Main Topic: Our State
Topic: Nebraska Literary Giants
Topic: Willa Cather
Speaker: Andrew Jewell
O Pioneers! -- Willa Cather’s Second “First Novel”
Andy Jewell, editor of the Willa Cather Archive (cather.unl.edu) and co-editor of the new Selected Letters of Willa Cather, will discuss the story behind the writing and publishing of O Pioneers!, the 2013 “One Book, One Nebraska” selection that is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. The book, which Cather called her second “first novel,” emerged at a critical period in Cather’s life. In 1912, she had just left her job at McClure’s Magazine and ventured to Arizona to visit her brother. Her experiences there–and the confidence she regained–made her feel that her “mind had been freshly washed and ironed, and were ready for a new life.” With O Pioneers! she attempted a new kind of writing, something far afield from the Boston and London environs of her first novel, Alexander’s Bridge. With this new style, as she told her friend, she “hit the home pasture.” Jewell’s talk will draw heavily on Cather’s biography and, especially, her letters of the period to provide a behind-the-scenes look into the creation of O Pioneers!