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Willa Cather - Biography

Willa Cather (1873-1945)
by Karen Bernardo

The American author Willa Cather is often remembered for her novels O Pioneers! and My Antonia, which celebrate (and often romanticize) the hardworking settlers of the American West. But many of the short fiction contained in her early volume The Troll Garden and Selected Stories reflects a very different focus: the tremendous gulf between the artistic soul's need for beauty and poverty's denial of that need.

To a true artist, Cather argues, material success means nothing and art means everything, yet ironically only the very rich are afforded the privilege of listening to magnificent symphony orchestras, seeing brilliant plays, and owning the paintings of the great masters. The poor artist, who needs art as he needs bread or water or air, is all too often surrounded by the tawdry, the ugly, and the mundane. In 'Paul's Case,' 'A Wagner Matinee,' and 'The Garden Lodge,' the artistic soul butts up against the hard facts of life -- and tragically, the hard facts win.

Read Storybites' analysis of...

The Garden Lodge

A Wagner Matinee

Paul's Case

All these Cather stories can be found in the collection "The Troll Garden."

It is available in paperback from Amazon here:

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and as a Nook download here: