Truly One of America’s Greatest Authors

           Journalists take a vow to be the watch dogs of society. They are supposed to provide information that is truthful, well researched, clear, honest and concise. Many journalists are also famous authors. Mark Twain, Joan Didion, George Orwell, Willa Cather are examples of such. The latter, Willa Cather, merges her journalistic skills with her literary talents. She writes simply and concisely, using words only when necessary, honestly, and clearly. She treats her literary pieces with the same respect that she does her journalistic work. In both she seeks honesty and verisitude. It’s no wonder that although she lived in the nineteenth century, her style of writing should still be practiced, especially in journalism. Her themes are as relevant as they were in the nineteenth century. Its like she said, “….there’s only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years. ”

          A celebrated author, daughter and sister to six siblings, Willa Cather (who was originally named Wiella) was born on December 7, 1873 in Winchester, Virginia. Cather’s family acquired a large, prosperous farm in Nebraska when she was nine. Psbs.org describes the move as taking a toll on Willa. The coming years would begin to introduce clarity to her life. At eleven, she began delivering mail to the farms around Red Cloud, Nebraska. On her mailing routes she discovered the lives and talk of her immigrant neighbors. Unbeknownst to her, these stories would be later used in her writings. She learned the French language, had access to an extensive personal library, and graduated at the age of sixteen. Soon after she entered the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she began her life as a journalist. While in college, one of her professors decided to publish one of her essays in a local newspaper. It was exactly at that moment that she decided that she would spend her life writing. What type of writing would she venture into? What would be her inspiration for writing? In order to answer both of these questions she would have to find her voice.

          Early in her career, Cather wrote imitating Henry James’ style. This changed however, when she was introduced to writer Sarah Orne Jewett who told her, “you must find your own quiet center of life, and write from that.” Cather realized her quiet center was Red Cloud, NE and started using it as the heart of her writing. She began to use Nebraska as the physical and cultural setting for her work. While attending the University of Nebraska many opportunities came her way. Her work included literary editorship of the student newspaper her sophomore year and managing editor of the Hesperian. She also wrote for the Nebraska’s State Journal and the Courier. Her next big break came after college when she joined the staff of Home Monthly magazine where she prospered. Later she worked for McClure and published her first book, a collection of poems entitled”April Twilights.”

          Willa Cather used her travels in life as inspiration for her writing. As she said, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” When Cather lived in Red Cloud, NE she lived amongst immigrants. Immigration was an important topic in Cather’s time. Her literature is peppered with their talk, values, lifestyle and culture. She captured the immigrant life by including them in her novels. Often her major characters are immigrants who exhibit qualities such as tenacity, resilience and hard work. In My Antonia Cather talks about enduring people who leave everything they have ever known in pursuit of happiness and success. The main character in this novel, Antonia Shermeda, is an immigrant from Bohemia. She is based on Cather’s childhood friend named Annie. she made while living in Nebraska. In the novel, the title character had a challenging and difficult life but remained strong and independent through it all.

          Immigration is a hot button issue in current American society. Immigrants from the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East have changed the face of America today just as their predecessors from Eastern Europe did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The stories haven’t changed. They come to America in search of a better life, in search of success. They are willing to work hard to attain both. Cather admired the immigrants of her generation, and it’s safe to say she would feel comfortable in contemporary America.
The immigrant story is one of those two or three human stories that Cather said keeps repeating themselves.

          Cather wrote simply and efficiently. She valued details, but knew when to edit herself. She uses each word for a purpose, thereby making each important. Her language is full of symbols, imagery, and figurative language. She uses these techniques to get her point across, not to embellish vapid material. Her journalistic experience is obvious in her literary work. She’s able to bring words to life concisely and clearly, as good reporters are suppose to do. Contemporary journalists have a lot to learn from Cather, especially understanding her saying, “too many details can render things vulgar.” While it is true that a journalist primary responsibility is to inform, providing too much details can confuse readers, ultimately leading to indifference. Ms. Katia Luce agrees with Cather’s assessment relating to the use of details. She said, “yes I do want to know as much information on the topic that matter in current society, but I don’t have to be bombarded by them twenty-four seven. Give me time to process them and decide.”

          Willa Cather is considered one the great American authors because she wrote about America. She knew using a style similar to the landscape describing “simple and beautiful.” She is a inspiration to writers and journalist alike because she wrote about the things that mattered to her and her fellow countrymen. Contemporary journalists take cue.

          Journalists take a vow to be the watch dogs of society. They are supposed to provide information that is truthful, well researched, clear, honest and concise. Many journalists are also famous authors. Mark Twain, Joan Didion, George Orwell, Willa Cather are examples of such. The latter, Willa Cather, merges her journalistic skills with her literary talents. She writes simply and concisely, using words only when necessary, honestly, and clearly. She treats her literary pieces with the same respect that she does her journalistic work. In both she seeks honesty and verisitude. It’s no wonder that although she lived in the nineteenth century, her style of writing should still be practiced, especially in journalism. Her themes are as relevant as they were in the nineteenth century. Its like she said, “….there’s only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years. ”

          A celebrated author, daughter and sister to six siblings, Willa Cather (who was originally named Wiella) was born on December 7, 1873 in Winchester, Virginia. Cather’s family acquired a large, prosperous farm in Nebraska when she was nine. Psbs.org describes the move as taking a toll on Willa. The coming years would begin to introduce clarity to her life. At eleven, she began delivering mail to the farms around Red Cloud, Nebraska. On her mailing routes she discovered the lives and talk of her immigrant neighbors. Unbeknownst to her, these stories would be later used in her writings. She learned the French language, had access to an extensive personal library, and graduated at the age of sixteen. Soon after she entered the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she began her life as a journalist. While in college, one of her professors decided to publish one of her essays in a local newspaper. It was exactly at that moment that she decided that she would spend her life writing. What type of writing would she venture into? What would be her inspiration for writing? In order to answer both of these questions she would have to find her voice.

          Early in her career, Cather wrote imitating Henry James’ style. This changed however, when she was introduced to writer Sarah Orne Jewett who told her, “you must find your own quiet center of life, and write from that.” Cather realized her quiet center was Red Cloud, NE and started using it as the heart of her writing. She began to use Nebraska as the physical and cultural setting for her work. While attending the University of Nebraska many opportunities came her way. Her work included literary editorship of the student newspaper her sophomore year and managing editor of the Hesperian. She also wrote for the Nebraska’s State Journal and the Courier. Her next big break came after college when she joined the staff of Home Monthly magazine where she prospered. Later she worked for McClure and published her first book, a collection of poems entitled”April Twilights.”

          Willa Cather used her travels in life as inspiration for her writing. As she said, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” When Cather lived in Red Cloud, NE she lived amongst immigrants. Immigration was an important topic in Cather’s time. Her literature is peppered with their talk, values, lifestyle and culture. She captured the immigrant life by including them in her novels. Often her major characters are immigrants who exhibit qualities such as tenacity, resilience and hard work. In My Antonia Cather talks about enduring people who leave everything they have ever known in pursuit of happiness and success. The main character in this novel, Antonia Shermeda, is an immigrant from Bohemia. She is based on Cather’s childhood friend named Annie. she made while living in Nebraska. In the novel, the title character had a challenging and difficult life but remained strong and independent through it all.

          Immigration is a hot button issue in current American society. Immigrants from the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East have changed the face of America today just as their predecessors from Eastern Europe did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The stories haven’t changed. They come to America in search of a better life, in search of success. They are willing to work hard to attain both. Cather admired the immigrants of her generation, and it’s safe to say she would feel comfortable in contemporary America.
The immigrant story is one of those two or three human stories that Cather said keeps repeating themselves.

          Cather wrote simply and efficiently. She valued details, but knew when to edit herself. She uses each word for a purpose, thereby making each important. Her language is full of symbols, imagery, and figurative language. She uses these techniques to get her point across, not to embellish vapid material. Her journalistic experience is obvious in her literary work. She’s able to bring words to life concisely and clearly, as good reporters are suppose to do. Contemporary journalists have a lot to learn from Cather, especially understanding her saying, “too many details can render things vulgar.” While it is true that a journalist primary responsibility is to inform, providing too much details can confuse readers, ultimately leading to indifference. Ms. Katia Luce agrees with Cather’s assessment relating to the use of details. She said, “yes I do want to know as much information on the topic that matter in current society, but I don’t have to be bombarded by them twenty-four seven. Give me time to process them and decide.”

          Willa Cather is considered one the great American authors because she wrote about America. She knew using a style similar to the landscape describing “simple and beautiful.” She is a inspiration to writers and journalist alike because she wrote about the things that mattered to her and her fellow countrymen. Contemporary journalists take cue.

     Accomplishments of Willa Cather

– 1891 literary Editor to the Hesperian a student newspaper at the University of -Nebraska
– 1892 Publication of Peter in the Boston magazine
– 1896 Editor of Home Monthly Magazine
– 1901 Latin and English teacher in Pittsburg high school
– 1903 Publication of collection of poems, April Twilight
– 1905 Publication of The Troll Garden, is published
– 1906 Editor of Mc Clurre’s magazine in NY
-1912 Publication of her first novel, Alexander’s Bridge
-1913 Publication of O’ Pioneers
-1918 Publication of My Antonia
– 1921 Publication of One of Ours, the war story becomes her first best-seller
-1923 awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for One of Ours
– 1925 Publication of Professor’s House
-1927 Publication of Death Comes for the Archbishop
-1930 Recipient of the Howell’s Medal of American Academy of Arts and Letters for Death Comes for the Archbishop
– 1931 Publication of Shadows by the Rock, which becomes the best-selling book in the country.
– 1932 receives the Prix Femina Americaine for distinguished literary accomplishments
-1933 receives a French literary prize honoring foreign works for Shadow by the Rock, about 19 century Quebec
– 1935 Publication of Lucy Gayheart, a love story with a tragic ending
– 1940 Publication of Sapphira and the Slave Girl, inspired by the earliest memories of Virginia
– 1944 receives the gold medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters
– 1947 April 24, Willa Cather dies at the age of seventy three

 

-Belfort

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