Hailed by reviewers and readers for its originality, vitality, and
truth, this novel secured Willa Cather a place in the first rank of
American writers. Cather called My Ántonia "the best thing I've
done." For Oliver Wendell Holmes, My Ántonia had "unfailing charm,
perhaps not to be defined; a beautiful tenderness, a vivifying
imagination that transforms but does not distort or exaggerate." H.
L. Mencken declared it "one of the best [novels] any American has
ever done."Cather drew deeply on her childhood days in frontier
Nebraska for this, her fourth novel, published in 1918. Old
immigrant neighbors inspired many of the characters, particularly
the heroine. Ántonia Shimerda is memorable as the warmhearted
daughter of Bohemians who must adapt to a hard life on the desolate
prairie. She survives and matures, a pioneer woman made radiant by
spirit.W. T. Benda's illustrations further illuminate the
fiction of a writer who drew so extensively on actual experience.