Today is big, big day in American letters–the release date for one of the most important books in recent literary history, The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout.
Visit the UNL library website here tonight at 7pm CST to watch a live video celebration of the book’s release.
I’ve been excited about the release of other books. I’ve stood in line at midnight release parties. I’ve stood outside waiting for bookstores to open in the morning. But when I first heard that some of Willa Cather’s letters were to be published I yelled in excitement at my computer monitor. It frightened my dog.
I’ve been reading my way through the letters. They are refreshing. It is rather thrilling to get a sense of Cather’s personality from her own words. I won’t presume to write anything more than that at this time, but I do recommend this article about the book by Jennifer Schuessler from The New York Times.
If you’re curious about Cather’s letter I can’t imagine a better introduction to them than these 10 short videos featuring editor Andy Jewell from the The University of Nebraska Archives. Each video is only 1-2 minutes long. In each Jewell talks a bit about what was going on in Cather’s life at a particular time and then a female voice reads one of Cather’s letters. Great pictures of Cather, the letters, and/or from the period provide backdrop. One of my favorites is number six where Cather pokes fun at her growing fame.
1 Series Overview
2 Precocious–1888, the first letter in the collection, Cather at 14
3 Sarcastic–1896 to a college friend upon moving to Pittsburgh
4 Frustrated–1908 to Sarah Orne Jewett 1908
5 Confident–1912 to S. S. McClure
6 Funny–1919 to her mother
7 Intimate–1936 to her partner Edith Lewis
8 Opinionated–1937 to Zoe Akins
9 Fragile–1938 to Roscoe Cather
10 Reflective–1947 to E.K. Brown, her first biographer
The Selected Letters of Willa Cather
Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, editors
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, April 16, 2013
Source: uncorrected proof supplied by the publisher
Full disclaimer: I went to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for my master’s degree and drank the water: I am a die hard Willa Cather fan, but am getting no free stuff from UNL to promote this book. The publisher, Knopf, did send me an uncorrected proof of the book, but only after I begged. I’m also purchasing a copy of this book (my local bookstore has a copy on hold for me) so that I’ll have the “real thing.” I’m looking forward to seeing the index of this book (uncorrected proofs often don’t have all the bells & whistles).