About the book

O Pioneers Paperback edition
Copyright: 2013
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-8032-4571-6
278 pages

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O Pioneers!

Willa Cather said that O Pioneers! was her first authentic novel, "the first time I walked off on my own feet—everything before was half real and half an imitation of writers whom I admired." Cather's novel of life on the Nebraska frontier established her reputation as a writer of great note and marked a significant turning point in her artistic development. No longer would she let literary convention guide the form of her writing; the materials themselves would dictate the structure.

Cather's O Pioneers! is the sentimental and somewhat controversial story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish pioneers that settles for life on the American prairie. While Alexandra, the family matriarch, is able to turn the family farm into a financial success, her brother Emil must grapple with the solace and tragedy of forbidden love. A novel surprisingly ahead of its time, this protofeminist work touches on a wide range of enduring themes, including love, marriage, temptation, and isolation.

Source: University of Nebraska Press

O Pioneers! (1913) was Willa Cather's first great novel, and to many it remains her unchallenged masterpiece. No other work of fiction so faithfully conveys both the sharp physical realities and the mythic sweep of the transformation of the American frontier-and the transformation of the people who settled it. Cather's heroine is Alexandra Bergson, who arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, as a girl and grows up to make it a prosperous farm. But this archetypal success story is darkened by loss, and Alexandra's devotion to the land may come at the cost of love itself.

At once a sophisticated pastoral and a prototype for later feminist novels, O Pioneers! is a work in which triumph is inextricably enmeshed with tragedy, a story of people who do not claim a land so much as they submit to it and, in the process, become greater than they were .

Source: The Willa Cather Foundation