“Peter,” is our story this month. Read it on the Willa Cather Archive here: https://cather.unl.edu/writings/shortfiction/ss019
This story is Cather’s first published work of fiction. Her professor, Herbert Bates, submitted it to The Mahogany Tree, a Boston based weekly literary journal. It ran in the May 1892 issue. Cather also published “Peter” in the November 24,1893 issue of The Hesperian, her college paper where she was the literary editor. This is the version/printing we’ll be reading. (See that issue here.)
I peeked at the opening lines of “Peter” and there are “thees” and “thous.” Will this be more of a proper story than a character sketch, as some pointed out about last month’s selection, “Lou, The Prophet“?
Mildred Aldrich (1853-1928)
A note on The Mahogany Tree. It was founded by Mildred Aldrich and produced for a year, from January to December 1892. At the end of that decade, Mildred moved to France where she worked as a foreign correspondent and translator. She became friends with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. During and after World War I, she published several nonfiction works related to the war and a novel. A few of these texts are available on Project Gutenberg.
Read “Peter” sometime this month and then come back to discuss it on the response post I’ll have up on the morning of February 24th. Feel free to comment here if you can’t wait.
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.
Thanks for putting in all the historical bits. They widen the contextual view of the story we’re reading.
You are welcome! I always like to know a little something about an older work. Like you said, it helps to have some context.
I checked out Alex Roth’s book “Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music” from the library because it has a chapter on Willa Cather. Lo and behold there was a reference to “Peter” (p.332)! Roth indicates the character is based on Francis Sadilek, a Bohemian violinist who became a Nebraskan farmer, his personal story long remembered in Red Cloud.
I’m so curious about Roth’s book and so thrilled you’re checking it out. Thank you for sharing that character source. I just did a quick search and apparently he was also the basis of a character in My Antonia. Here’s what I read: http://www.catherletters.org/story-behind-letters/1936-letter-to-annie-pavelka/
Do you recommend Roth’s book? I have a fantasy of reading it and listing to the entire Ring Cycle.
That is so cool! Thank you for linking to the letter. I’ve only read the Cather chapter in Roth’s book so far, but it looks like a fascinating book. I’m going to have to buy a copy. The one I have checked out is on hold and I have to return it soon. It’s one of those books you want to take your time with, and yes, listening to the entire Ring Cycle would be a perfect pairing!
That’s a good testimonial. I’m already dreaming of summer reading so I’m adding Roth’s book to my long list for that. 🙂
[…] you had a chance to read “Peter” by Willa Cather? As I mentioned in the reminder post for this month’s story, it was Cather’s first published story. It ran in the May 21, […]