February #WCSSP Reminder • The Count of Crow’s Nest

February #WCSSP Reminder

This month’s story is a two-parter. The first part of “The Count of the Crow’s Nest” was published in The Home Monthly’s September 1896 edition and part two appeared in the October edition. We’re going to read both parts this month.

Here are the links to read the story via the Willa Cather Archive:
Part 1: https://cather.unl.edu/writings/shortfiction/ss030_1.html
Part 2: https://cather.unl.edu/writings/shortfiction/ss030_2

Illustration by Florence Pearl England (from WCA)

I haven’t come across much commentary on this story other that it is considered Jamesian (as in the style of story written by Henry James). Here’s the opening paragraph:

CROW’S NEST was an over-crowded boarding house on West Side, over-crowded because there one could obtain shelter and sustenance of a respectable nature cheaper than anywhere else in ante-Columbian Chicago. Of course the real name of the place was not Crow’s Nest; it had, indeed, a very euphuistic name; but a boarder once called it Crow’s Nest, and the rest felt the fitness of the title, so after that the name clung to it. The cost of existing had been reduced to its minimum there, and it was for that reason that Harold Buchanan found the Count de Koch among the guests of the house. Buchanan himself was there from the same cause, a cause responsible for most of the disagreeable things in this world. For Buchanan was just out of college, an honor man of whom great things were expected, and was waiting about Chicago to find a drive wheel to which to apply his undisputed genius. He found this waiting to see what one is good for one of the most trying tasks allotted to the sons of men. He hung about studios, publishing houses and concert halls hunting a medium, an opportunity. He knew that he was gifted in more ways than one, but he knew equally well that he was painfully immature, and that between him and success of any kind lay an indefinable, intangible something which only time could dispose of. Once it had been a question of which of several professions he should concentrate his energies upon; now the problem was to find any one in which he could gain the slightest foothold. When he had begun his search it was a quest of the marvelous, of the pot of fairy gold at the rainbow’s end; but now it was a quest for gold of another sort, just the ordinary prosaic gold of the work-a-day world that will buy a man his dinner and a coat to his back.

Source: Willa Cather Archive

What’s next?

Read both parts of “The Count of Crow’s Nest” sometime this month and then come back to discuss it on the response post I’ll share on February 23rd, the fourth Wednesday of the month. Or, feel free to read it now and comment here if you can’t wait until then!

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.

One comment

What do you think? Leave a comment and let's talk!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.