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April Twilights (1903)

Willa Cather

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 11/2019
Pages: 142
Subject: Fiction
eBook ISBN: 9781496218148


Before she wrote her prose masterpieces, Willa Cather produced striking poems, which were collected in 1903 in April Twilights. It was her literary debut, preceding the publication of O Pioneers! by nine years. In her introduction, distinguished Cather scholar Bernice Slote notes that this early edition of April Twilights restores what had been "an almost lost, certainly blurred, portion of the creative life of a great novelist." Among the thirty-seven selections are the much-anthologized "Grandmither, Think Not I Forget" and the highly evocative "Prairie Dawn." This new edition includes a new introduction by Robert Thacker, which provides new insights into Cather and her poetry.


Willa Cather (1873–1947) was born in Virginia, moved with her family to Nebraska in 1883, and eventually settled in Red Cloud. After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1895, Cather returned to Red Cloud briefly before moving east to work on Home Monthly and eventually McClure's. Her first published books were the poetry collection April Twilights and the short story collection The Troll Garden. In 1923 Cather received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel One of Ours. Bernice Slote (1913–83), a distinguished Cather scholar, was a professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her publications include April Twilights (1903) (1962, 1968); The Kingdom of Art: Willa Cather's First Principles and Critical Statements, 1893–1896 (1967); and Uncle Valentine and Other Stories: Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Fiction (1973, 1986), all published by the University of Nebraska Press.Robert Thacker is Charles A. Dana Professor of Canadian Studies and English Emeritus at St. Lawrence University. He is the author of several books, including The Great Prairie Fact and Literary Imagination, and has coedited three volumes of Cather Studies. He is the historical editor of Poems in the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition.  


"[In these poems] Cather's . . . tone is elegiac or rueful, but her emotions are real. Her own life goes on; as poet she looks forward toward all the books she will write on her own perilous voyage, but gazing as she was from the nineteenth century into the twentieth, Cather stood at the Modernist crux. She knew poetry and valued it, but she also knew that her books were to take the form of fiction written in a striking, allusive, and poetic prose."—from Robert Thacker's introduction  

"Professor Slote's introduction, which considers events leading to the poems, critically analyzes them and then brilliantly relates them to Willa Cather's fictional themes and techniques."—Books Abroad