67. Willa Cather - My Ántonia


In this episode of Backlisted, Andy and John are joined by the critic and biographer, Hermione Lee to discuss My Ántonia, the pioneering novel by Willa Cather, first  published a hundred years ago in 1918. Hermione Lee was, until last year, President of Wolfson College in Oxford and remains Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford. In 2013 she was made a Dame for her services to literary scholarship. Chief among these services are a series of  acclaimed biographies of some of the most important 20th century women writers: Virginia Woolf (1996), Edith Wharton (2006), Elizabeth Bowen (1981), Penelope Fitzgerald (2013) and the subject of today’s episode, Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up first published by Virago in 1989. This episode also sees Andy revisit an old favourite, The End of the Affair by Grahame Greene and John explores the remarkable story of Knepp Estate in West Sussex, the UK’s largest rewilding project documented in Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree.


Books mentioned:

Willa Cather - My Ántonia; A Lost Lady (1923); The Professor's House (1925); O Pioneers (1913); The Song of the Lark (1915); My Mortal Enemy (1926); Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
Willa Cather - Willa Cather on Writing 
Hermione Lee - Willa Cather: Double Lives / A Life Saved Up (1989); Body Parts: Essays on Life-writingA Very Short Introdcution to Biography
Raymond Chandler - The Long Goodbye
Grahame Greene – The End of the Affair
Grahame Greene – The End of the Affair audiobook (read by Colin Firth)
D.H. Lawrence – The Rainbow
Laura Ingalls Wilder - The Little House of the Prairie
Louisa May Alcott - Little Women
Henry James  - The Portrait of a Lady
Ivan Turgenev - Fathers and Sons
Leo Tolstoy - The Kreutzer Sonata
Virgil - Georgics
Halldor Laxness – Independent People
William Maxwell - Time Will Darken It
Jon McGregor - Reservoir 13
Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote

Roger Philips – Wild Cooking (Unbound Project Worth Backing)

Other links:

Rules restaurant
Derek Jarman's Garden in Dungeness
Henry James's House in Rye
The Rutles – All You Need is Cash (1978)
The Rutles – 'All Things Must Pass'
Grace Dent’s Guardian review of The Fordwich Arms
Hermione Lee’s review of The Selcted Letters of Willa Cather in the New Yorker
Winter Reads: My Antonia by Xan Brooks
Yours, Willa – documntary inspired by Cather's Selected Letters  
My Antonia TV movie (1995)