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.
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Aug 12, 2011
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