I love how, despite his disgust and anger, Nick is still moved by the vision — how he is unable to ignore its beauty while also acknowledging the human misery that now populates the land. This one paragraph, in both tone and theme, is the entire novel in concentrated form. Amazing.
Several years ago, in a seminar on modern and postmodern lit, I wrote a fun paper on Ezra Pound’s music criticism. In particular, I was interested in Pound’s admiration for Bartok’s String Quartet #5.
Poet/scholar Helen Vendler, the 2004 Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, last night gave her address, “The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar,” which is as inspiring a defense of the arts as you’re likely to read.
Willa Cather was nearly 40 years old in 1913 when she published O Pioneers!, her second novel. It’s difficult, then, to overlook the obvious similarities between her own life and that of her heroine, Alexandra Bergson.