“Lou, The Prophet.” Willa Cather Short Story Project • Jan 2021 Reminder

"Lou, The Prophet" Jan 2021 WCSSP

Happy New Year! Our first story for Phase II of the Willa Cather Short Story Project is “Lou, The Prophet.” Cather was nineteen when this story appeared in the October 15, 1892 edition of The Hesperian, the University of Nebraska’s student-run newspaper.

Below is a screen shot of the top of page one.

The Hesperian, (October 15, 1892): 7-10.
Source: Nebraska Newspapers

You can see Cather’s name listed on the masthead. She was editor of the literary section in 1892 and would become managing editor in 1893.

From the editorial — “Show some interest in politics. Don’t be a clam” — to the ads in the back, this issue has some entertaining moments. Click here to flip through it or read the entire issue. It’s only 27 pages.

Here’s one of those ads from the back:

The Hesperian, (October 15, 1892): 26.
Source: Nebraska Newspapers

I shudder to think about the ingredients!

Immigrant Experience

From the story’s first two sentences, what would become Cather’s life-long interest in writing about the immigrant experience is clear:

It had been a very trying summer to every one, and most of all to Lou. He had been in the West for seven years, but he had never quite gotten over his homesickness for Denmark.”

Laurie, who blogs at Relevant Obscurity, commented on the Phase II announcement post that she has already read the story and it made her cry. Such a powerful reaction! I can’t wait to dig in.

What’s next?

Read “Lou, The Prophet” sometime this month. Here’s a link to the full text courtesy of the Willa Cather Archive. On the fourth Wednesday of the month (1/27) I’ll share a response post and encourage all who’ve read the story to share their reaction.

I also plan on reading Becoming Willa Cather: Creation and Career by Daryl W. Palmer this month. It’s a new biography on Cather that looks closely at some of her early short stories and their role in her development as a writer. The book is currently unavailable at the National Willa Cather Center and Bookshop.org, but you can get it directly from the publisher or ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you. Amazon shows a few copies available.

Becoming Willa Cather by Daryl W. Palmer on chriswolak.com

Note: I’m changing the reminder post from the second to the first Wednesday of the month, which will give everyone an additional week to read the story.

Happy Reading!

New to this blog? Learn more about the Willa Cather Short Story Project here. In a nutshell, we’re reading one Cather short story a month. I remind everyone of what story we’re reading on the second Wednesday of the month and then share a response on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Jump in anytime!

P.S. Please note that this project is not intended to be scholarly. It’s a casual reading project.


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