September Reminder! The Willa Cather Short Story Project #8: Paul’s Case

Willa Cather Short Story Project, Paul's Case, September 2019

Our story for September is “Paul’s Case,” one of Cather’s most popular short stories. I read somewhere that it’s her most anthologized short story which, no doubt, contributes to it’s popularity. There have been a variety of adaptations — stage, screen, and most recently an opera!

The story was inspired, in part, by a 1902 true crime case. Americans’ obsession with crime is certainly not a new phenomenon.

But the story is much deeper than simply the crime that inspired Cather. The Paul of the story’s title is a high school boy from Pittsburgh who is not happy with his family, their socio-economic status, or his prospects. He longs for art and the finer things in life. The National Willa Cather Center has some helpful resources for understanding, interpreting, and teaching Paul’s Case.

Cather published “Paul’s Case” in McClure’s Magazine in May 1905 and included it in her first short story collection, The Troll Garden. She then revised it for inclusion in Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920).

Read by September 25th

Read this month’s story and then come back to discuss it on September 25th. I’ll have a reaction post up by 8 a.m. ET that day.

I’ll end this post with the trailer of a 1980 film adaptation starring Eric Roberts. As of this writing you can stream this movie on Amazon Prime which includes an introduction by Henry Fonda. Enjoy!

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