Last month we kicked off the Willa Cather Short Story Project with “Flavia and Her Artists.” That story was the first in Cather’s 1905 short story collection, The Troll Garden, her first published book of prose.
This month we’ll be reading “The Garden Lodge.”
“The Garden Lodge” is not, however, the second story in The Troll Garden. It was actually the third story. The second story was “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” which we’ll be reading in November, as per the order of stories we’re following in the Collected Stories by Vintage Classics.
Why Are The Stories in Different Order?
Cather included seven stories in The Troll Garden. She revised four of these stories for inclusion in a later short story collection, Youth and The Bright Medusa, published in 1920. “Flavia” didn’t make the cut and neither did “The Garden Lodge.” Nor, for that matter, did next month’s story, “The Marriage of Phaedra.”
In other words, we’re starting this reading project with three stories Cather thought were better off left alone. And not, apparently, because she thought they were masterpieces. As reader’s pointed out last month, “Flavia” is derivative of Henry James.
Perhaps we’ll find that these next two stories aren’t Cather’s strongest either. On the other hand, they could end up being your favorites! If we’re going to study Cather’s short fiction, it’s important to read all the stories to see how she grows as a writer in her style, themes, and more.
I’ll post my thoughts on reading “The Garden Lodge” on Wednesday, March 27th and invite everyone to post their thoughts as well.
Looking forward to our conversation.