While she may have spent her first decade elsewhere (Virginia to be precise), this state has claimed that Willa Cather is truly a Nebraskan. One who has written the stories of our state. Learning more about Willa Cather on NET was only possible recently.
Who was the woman behind the pen? Only several really knew until recently because of her strong request for anonymity. Not many of us have a provision in our wills requesting that all personal correspondence be destroyed. Prolific Nebraska author Willa Cather demanded just that, yet her wishes were ignored. Why?
Evidently two years ago, once her nephew, the executor of her estate, passed away, Cather’s will became void. Letters that were thought to be lost were actually preserved. Some her family members seemed to desire to have her personal thoughts available to the world. Having previewed the “Yours, Willa Cather” NET documentary, I can testify that studying her correspondence will add a richness and depth of understanding to those who have enjoyed her stories. In the spirit of true confession, I haltingly admit that I have actually not read any Cather beyond short excerpts. (I know, I know, and to think, I am a Nebraska blogger.) After watching this show, I have most definitely added Cather to my “to-read” list.
Just to clarify one thing … this presentation does talk about aspects of Cather’s personal life that might be a bit intense for a younger audience. (Hence the 9:00 pm start time!) For the high school (or possibly middle school audience) and up, learning more about Cather personally will assist in understanding why she wrote what she did. For me, the title that stood out to me was One of Ours which is loosely based on her cousin’s sacrifice for our country. Enough readers must have identified with her emotion that this was the title for which she was rewarded a Pulitzer. Hearing her letters about life with her cousin is interesting. Understanding that the book was written despite the fact that she really did not want to write a war story brings a reality to the time when she lived.
Not all of us can claim to have personally corresponded with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Or to be personal friends with Dorothy Canfield Fisher – another Nebraska literary great. Yet the letters to the unknowns, those in her personal circles, may reveal even more about this woman who told many a tale.
In honor of tonight’s premiere, NET is offering a wonderful giveaway. Actually giveaways. Besides having several copies of the actual presentation to offer to a few readers, one lucky entrant will win the DVD AND her prairie trilogy. Yes, you read correctly. One reader will win a copy of THREE of her well-known books. The titles that most reflect on her growing up in Nebraska: O Pioneers!, Song of the Lark and My Ántonia (Why can’t I win my own giveaway again)? To win, simply comment below on your favorite Cather title, or the one that you most hope to read someday. I already told you the title that intrigues me right now, but maybe you will convince to start with a different book first. 🙂
Watching Willa Cather on NET Television
Please do turn in to watch Cather on NET tonight to watch the show. If tonight does not work for you, please watch for the link on my Facebook page tomorrow. What else am I imploring you to do? Check out all of the amazing resources including being able to read the featured letters in their entirety on the Cather letters site. In particular, note all of the links to everything Cather. The television premiere is happening tonight. But all month NET radio has been featuring the letters as a part of their programming. You can check out links to their Cather podcasts here. Still not convinced? I bet if you watch the “Yours, Willa Cather” video trailer link you will definitely watch. Once you hear Nebraska native Marg Helgenberg’s narration, you will want to tune in.
Besides reminding you to comment below for the Cather on NET giveaway, how else could I end a post about Willa Cather but with an excerpt from one her letters that is read on the video? Oh what lovely language she portrayed.
One hour from now out of your window, I shall see a site unparalleled. Jupiter and Venus, both shining in the golden, rosy sky and both in the west. I can’t but believe that all that majesty and all that beauty, those faded and unfailing appearances and exits are something more than mathematics and horrible temperatures. If they are not, then we are the only wonderful things, because we can wonder.