Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Willa Cather

I just finished reading Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. It is the simple, yet profound, story, told in vignettes, of the first vicar apostolate, then bishop, then archbishop of New Mexico, from the time shortly after the Mexican American War to his death in 1888, and of his friend and fellow Frenchman who served as his vicar and then became the first bishop of Colorado. Several historical personages make cameo appearances, such as Kit Carson and Manuelito of the Navajos. The novel is an intriguing mixture of spiritual biography and Wild West yarn.

Willa Cather and Flannery O’Connor have done much to undo the damage done to my opinion of women writers, which was caused by being forced to read the likes of Virginia Wolff, Silvia Plath, and Alice Walker at an impressionable age. In Cather and O’Connor, we have two very different women who chose to write about God and humanity, not about the feelings of anger they have at not being born men. O’Connor is much darker and deeper, reflecting the tradition of the Southern Gothic and her experience of being Catholic in the overwhelmingly Protestant South. Cather perhaps reflects the Nebraska she grew up in; her narrative is encompassing and gently beautiful.