Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Song of the Lark

Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is. Willa Sibert Cather
The Song of the Lark follows the life of Thea Kronborg from an eleven-year old living with her large Swedish immigrant family in a small Colorado town in the early 1900's, to a thirty-year old highly successful international opera singer.

Novels about the lives of artists, musicians and writers are always of particular interest to me and Cather provides a highly original insight into Thea's inner life and struggles against poverty and small-town prejudice. Thea Kronborg is a memorable character, strikingly blonde, kind-hearted yet determined to refine and perfect her art.

The Song of the Lark is generally regarded to be a flawed novel - Cather herself says as much in a preface written after publication. All I can say is that a flawed Cather novel is still infinitely better than the best output of hundreds of lesser writers. I loved it.

6 comments:

callmemadam said...

I've only read My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop. I was amused, reading one of the Princess Diaries books, to see Mia writing, 'Yawn' about having to read O Pioneers!. Which edition is that in your photo?

Vintage Reading said...

Hi, I have the Virago edition with a very good introduction by A S Byatt. I think O Pioneers! is a set text for American children. Yawn indeed! You may like The Professor's House, one of my favourite Willa Cather novels.

galant said...

I'm delighted to have found your blog, simply by chance. Apart from your reviews of books you are reading or have read, I like the way you juxtapose the covers with appropriate flowers. I tend to photograph my books as I buy them, and also often have something of a similar colour alongside, although not always flowers. I also try and choose a bookmark (perhaps a postcard) which mirrors the colours of the dust wrap or relates to something in the book, the period in which it was written, etc. I have Willa Cather's The Professor's House but not yet read it (far too many books in the tbr pile!)
Margaret Powling

callmemadam said...

I'll avoid O Pioneers! and look out for The Professor's House, then. Thanks!

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I was caught by the description of Thea as a striking blonde. When I moved to Wisconsin from the East Coast some thirty years ago, I was amazed at all the striking blondes I saw — part of the Nordic heritage of this part of the U.S.

It was very disconcerting at the time to see such strong evidence of one ethnic group, having come from a much more urban ethnic mix. While you still see some striking blondes, we are a much more culturally and racially diverse place these days — a welcome change.

Vintage Reading said...

Linda, hi. I've noticed that Cather often writes of the Nordic, Germanic and Bohemian people who worked the land. I do envy you living where you do because I'm fascinated with American history.

Margaret, hi, thanks for dropping by. I like to celebrate books as aesthetically pleasing objects and I'm fond of flowers but I try not to make things too matchy matchy. May I recommend that you move The Professor's House to the top of the pile!! Nicola