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Peppermill
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Irrigation?


foxycat wrote:
In the above post, the sentence should read "the irrigation at that time".

Here's another link on Cather's bio:
http://www.geocities.com/Wellesley/3005/Catherintro.html

While I haven't checked the history of irrigation, I would be very surprised at any crop irrigation at that time in Nebraska, beyond Mrs. Bergson carrying water to her gardens and getting water to young trees. It is unlikely there was electricity yet. Oftentimes the water in the Midwest came from (deep) wells with pumps powered by windmills. Much of the field work would have been done with horses -- even bringing the shocks of grain into the threshing machine -- it was easier to stay on the ground when loading the shocks rather than climbing on and off a tractor. The horses could be instructed from the ground to move on or stand and wait. (I am going to have to look up what a header was -- I don't recognize that piece of equipment.)
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- The 16-year gap

I'm catching up.

Just a minor note re: the 16-year gap between Parts I and II. It's actually 10 years. At the beginning of Part I, section IV, a period of 6 years after Bergson's death is noted. By counting the years since Alex took over, I think Cather is saying that she will now highlight the Alexandra Era, that period when Alex was running the farm and her family's affairs. So this is not to be a chronicle of her family from beginning to end, but more a chronicle of her period as head of household.
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LeftBrainer
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II

I'm a Nebraskan. Cather was talking of the Republican River Valley. They were probably trying to grow corn. That is what my family was trying to grow about the same time. They are some wonderful descriptions of the land in My Antonia. I will try to give you more information later. Talk to you soon, Nancy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II

[ Edited ]
I look forward to more description from you since your family's actually been there. Did you live there, too, or had your family moved away by the time you grew up?

LeftBrainer wrote:
I'm a Nebraskan. Cather was talking of the Republican River Valley. They were probably trying to grow corn. That is what my family was trying to grow about the same time. They are some wonderful descriptions of the land in My Antonia. I will try to give you more information later. Talk to you soon, Nancy



Message Edited by Everyman on 12-01-2007 12:48 PM
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II


LeftBrainer wrote:
I'm a Nebraskan. Cather was talking of the Republican River Valley. They were probably trying to grow corn. That is what my family was trying to grow about the same time. They are some wonderful descriptions of the land in My Antonia. I will try to give you more information later. ...

I would have expected oats, too, for livestock feed along with the corn, but I haven't found a mention of it anywhere.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II


Everyman wrote:
I realize that I don't even know what citrons are. Here's what m-w on line says:

1 a: a citrus fruit resembling a lemon but larger with little pulp and a very thick rind b: a small shrubby tree (Citrus medica) that produces citrons and is cultivated in tropical regions c: the preserved rind of the citron used especially in cakes and puddings
2: a small hard-fleshed watermelon used especially in pickles and preserves

Nebraska certainly isn't a tropical region. I wonder whether they were talking about the #2 kind?
Must be -- would sound right if used for pickles and preserves. (I associate citron, the #1 kind, with Christmas baking, from fruitcake to a variety of other goodies. Some of the best I ever purchased was a chunk of the thick rind already candied, but not cut up, in a German grocery in NYC.)

Here is a picture and description of the #2 kind:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MV052

"The citron melon belongs to the same species as watermelon, but the fruit is inedible in the raw state."
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II


Everyman wrote:
Do we have any Nebraskans here who can answer questions about the land and area involved in the novel?

...But what is the Divide, what was the river valley she visited, and what is the condition of these lands?

Still haven't found a good source about the Nebraska Divide (or divides) or the rest of Nebraska's geography. However, this site talks about some conservation being done in Cather's memory. The PDF that can be accessed at the bottom has pictures of lots of plants associated with the native prairie. Hopefully, they will be useful for references to plants in the book. (Trivia -- cattail down was used in Indian baby diapers?)

http://willacather.org/aboutprairie.htm

I lived in the Midwest and have long been interested in the land and weather of the area, but I don't specifically know Nebraska.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II Nebraska and Cather

These sites have a number of pictures related to Cather and her pioneer writings.

http://www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/nebraska/webster.htm


http://willacather.org/historic_sites.htm#juliana
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero

[ Edited ]
Cather famously called the land the hero of the book. She only reluctantly called Alex her heroine. The land begins wild, goes through some terrible times, but finally becomes civilized. What are the differing attitudes toward the land among Alex, her brothers and her mother? Why does only Alex succeed?

Message Edited by foxycat on 12-01-2007 08:34 PM
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II

Here's an image of a sod house -- it is probably larger than the one that Ivar lived in. Note the grass on the roof.

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/jb/civil/homested_2

http://www-staff.it.uts.edu.au/~jenny/photos/2006/icelandn/
reyn/slides/Arbaer%20sod%20house.html (use both lines)

This second one is more what I imagine Ivar's to have been like, although it appears to be in Iceland?
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero


foxycat wrote:
Cather famously called the land the hero of the book. She only reluctantly called Alex her heroine. The land begins wild, goes through some terrible times, but finally becomes civilized. What are the differing attitudes toward the land among Alex, her brothers and her mother? Why does only Alex succeed?
Rochelle -- I suspect that there are a number of perspectives possible on those questions -- which makes them interesting for a discussion.

The ones that come immediately to mind for me are that the mother sees the land as foreign and longs for her homeland. "...she has always missed the old country." (Her husband as he lies dying. p. 17) Although "she had never quite forgiven John Bergson for bringing her to the end of the earth," she tries to recreate their old life as much as she can -- which is a strength of hers. "Habit was very strong with Mrs. Bergson, and her unremitting efforts to repeat the routine of her old life among new surroundings had done a great deal to keep the family from disintegrating morally and getting careless in their ways." p. 17. Thanks to her, they had a log house, cat fish twice a summer, a garden, preserves, "bacon in the cave, glass jars on the shelves, and sheets in the press." p. 18. She is unwilling to move and begin again after her husband dies.

The sons see the land as hard work -- hard work that they had to do. They chose to get out from under their sister's thumb as quickly as they could, despite her success in keeping them together and afloat. Without their mother and sister, they might well have left Nebraska in the early hard times.

Alex sees the land as land -- having a spirit of its own. She is willing to take the risk of buying land when conditions are hard and tries new methods, even if she must struggle with her brothers for them to implement those innovations.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero

[ Edited ]
Alex is what attracted me to this book. She's a remarkable woman. She's a strong woman who weighs factors carefully before making important decisions. (The opposite of Lily Bart. :smileyvery-happy:) And I suppose she does all the bookkeeping and finances for the farm. Her tolerance of Ivar's eccentricity in Part II is touching. She's so self-assured, promising that she can protect him from the outside world. we know that her promises are set in stone. Whatever she does is not so much for her benefit, but for others. She wants to succeed so her brothers needn't work so hard, and so Emil can go to college.

In "My Antonia" I believe Antonia lives in a sod house built into a hillside. I can't conceive of what it would be like to live in that. Thanks for the websites. Finding history sites is not my forte.

Message Edited by foxycat on 12-01-2007 10:39 PM
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II - Setting -- Time

What is the time period for O!Pioneers?

I have been trying to align it with Nebraska history, but that's tough to do when I haven't figured out the period Cather intends it to be!
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II


LeftBrainer wrote:
I'm a Nebraskan. Cather was talking of the Republican River Valley. They were probably trying to grow corn. That is what my family was trying to grow about the same time. They are some wonderful descriptions of the land in My Antonia. I will try to give you more information later. Talk to you soon, Nancy

LB -- Please tell us about the Divide, too??? My sense is that Cather is talking about the hills and "divides" that determine river valleys, rather than the Continental Divide, but I haven't been able to convince myself one way or another. I've been trying for the past half hour to find a decent description of Nebraska geography with little success!

Thanks for confirming Republican River Valley. I had been wondering between that and the more distant Platte or South Platte.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II - Setting -- Time

[ Edited ]
Everyman calculated it. 1883-1889 for the beginning, 1899 for parts II-IV. The last part is a year later. Thus Cather's already dealing with baseball, electricity, telephones. For the pioneering era, this would be late. Many other states had already being settled long before.

If you're a fan of "The Prairie Home Companion" on NPR, you already know that Minnesota was also largely settled by Lutheran Swedes and Norwegians. Keillor jokes about everyone's religion, and even includes Unitarians in his jibes.

Message Edited by foxycat on 12-02-2007 10:03 PM
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II Nebraska and Cather

Two mentions of Nebraska Divide. Either several towns named Divide, or the Continental Divide. I'd rather concentrate on the characters in the book than obsess over every geographical detail.

http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=272833

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska_Territory
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Scandinavian settlers on the northern prairie

[ Edited ]

foxycat wrote:
...If you're a fan of "The Prairie Home Companion" on NPR, you already know that Minnesota was also largely settled by Lutheran Swedes and Norwegians. Keillor jokes about everyone's religion, and even includes Unitarians in his jibes.
If you have lived in that part of the country (as I have), you don't need Garrison Keillor to tell you Ol' and Olie humor -- or lutefisk or lefse or fruktsoppa (fruit soup) or agurkesalat (cucumber salad) -- or one Danish, one Swedish, and two Norwegian Lutheran churches in a country town. (Although Keillor is certainly talented and can be funny, somehow I have never become a fan, in case that's not obvious.)

Although certainly the Scandinavians knew how to deal with tough winters, some of the most poignant stories are missing the sea and the mountains and fjords. We glimpsed that in Mrs. Bergson's desire for fish.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-03-2007 12:51 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II - Setting -- Time


foxycat wrote:
Everyman calculated it. 1883-1889 for the beginning, 1899 for parts II-IV. The last part is a year later. Thus Cather's already dealing with baseball, electricity, telephones. For the pioneering era, this would be late. Many other states had already being settled long before....
THANKS! I thought I had seen it somewhere, but went back through notes and postings and didn't find it! Ding-bat time! :smileysad:

Here's some of the history stuff:

"Hard Times

"Beginning in 1873, the state's growth and development were slowed by a combination of problems. Between 1874 and 1877, swarms of grasshoppers severely damaged farmers' oat, barley, corn and wheat crops. Discouraged, many settlers left their land and returned to the East. However, another wave of settlers took their place in the 1880s.

"Nebraska settlers were tested by falling land prices in the 1890s. Land prices, which had soared during the 1880s, collapsed in 1890 due to drought, overuse of credit, and low prices for farmers' products.

"The farmers blamed the railroads, banks and other business interests for their problems. Many farmers joined the new Grange organization, which opposed high freight costs imposed by the railroads.

"Nebraska farmers also swelled the ranks of the Populist Party, which advocated agricultural reforms. The Populists nearly carried the state in the presidential election of 1892, and from 1895 through 1901, they held the governor's office.

"Nebraska also supplied national leadership for the Populist movement. In 1896, Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan unsuccessfully ran for president as a Democrat on an essentially Populist platform. Although he was nominated twice more as the Democratic presidential candidate, he was not elected. He did, however, win election to Congress and served as U.S. secretary of state."

http://www.neded.org/files/research/stathand/parttwo/nehist5y.html

Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state on March 1, 1867.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II Nebraska and Cather


foxycat wrote:
Two mentions of Nebraska Divide. Either several towns named Divide, or the Continental Divide. I'd rather concentrate on the characters in the book than obsess over every geographical detail.

http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=272833

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska_Territory
I think this map finally answers my question:

http://www.cec.org/naatlas/watersheds.cfm

If one downloads the large file and then enlarges it, one can see the major drainage areas for North America (legend is over to the left, along with a "summary" map). What had me confused about Nebraska was that I kept seeing references to "Continental Divide" and that didn't gibe with what I thought I knew. This map confirms I wasn't losing it.

But, apparently the hills sent some drainage towards the Platte and its tributaries and other drainage southward.

I didn't realize the significance of the sandhill territory in NB, so was glad AJ called that to our attention, versus the black loam of the DeSmet, SD, area Wilder writes about. I still haven't characterized the land to my satisfaction yet, but I am quite willing to follow your suggestion and move on to the human characters.

I liked Ivar and the light, determined touch with which Cather portrayed him, his ostracism by the community, and Alex's protection.

PS -- one of the surprises on the map was that water from parts of ND and MN flows north to Hudson Bay. If I ever "knew" that, I had forgotten. Sorry. I will quit now!
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II Nebraska and Cather

That's OK. We don't have too many readers crowding you out here. So are you saying they ARE referring to the Continental Divide in the novel?



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