevitable. All the discarded sketches that went before made the picture what it finally became, and the process was all the time one of simplifying, of sacrificing many conceptions good in themselves for one that was better and more universal.


  1. Enbrethiliel4:18 AM


    Well, that is a much nicer take on the famous "kill all your darlings" advice!

  2. branemrys7:49 AM

    I had forgotten about that saying; you're right that it's related. I think Cather's probably more accurate as well as more nice.


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