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Sacred Spaces, Profane "Manufactories": Willa Cather's Split Artist in The Professor's House and My Mortal Enemy

Sacred Spaces, Profane "Manufactories": Willa Cather's Split Artist in The Professor's House and... Abstract: In keeping with the idea that Cather herself located the "fountainhead" of her creative energies in "Nebraska and points west" ( In Person 88), I wish to locate my discussion of Cather's novels, The Professor's House and My Mortal Enemy , in the symbolic landscapes which help reveal their position in her oeuvre. My article argues that Godfrey St. Peter and Myra Henshawe, like Cather herself at this point in her career, attempt to navigate the tensions of two forces simultaneously working on them. That is, Godfrey's and Myra's authentic artistic selves strive to resist the pull toward fame, money, and recognition that Cather herself was newly acquiring at this point in her career and likely trying to accommodate to those artistic pursuits she considered high and pure. These novels can be read as Cather's fictional attempt to address the temptations and struggles she felt in her own life, specifically at a point when she was very critical of America's "pathetic" absence of artistic "discrimination" ( In Person 70) in matters of art and culture. My article adds to the scope of Cather criticism in particular as it points readers to a new look at Myra Henshawe as a potentially noble, albeit flawed, artist figure striving for spiritual purity in the face of material profanity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western American Literature The Western Literature Association

Sacred Spaces, Profane "Manufactories": Willa Cather's Split Artist in The Professor's House and My Mortal Enemy

Western American Literature , Volume 46 (1) – Aug 12, 2011

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Publisher
The Western Literature Association
Copyright
Copyright © The Western Literature Association
ISSN
1948-7142
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract: In keeping with the idea that Cather herself located the "fountainhead" of her creative energies in "Nebraska and points west" ( In Person 88), I wish to locate my discussion of Cather's novels, The Professor's House and My Mortal Enemy , in the symbolic landscapes which help reveal their position in her oeuvre. My article argues that Godfrey St. Peter and Myra Henshawe, like Cather herself at this point in her career, attempt to navigate the tensions of two forces simultaneously working on them. That is, Godfrey's and Myra's authentic artistic selves strive to resist the pull toward fame, money, and recognition that Cather herself was newly acquiring at this point in her career and likely trying to accommodate to those artistic pursuits she considered high and pure. These novels can be read as Cather's fictional attempt to address the temptations and struggles she felt in her own life, specifically at a point when she was very critical of America's "pathetic" absence of artistic "discrimination" ( In Person 70) in matters of art and culture. My article adds to the scope of Cather criticism in particular as it points readers to a new look at Myra Henshawe as a potentially noble, albeit flawed, artist figure striving for spiritual purity in the face of material profanity.

Journal

Western American LiteratureThe Western Literature Association

Published: Aug 12, 2011

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