Willa Cather

"Willa Cather." New Republic 90 (February 10, 1937): 10-13.


In 1922 Willa Cather wrote an essay called “The Novel Démeuble” in which she pleaded for a movement to throw the “furniture” out of the novelto get rid, that is, of all the social facts that Balzac and other realists had felt to be so necessary for the understanding of modern character. “Are the banking system and the Stock Exchange worth being written about at all?” Miss Cather asked, and she replied that they were not. Among the things which had no “proper place in imaginative art”because they cluttered the scene and prevented the free play of the emotionsMiss Cather spoke of the factory and the whole realm of “physical sensations.” Obviously, this essay was the rationale of a method which Miss Cather had partly anticipated in her early novels and which she fully developed a decade later in “Shadows on the Rock.” And it is no less obvious that this technical method is not merely a literary manner but the expression of a point of view toward which Miss Cather had always been movingwith results that, to many of her readers, can only indicate the subtle failure of her admirable talent.

The New Republic