Ann Romines on Willa Cather’s Selected Letters

Scholars working on Willa Cather, such as our own Professor Ann Romines, are very pleased with the beautifully-edited new edition The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, which Professor Romines calls an “amazing and transformative book.”

From the ChronicleWilla Cather’s letters are being made public
 for the first time. 
The Selected Letters of Willa Cather,
due out next month,
is edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout
and features about a fifth of the writer’s 3,000 known letters.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, in an article quoting Professor Romines here, reports:

“Many living people have cared a great deal for Cather’s work since she sent that cri de coeur 75 years ago. But it has been next to impossible for scholars or anyone else to quote from the thousands of letters the author wrote to Roscoe and other family members, friends, publishers, and other correspondents. Cather died in 1947, and her will made it clear she did not want her letters published or her works dramatized. The Willa Cather Trust, created to manage her intellectual property after her death, enforced her wishes. That restriction put the letters, rich in detail about the writer’s creative, personal, and business lives, out of quotable reach.
“All of us Cather scholars have become very skilled in paraphrase,” says Ann Romines, a professor of English at George Washington University and an expert on Cather’s work. “It was very destructive to Cather scholarship for many years.”
Romines and other Cather scholars need paraphrase no more. In April, Alfred A. Knopf brings out the Selected Letters of Willa Cather, a nearly 700-page volume that begins with Cather’s teenage years in Red Cloud, Neb., and ends right before her death. Two Cather scholars, Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, edited the book, granted permission by the Cather trust after the death, in March 2011, of Charles E. Cather, the author’s nephew and last designated literary executor.”
We share Professor Romines’s excitement about the volume and are pleased to see her longstanding work on Cather noted in the Chronicle.

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