August Reminder #WCSSP2023 • The Profile

Up this month for the Willa Cather Short Story Project is “The Profile.” It was published in McClure’s Magazine in June 1907, a couple years after it caused a rift between Cather and her friend, Dorothy Canfield.

Cather went to Europe for the first time in 1902 and spent some time visiting with Canfield who was studying at the Sorbonne. Canfield introduced Cather to her friend Evelyn Osborne who had a scar on the left side of her face and only allowed photographs to be taken of her right side.

Osborne c. 1902, Painting by her father, Charles Osborne. Source: Willa Cather Center.

You’ve probably already guessed that “The Profile” includes a character with a facial scar. Canfield thought the story would cause Osborne great pain and actually stopped the story from being published in Cather’s first collection of short stories, The Troll Garden (1905).

Cather did not think the character she created was anything like Osborne and wrote in response to Canfield that plenty of people have facial scars. I was aware that Cather and Canfield had a falling out over this story, but this will be my first time reading it. I’m curious about which side of the argument I’ll lean toward (even if it is well over 100 years after the two writers patched things up).

Read “The Profile” sometime this month then come back to discuss it on the response post I’ll share on August 23rd. Or, feel free to read it now and comment here if you can’t wait until then!

You can read “The Profile” over on the Willa Cather Archive:

New to this blog? Learn more about the Willa Cather Short Story Project here. In a nutshell, we read 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!

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