My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview




My Ántonia, by Willa Cather, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

“No romantic novel ever written in America . . . is one half so beautiful as My Ántonia.” —H. L. Mencken

Widely recognized as Willa Cather’s greatest novel, My Ántonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman’s simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. A fictional record of how women helped forge the communities that formed a nation, My Ántonia is also a hauntingly eloquent celebration of the strength, courage, and spirit of America’s early pioneers.

Gordon Tapper is Assistant Professor of English at DePauw University. He is the author of The Machine That Sings: Modernism, Hart Crane, and the Culture of the Body, from Routledge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082024
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 07/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 13,059
Product dimensions: 8.02(w) x 5.28(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Born in Virginia, Willa Cather (1873-1948) moved with her family to Nebraska before she was ten, which later provided the setting for her best-known novels. The books O Pioneers! and My Antonia, especially, with their focus on immigrant life on the prairie, established Cather as a major American novelist.

Date of Birth:

December 7, 1873

Date of Death:

April 27, 1947

Place of Birth:

Winchester, Virginia

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

Read an Excerpt



From Gordon Tapper's Introduction to My Ántonia

In one of Jewett's most important letters to Cather, she addresses the relationship between fiction and its autobiographical sources in words that would resonate deeply with the narrative design of My Ántonia. Jewett was concerned that Cather had not yet learned to see her "backgrounds . . . from the outside,—you stand right in the middle of each of them when you write, without having the standpoint of the looker-on" (quoted in Lee, p. 22). In My Ántonia, Cather makes just this kind of effort to see her experience "from the outside" by inventing Jim Burden, the transformed version of herself who serves as the first-person narrator. In addition to giving Jim many of her own experiences, Cather sets him on a journey into his past that echoes the imaginative reconstruction of her own childhood. In the introduction that establishes the narrative framework for My Ántonia, we learn that Jim is a very successful middle-aged man—"legal counsel for one of the great Western railways"—living in New York. Like Cather, who also lived most of her adult life in Manhattan, he is therefore geographically and culturally remote from his small-town origins. As Jewett suggested, Cather's appreciation for her provincial "parish" would be made possible by her knowledge of the wider world, and Cather places Jim in a similar position. But if Jim represents a fictional alter ego who allows Cather to observe her own return to the past from the "standpoint of the looker-on," Cather begins the novel by very explicitly distinguishing herself from her narrator.

Cather revisits her Nebraska childhood in several of her early novels, but it is only in My Ántonia that she creates an intriguing dialogue between herself and one of her characters, which occurs in a brief introductory section of the novel. Instead of writing from the point of view of Jim, as she does everywhere else in the novel, Cather adopts the voice of a first-person narrator who meets Jim by chance aboard a train. Although she never names this speaker, Cather suggests that it is yet another version of herself, since she very unobtrusively reveals that the narrator is both a woman and an experienced writer. (In order to distinguish Cather the author from this female narrator, who never reappears in the novel proper, many critics refer to the narrator as "Cather.") The narrator and Jim are old friends who grew up together in a small Nebraska town, and during their reminiscences they talk fondly of Ántonia, who "seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood".

Although Jim and the narrator agree that Ántonia somehow embodies the essence of their childhood, their individual relationships to her differ in several critical ways. Unlike the narrator, who has lost touch with her, Jim has reestablished a close friendship with Ántonia. When Jim expresses his surprise that the narrator has "never written anything about Ántonia," the narrator confesses that she had never known Ántonia as well as he had. The two then agree that they will both try recording their memories of this "central figure" of their past. Jim cautions, however, that he is not a practiced writer (implying that "Cather" is) and will therefore have to write about Ántonia "in a direct way, and say a great deal about myself. It's through myself that I knew and felt her". In response, the narrator draws attention to the distinction between their male and female perspectives:


I told him that how he knew her and felt her was exactly what I
most wanted to know about Ántonia. He had had opportunities that I, as
a little girl who watched her come and go, had not.

On one level, the narrator is simply trying to reassure Jim that there is nothing wrong with writing about himself in the process of remembering Ántonia, but Cather also seems to be offering an indirect justification for adopting a male persona in her novel. Behind the essentially transparent mask of "Cather" the narrator, Cather the author is asserting that the female perspective of "a little girl" will not do Ántonia justice, because it does not allow her to understand Ántonia as the object of someone's desire. Cather thought of Ántonia as her heroine, yet she gives the reader very little access to Ántonia's inner life, which is only conveyed secondhand through Jim's perspective. By allowing Jim to control the narrative, Cather distances the reader from Ántonia, but it is precisely because Cather wants to imagine a man's feelings for Ántonia that she wrote the novel from a man's point of view.

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My Antonia 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 297 reviews.
JSAlex000 More than 1 year ago
Since contemporary novels seldom draw me in and retain my interest past the first 60 pages, I sometimes pursue the bookstore for quality classic literature that I have yet to read. Thanks B&N for including Willa Cather's My Antonia in your Classic Series. Although relatively well-educated and well-read, I discovered this novel when browsing in-store. Cather's story-telling style and vivid descriptions transported me to a different time and place while her character development prompted me to continue reading. The quality of the story made it a page-turner and one of the two novels I have enjoyed reading most in the last 10 years.
Emilsay More than 1 year ago
This dynamic novel does what too many contemporary novels fail to do- it portrays heartbreakingly authentic characters without drowning the reader in nonessential details. This style of writing allows the story to become personal to the reader as he or she subconsciously fills the unexpressed components with his or her own unique thought process. As the principal character discovers his own personal "patria" {home, or rather, home of the heart} the reader cannot help but to reflect upon their own "patria". Perhaps this, out of many other contributing factors, was the most essential element in creating this American masterpiece. With a flawlessly imperfect setting and ruggedly realist situations, Miss Cather's writing simply jumps off the page and captures the very mind, heart, and soul of the reader.
book-a-holick More than 1 year ago
I will read this book over and over, every 5 years or so. The writing style (may I please call it lyrical?) is beautiful, separate and apart from the story-line. And the story-line complements the style. I was never bored. I never felt hurried reading this. I was sorry when I got to the end of the book. It is an experience, a journey, with a satisfactory ending, totally unexpected, but 'just right'. I learned a lot about this time period, but mostly, I fell in love with the characters and the story. And I keep musing about what might come next if the author had kept writing...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather¿s My Antonia is a timeless masterpiece in literature. The coming of age story of Jim Burden is told in a way that allows the book to withstand the ages of time. The setting, plot, and theme of the story along with other elements give the story a depth, and realness, that few novels achieve. My Antonia tells the story of Jim Burden as he grows up on his grandparents¿ farm in Nebraska around the turn of the century. Embedded in the story line of this novel are many literary themes. The coming of age story with Jim shows how he grows from a boy to a teenager, and finally becomes an adult. The trials that Jims goes through and the lessons he learns in his life show how people have to work hard at life and try their best to become the person they want to be. Another theme of this book is to appreciate the people around you and what you are surrounded by. At times in the novel Jim and Antonia don¿t get along and they dislikes each other. But in the end, Jim realizes that despite their disagreements and differences Jim still needs and values her (as she does him) and wants to stay friends with Antonia. The themes of this novel surround the fact of how the people around individuals shape who they are and who they are going to become in their life. Another part of this book that makes it so amazing is the characters. The characters of this book are so believable and their problems make them easier for you to relate to despite the 100-year time difference in setting. In the beginning, the title character Antonia has just immigrated to Nebraska with her family from Bohemia. Throughout the book, all the hard work Antonia has to do to help support her family after her father¿s death, and the way she almost loses herself in the town life but the finds herself again in the end, gives her a realness and a sense of strength to all readers. Jim Burden, the protagonist of the book, gives the story depth as he struggles with inner conflicts. As Jim is growing up he wants to please his grandparents but he also wants to live life and get away from the small town he has grown up in and their image of him as a little boy. The supporting characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Shimerda (Antonia¿s parents), Jim¿s grandfather, and Lena Lingard, also add to and complete the story by creating conflict and helping the two main characters. The lessons characters learn and the way they grow as people also gives the story a realistic feel because the struggles of Jim and Antonia are problems that people could face in real life. The literary element of setting has given My Antonia a very fitting world. Although it is not obvious exactly when the story takes place it is obvious that the novel is set in Black Hawk, Nebraska, sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century. The fact that this book is set in the country as opposed to the city gives it a much more laid back feel and causes you to focus more on the people and their stories without the distracting hustle and bustle of the city. The lack of great importance or activity in the setting, gives the story over completely to plot and character development. Without having to focus on keeping track of an ever-changing setting it is possible for the reader to focus more on aspects of the story such as Antonia and her family, Jim and his family, and the relationship between the two. Two final literary elements in My Antonia are the point of view and plot. Told in 1st person by Jim Burden, the point of view of this story gives Jim a deepness as you get to look at all of his thought and feelings. This point of view also allows you to look at one of the major conflicts of the plot, Jim vs. his inner self. Jim is trying to find and become the kind of person he wants to be beyond high school and find his own identity. There are other plots of the story as well but this plot wouldn¿t be possible if the book were told from a different point of view. Other plots of the story include the ups and dow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just graduated with a BA in English and throughout my time at college I have read My Antonia three times because it is by FAR my favorite book of all time. (I suppose it helps when your favorite professor is a Willa Cather expert). Originally it was a book I stumbled upon my senior year of high school and every time I read it, it offers me something new and I can't help but get sucked into the atmosphere Cather creates.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I was simply amazed at how timeless it is. There are far too many people who become concerned with "page turners". While a reader should not expect to find that in this book, they should expect to find a character who moves their soul. This book truly captures the essence of what it meant to be an early american settler, and what it still means to be a woman. Cather makes it very easy to relate to Antonia. The only complaint that I have (and I admit it is superficial) is the ending. I would have liked to see it work out differently, but I understand why it ended the way it did. This is one of the few "classics" that celebrates the heritage of America.
readingissexy23 More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely stunning. Setting is the protagonist of this novel, Willa Cather did not disappoint!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A young Jim Burden is sent west in the early 1900's to live with his grandparents. On the train to his new house meets a young girl a couple of years older than he is. Although he doesn't know it, this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. After settling into his house on the plains of Nebraska, he ventures out to greet his new neighbor. Antonia Shimerda is her name and her family had immigrated from Bohemia. As Jim grows up he has many experiences with Antonia. When Jim is twelve, he and his family move into the nearby town, Black Hawk. Antonia also goes into town to find work. Because they belong to separate 'classes' they start to separate. As Jim settles down and continues his education, Antonia goes wild and goes to every town dance possible. After a failed marriage and an unwanted baby, Antonia moves back into the country to help her family's farm. Jim, meanwhile, transfers from the Lincoln University to Harvard. Forty years later Jim revisits Antonia to find her happily married and living a farm life full of content. Even though Antonia isn't as successful as Jim she seems to get more out of life. My Antonia is a wonderful piece of literature that shows the true meaning of happiness and the life and times of the early 1900's.
JAHNERS More than 1 year ago
Most of the time, I don't like books about immigrants; I have nothing against the immigrants themselves, but the books are usually written in a certain style, like the author is pretending that english is actually their second language. But I have always been a fan of the classics, and living in Nebraska (Willa Cather's Origin), I decided to give this a try. When I began the first page, I was pleasantly surprised that it not only wasn't that style at all, but that I actually couldn't put it down! The characters felt alive in the pages and relateable to anyone, no matter who was reading it. You get a glimpse of the original American Dream, too, which I love. This book is definately worth reading, give it a try.
JordanSkye More than 1 year ago
Upon first reading this book I thought it extremely simple and enjoyable. Although the whole concept wasn't profoundly enlightening it was most definitely an interesting book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to escape the heavy complex reads often assigned in colleges. You won't be dissapointed.
Milda-TX on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anybody up for a road trip to Nebraska? Ms. Cather makes the land sound so beautiful and romantic, even as she tells what strenuous and stark lives were led by the brave immigrants and pioneers who settled it. The stories of the various characters didn¿t wholly go in predictable directions, so this was an interesting book until the end.
StamperCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found it interesting to read of what life was like in Nebraska during the Nineteenth Century. It was harder than I could imagine and seeing it through the eyes of of a 10 year old boy as he grows up was very creative. I found myself underlining and saving quotes from the book as Ms Cather has a unique way of saying things. Her descriptions are marvelous. For instance here is a description of the prairie:"I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man¿s jurisdiction¿..this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it."And another toward the end of the book as he reminisces about their childhood:"As I went back alone over that familiar road, I could almost believe that a boy and girl ran along beside me, as our shadows used to do, laughing and whispering to each other in the grass."This is a story that I will not soon forget and I will enjoy going back and reading the quotes I have saved from it.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel a sort of kinship with this book. I wasn¿t forced to read it when I was in school, so I approached it with fresh, adult eyes and I think that made the experience one that is an experience to cherish. I also grew up in Nebraska, and it¿s so farare that I read stories set there that I felt an immediate connection.My Antonia begins somewhat slow ¿ and after reading a particularly difficult book, I¿ll admit, my heart sunk a bit. But once the story got going, once I started being sucked into the narrative of this young boy, I started to fall in love with the writing, the story, and the characters.Immigration, and treatment of immigrants, always provides an interesting topic to read, and write about, and that shows in this book. As an adult, I appreciated much more the hardships and tragedies experienced, then I would have as a teenager, which results in putting Willa Cather on the list of authors I want to experience more of.
Zommbie1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was well written. It had me gripped. I loved that it portrayed the many different aspects of pioneer life. The hypocrisies, the joys and a the sorrows. I also liked that it was told from the perspective of a man who knew these women. It gave an impression of the women that I had not expected. One can tell that the author is female but I find it interesting that she uses a male to tell her story. I wonder if a man at the time would have seen and commented on the things that the narrator commented on?I liked that the story followed several different women and showed them as independent characters, capable of taking care of themselves. The girls are all strong and learn to use their strengths to help themselves but also each other, despite what society around them might think.One aspect that I found very relevant both for the time when the story was written and set and for today was the hypocrisies surrounding men and women and their roles. At the same time as the girls were capable of hard work and industry was admired a girl who worked at a ¿mans job¿ was seen as somehow less of a woman. She was looked down upon and talked about. I still find these attitudes today. The women themselves were doing it to survive and to help their families survive something that was required but they were seen as less than the women who lived in town. Another significant aspect of which I had not thought about was the attitude of the Americans towards the newly arrived immigrants. The immigrants worked hard and were motivated but were often seen as having looser morals and differing attitudes. Lets be honest and say that this attitude still prevails in many societies today (my own included). It is an attitude I find sad.
PaperbackPirate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written story told from a man named Jim's point of view as he reflects on his life, starting at age ten when he moved to Nebraska to live with his grandparents after his mom and dad die within a year of each other. The story takes place in the late 1800s when people in the Midwest were pioneers living off the land. Ántonia is a neighbor girl a little older than Jim whose family has immigrated from Bohemia and are struggling at every turn (not unlike immigrants today).Although Ms. Cather mastered creating imagery with words, I felt the story lacked real problem/solution plot. It is a snapshot of Jim's growth from boy to man with Ántonia a symbol of America itself, as she creates life from soil and labors to survive in this land of opportunity.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great historical fiction and examination of what it was to settle prairie towns. The characters are well rounded, even though the narrator is male the female characters are the stars. Seeing them rise from dirt poverty to self determined adulthood was a joy. I can't say I was delighted with the way Antonia herself turned out, but the character stayed true.
janemarieprice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful and wonderful surprise this was. Going in, I knew that this was (1) about Nebraska, and (2) in the realm of things I usually like. I know very little about Nebraska except that there is lots of corn, and they are passionate about their college football. So, though I expected to like [My Antonia], I wasn¿t sure how well I could relate to it. Well, it swept me up into a very intimate tale of Jim Burden who moves to Nebraska as a child and befriends a Bohemian family, especially their daughter Antonia. The story follows their early life on the farm, and then move to town, where Jim goes to school and Antonia works. We then follow Jim to college where he and another of the country girls develop a relationship and he learns of Antonia¿s troubles. Finally, we are left with a view of Antonia, her many children, and her farm. Country girls: ¿¿I can remember something unusual and engaging about each of them. Physically they were almost a race apart, and out-of-door work had given them a vigor which, when they got over their first shyness on coming to town, developed into a positive carriage and freedom of movement, and made them conspicuous among Black Hawk women.¿ Vs. Town girls: ¿When one danced with them, their bodies never moved inside their clothes; their muscles seemed to ask but one thing ¿ not to be disturbed. I remember those girls merely as faces in the schoolroom, gay and rosy, or listless and dull, cut off below the shoulders, like cherubs¿¿ This country girl appreciates those descriptions. Cather has a way of describing the landscape that makes you almost taste it. ¿Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons. It must have been the scarcity of detail in that tawny landscape that made detail so precious.¿ It has the melancholy texture of home. There are certain smells, plants, and sounds that instantly transport me to my youth. There is a feeling about the place one grows up that is hard to describe. There is a love that wells up that is not attached to an explicit memory but exists in some larger connection with a place and its people. But there is also the tension of success. There is the idea that leaving and making your way is success, while staying home is a compromise. For someone like me who never wants to live in the home of my youth again, there is also the struggle of infusing your new life with the things of your past that were special to you. There is the urge to move forward, while not forgetting. It is something I think Cather shows us through the immigrants ¿ those who wish to assimilate completely, those who wish to maintain their old life, and those who need to find a balance between the two. For me it was extremely powerful and evoked thoughts that I had not been able to fully form before ¿ and this is the reason I read.And finally, on Antonia: ¿Antonia had always been one to leave images in the mind that did not fade ¿ that grew stronger with time. In my memory there was a succession of such pictures, fixed there like the old woodcuts of one¿s first primer: Antonia kicking her bare legs against the sides of my pony when we came home in triumph with our snake; Antonia in her black shawl and fur cap, as she stood by her father¿s grave in the snowstorm; Antonia coming in with her work-team along the evening sky-line. She lent herself to immemorial human attitudes which we recognize by instinct as universal and true. I had not been mistaken. She was a battered woman now, not a lovely girl; but she still had that something which fires the imagination, could still stop one¿s breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things. She had only to stand in the orchard, to put her hand on a little crab tree and look up at the apples, to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last.
missmaya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've seen this on the bookshelves forever, but finally picked it up. Apparently, I'm in a Little House phase right now - I found it a fast read and very enjoyable, if not terribly memorable.
dee_kohler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best, One cold spring day I was looking for an adventure, Cather provided it for me. Cold wind swept prarie. wonderful
LibrarysCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent social commentary - I loved this book. I thought the television movie was a good representation of the book.
rivetkitten on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was given My Ántonia as an AP American Lit summer reading assignment in high school. It took me most of the summer to plow my way through it, including the duration of two cross-country flights. Seven years later, I can barely remember what it's about, much less any details. Perhaps I should read it again, but the memory of my torturous first attempt keeps dissuading me.
cinnamonowl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I am becoming, or always was maybe, a fan of pioneer fiction. I grew up reading the Little House series, and I actually still read it from time to time. Last year I read the Children's Blizzard and loved it- I moved up to My Antonia, and I found myself wrapped up in this world of pioneering spirits once again. It was hard not to like Antonia, just like the characters in the book found it hard not to like her. I like how Cather wrote it from the point of view of Jim Burden, a young neighboring boy who grew up alongside Antonia. Jim had advantages that Antonia did not have- first he was male, second his family had more money. Probably the only two advantages that really mattered back then anyway. Jim and Antonia began their lives in the west the same day, on the same train - but after that everyday of the rest of their lives took them further apart.I loved this book, and will be reading the others by Cather.
ECHSLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a more grown-up version of Little House on the Prairie. It's another look at the challenges of life on the prairie. Not a blockbuster, but a good solid read.
readingrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic coming of age story.
irinipasi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't expect to like Willa Cather's works, as I don't really enjoy the "old west" type of genre. But she was stronly recommended to me, so I picked up My Antonia. I ended up really enjoying the book- Cather is very good at telling one of those epic, generational stories. And reading about a younger middle America wasn't so bad either- in fact, I actually enjoyed it.