Willa Cather said that O Pioneers! was her first authentic novel, “the first time I walked off on my own feet—everything before was half real and half an imitation of writers whom I admired.” Cather’s novel of life on the Nebraska frontier established her reputation as a writer of great note and marked a significant turning point in her artistic development. No longer would she let literary convention guide the form of her writing; the materials themselves would dictate the structure.
Cather’s O Pioneers! is the sentimental and somewhat controversial story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish pioneers that settles for life on the American prairie. While Alexandra, the family matriarch, is able to turn the family farm into a financial success, her brother Emil must grapple with the solace and tragedy of forbidden love. A novel surprisingly ahead of its time, this protofeminist work touches on a wide range of enduring themes, including love, marriage, temptation, and isolation.
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About the Author
Willa Cather (1873–1947) was born in Virginia; her family moved to Nebraska in 1883 and eventually settled in Red Cloud. After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1895, she returned to Red Cloud briefly before moving east to work on Home Monthly and eventually McClure’s. Her first published books were the poetry collection April Twilights and the short-story collection The Troll Garden. O Pioneers! is part of Cather’s Prairie Trilogy, which includes The Song of the Lark and My Ántonia, all available in Bison Books editions. In 1923 Cather received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel One of Ours.
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
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Excerpted from "O Pioneers!"
Copyright © 2012 Willa Cather.
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Table of Contents
Part I - The Wild Land
Part II - Neighboring Fields
Part III - Winter Memories
Part IV - The White Mulberry Tree
Part V - Alexandra
What People are Saying About This
"[Kate Reading] delivers the vivid narrative with dulcet tones and magnificent phrasing.... Listeners will enjoy the beauty of her delivery." -AudioFile