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IlanaSimons
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Welcome from Your Moderator

[ Edited ]
Hi--Welcome to this May discussion of Cather's My Antonia. This is a book that some say reads like a painting--its scenic descriptions evoke intense emotion.

Please introduce yourselves here. Perhaps tell us if you've read Cather before, and what you expect from the book. I look forward to hearing from you,
Ilana

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 05-18-200711:49 AM




Ilana
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KristyR
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Hi! I'm Kristy, and I feel like I keep repeating myself in these introductions! As with Dostoevsky and Woolf, this will be my first time reading anything by Willa Cather and I am looking forward to the challenge. I'm also beginning to wonder if I read anything in high school or college!
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Hi Again, Kristy.
I feel so lucky that you're back for another big book.

Like Woolf, Cather has a unique style: She's got a really distinct thumbprint. If you've got the B&N classics edition, I recommend the excellent introductory essay by Gordon Tapper. He helps bring clear meaning to this scenic novel.

In it, he quotes a neat essay by Cather. She said she wanted novels to evoke a mood that couldn't be stated explicitly language: "Whatever is felt upon the page without being specifically named there — that, one might say, is created. It is the inexplicable presence of the thing not named, of the overtone divined by the ear but not heard by it, the verbal mood, the emotional aura of the fact or the thing or the deed, that gives high quality to the novel or the drama, as well as to poetry itself."

I'll be really interested to hear if you think she achieves this.




KristyR wrote:
Hi! I'm Kristy, and I feel like I keep repeating myself in these introductions! As with Dostoevsky and Woolf, this will be my first time reading anything by Willa Cather and I am looking forward to the challenge. I'm also beginning to wonder if I read anything in high school or college!





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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KristyR
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Thanks for the warm welcome Ilana. I am getting the B&N edition, it should be here next week. It sounds like this will be a good book to take notes on. I tend to read so many things at once that I miss things or confuse which book I got the impressions from! This also sounds like the perfect book to curl up with outside on the porch now that the weather is warming up.

I read Sarah Orne Jewett on the old BNU and we learned about her connection to Willa Cather there. I've wanted to read something by her ever since, so thanks for providing the perfect opportunity! Hopefully I won't disappear toward the end, I'm not due with my 5th child until the June 10, so I'm hoping to wrap up May's discussions before that blessed/crazy event occurs!
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

[ Edited ]
Exciting. I hope you make it to the end of the book before childbirth. A lot of people say Antonia represents a Mother Earth. She's in touch with the land and ends up being the most fertile in the book (PLOT SPOILER, THOUGH NOT A TERRIBLE SPOILER BELOW:



...birthing about 10 kids).
Tell me what you make of her.



KristyR wrote:
Thanks for the warm welcome Ilana. I am getting the B&N edition, it should be here next week. It sounds like this will be a good book to take notes on. I tend to read so many things at once that I miss things or confuse which book I got the impressions from! This also sounds like the perfect book to curl up with outside on the porch now that the weather is warming up.

I read Sarah Orne Jewett on the old BNU and we learned about her connection to Willa Cather there. I've wanted to read something by her ever since, so thanks for providing the perfect opportunity! Hopefully I won't disappear toward the end, I'm not due with my 5th child until the June 10, so I'm hoping to wrap up May's discussions before that blessed/crazy event occurs!

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 04-28-200703:05 PM




Ilana
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caroline88
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Introduction

KristyR, congratulations! I am Caroline from The Netherlands. I have read A lost lady and The professor's house but both in translation. For most of my reading, I depend on libraries and they have more translations than originals on stock. But fortunately, our Royal Library had My Antonia (and a few others) in English.

I also took out This Life by Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man had been checked out but I am first in line after it should be returned on May 5. I love the lessons that one can learn from reading biographies.

What do I expect? I don't know. I have a poor memory about books that I have read. I only remember that Cather was one that stood out from the crowd. I marked her books "worthy of a second read".

Every new book is a new adventure. Have you read The Heart of Mid-Lothian by Sir Walter Scott? Coming from Ivanhoe, I wondered if he had written anything else. And I was blown away by the experience. He literally transported me from the XXth century to another place and time where I had never been before. In very elegant prose, or at least that is what I remember. (This one was marked "buy!" )

I am looking forward to this new reading adventure.

Caroline
Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Introduction

Welcome, Caroline. I'm so glad you're joining us. I'd be interested to hear how you think Cather's ability to evoke a distinct time and place compares to Scott's.



caroline88 wrote:
KristyR, congratulations! I am Caroline from The Netherlands. I have read A lost lady and The professor's house but both in translation. For most of my reading, I depend on libraries and they have more translations than originals on stock. But fortunately, our Royal Library had My Antonia (and a few others) in English.

I also took out This Life by Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man had been checked out but I am first in line after it should be returned on May 5. I love the lessons that one can learn from reading biographies.

What do I expect? I don't know. I have a poor memory about books that I have read. I only remember that Cather was one that stood out from the crowd. I marked her books "worthy of a second read".

Every new book is a new adventure. Have you read The Heart of Mid-Lothian by Sir Walter Scott? Coming from Ivanhoe, I wondered if he had written anything else. And I was blown away by the experience. He literally transported me from the XXth century to another place and time where I had never been before. In very elegant prose, or at least that is what I remember. (This one was marked "buy!" )

I am looking forward to this new reading adventure.

Caroline





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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KristyR
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Re: Introduction

caroline88 wrote:
KristyR, congratulations! I am Caroline from The Netherlands. I have read A lost lady and The professor's house but both in translation. For most of my reading, I depend on libraries and they have more translations than originals on stock. But fortunately, our Royal Library had My Antonia (and a few others) in English.

I also took out This Life by Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man had been checked out but I am first in line after it should be returned on May 5. I love the lessons that one can learn from reading biographies.

What do I expect? I don't know. I have a poor memory about books that I have read. I only remember that Cather was one that stood out from the crowd. I marked her books "worthy of a second read".

Every new book is a new adventure. Have you read The Heart of Mid-Lothian by Sir Walter Scott? Coming from Ivanhoe, I wondered if he had written anything else. And I was blown away by the experience. He literally transported me from the XXth century to another place and time where I had never been before. In very elegant prose, or at least that is what I remember. (This one was marked "buy!" )

I am looking forward to this new reading adventure.

Caroline





Thanks Caroline! I just order The Antiquarian by Sir Walter Scott, it should be here next week. I've never read anything by him that I know of, and became interested after it was referred to in the book To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. If I like it I'll have to check out the other two you mentioned.
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CallMeLeo
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Re: Introduction

Hi, I'm Leonora (Leo), and I've just come away from reading TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, moderated by Ilana, who gave such invaluable insight into Woolf's work. Thank you, Ilana.

I read MY ANTONIA many years ago, and I fear, with less than a discerning eye. I am looking forward to everyone's comments on Cather's work. This time as I read I'm interested in comparing the immigrant experience of the turn-of-the-century pioneers out west with my parents and their children, post-WWII.

P.S. The threads are titled early and late chapters. Is there a definite point of demarcation in the book that separates the two? I wouldn't want to accidentally post any spoilers. :smileyhappy:
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johanna49
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

I am an elementary school librarian from New Jersey. I first read My Antonia in
college for Young People's literature, a undergraduate library science course. That was many years ago. I liked the book. If I remember correctly it was on a recommended list for that particular week. I feel fortunate that I choose My Antonia. I have been on the B and N boards before. When I saw that My Antonia was being discussed I thought this is excellent opportunity to reread the book.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Introduction

Hi Leonora,
Thanks so much for joining this discussion.
I really like that you're coming at this book with an explicit focus--to look at immigration. That helps me a lot in thinking of ways to read this book--and I think you've pinpointed such a meaningful lens.
This book is very much about the immigrant experience. Cather seems ahead of her time in the empathy she feels for those who don't know the language and come with a foreign set of habits. This book begs us to slow down in our assumptions about our neighbors who seem "out of place."
I am still trying to wrap my head around all she has to say about the Bohemians and Russians etc. who play such a central role in this book. I can't wait to hear what you have to say.

About the chapter break down: I'm not thinking of any clear split between "early" and "late" chapters. Later today, in the “early chapters” section, I'm going to post some more discussion questions with explicit chapter numbers attached to them.

I guess I'm not too worried about spoilers because this isn't a particularly plot-driven book. But thanks for the heads-up—and I’ll now remind everyone to write **Spoiler** in the subject line of a note if the note contains a spoiler.

So…tell! me how/if you think Cather builds some empathy for the immigrant in this book
Ilana




CallMeLeo wrote:
Hi, I'm Leonora (Leo), and I've just come away from reading TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, moderated by Ilana, who gave such invaluable insight into Woolf's work. Thank you, Ilana.

I read MY ANTONIA many years ago, and I fear, with less than a discerning eye. I am looking forward to everyone's comments on Cather's work. This time as I read I'm interested in comparing the immigrant experience of the turn-of-the-century pioneers out west with my parents and their children, post-WWII.

P.S. The threads are titled early and late chapters. Is there a definite point of demarcation in the book that separates the two? I wouldn't want to accidentally post any spoilers. :smileyhappy:





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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IlanaSimons
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Thank you so much for joining the discussion, Johanna.
I think you can bring us a really fresh perspective. I'd love to know what aspects of the book you focused on in the library science course. I think each discussion of this book migrates to different themes—so we’d really benefit if you chimed in with old discussion ideas, as we read.
Thanks for joining us,
Ilana



johanna49 wrote:
I am an elementary school librarian from New Jersey. I first read My Antonia in
college for Young People's literature, a undergraduate library science course. That was many years ago. I liked the book. If I remember correctly it was on a recommended list for that particular week. I feel fortunate that I choose My Antonia. I have been on the B and N boards before. When I saw that My Antonia was being discussed I thought this is excellent opportunity to reread the book.





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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mvollet
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Thank you for hosting this book, among my top five favorites of all time. I'm 50 years old and belong to 3 book clubs, and I've read so many great books over time. It's amazing that this book remains so important to me, and I'm looking forward to this discussion to see how others view it....and to put my own thoughts into writing. Thank you for hosting My Antonia!
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Wow! I feel so lucky that this group is proving to have so many members who already have a relationship to this novel. I'm a literature professor who actually doesn't already have a deep relationship with this book--so I'm anxious to hear how you hold it in your mind. I'm looking forward to knowing what parts of My Antonia resonate with you.
Ilana




mvollet wrote:
Thank you for hosting this book, among my top five favorites of all time. I'm 50 years old and belong to 3 book clubs, and I've read so many great books over time. It's amazing that this book remains so important to me, and I'm looking forward to this discussion to see how others view it....and to put my own thoughts into writing. Thank you for hosting My Antonia!





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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chadadanielleKR
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Hi Ilana,
I am glad to meet you again as a moderator.

I also heard about Willa Cather when I read Sarah Orne Jewett on the old B&N board and was curious to read one of her books.

I have just started reading "My Antonia" whose subject is of one those I like: the beginning of a new life in a foreign country. Since I traveled a lot and tried to settle in different countries, I am always curious to learn about others' experience in the past and the present...
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Laurel
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator

Hi, I'm Laurel. I remember reading Willa Cather's Song of the Lark when I was a teenager, and then the beautiful short story "Neighbor Rosicky." Both are very striking for their settings and characters. I read My Antonia later, and it left some vivid images in my mind--a train ride through a sea of grass; a wedding party furiously driving troikas through the snow, chased by a pack of ravenous wolves; a big farm house, houses and a park and a dance in town, and then a meager life in the big city. And, of course, Antonia, seen through the eyes of a boy turned man. It will be interesting to see how many of those images will reappear as I reread.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator



IlanaSimons wrote:
Hi--Welcome to this May discussion of Cather's My Antonia. This is a book that some say reads like a painting--its scenic descriptions evoke intense emotion.




That I'd say was my impression when I read My Ántonia the first time. I just think Cather placed the accent over her name wrongly and actually unnecessarily. If anywhere it would be over the o, but not. So perhaps WiCa wanted to make her name to look exotic. Or she wanted to point out the emphasis on the first syllable. But correctly the name would be Antonie with emphasis on the first sylabble, yes, and a naturally long vocal o that follows. OK enough of this petty linguistic excursion.

I read the book with BNU and 'twas a great discussion. Have a nice reading trip. I'll visit. :smileyhappy:

ziki
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Re: Welcome from Your Moderator



mvollet wrote: It's amazing that this book remains so important to me, and I'm looking forward to this discussion to see how others view it....and to put my own thoughts into writing.




hi mvollet,
would you dare to venture into investigation why the book remains important to you?

ziki
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(spoiler= general impressions of this book)



IlanaSimons wrote:
Wow! I feel so lucky that this group is proving to have so many members who already have a relationship to this novel. I'm a literature professor who actually doesn't already have a deep relationship with this book--so I'm anxious to hear how you hold it in your mind.




In my case I'd say that the book is very visual and the characters feel real, not constructed after a scheme distributed in a 101 creative writing course. The simplicity of her writing beats it all. And what I remember is also the "pastorale views" of that particular countryside. Then there is the disappearance of the whole style of life once so vivid and important; making clear that development is an unnecessary ingredient but WiCa shows also the price we need to pay for the comfort of life and she does it in juxtaposition with true human values. Actually it as lot about the feminine power when uncorrupted.

ziki
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caroline

Hi Caroline, I just baought the Sidney Poitier book and I also gear up toward reading more of S-W-Scott. Good news from you, heheh.

ziki
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