Death Comes for the Archbishop

Introduction by Claire Messud
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There is something epic--almost mythical--about this sparsely beautiful novel, although the story it tells is that of a single human life, lived simply in the silence of the desert. In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty ears that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows--gently, although he must contend with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Out of these events Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended.

"From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification."--The New York Times
WILLA CATHER was born in Virginia in 1873, and was about nine years old when her family moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, she worked for a Lincoln, Nebraska, newspaper, then moved to Pittsburgh and finally to New York City. There she joined McClure’s magazine. After meeting the author Sarah Orne Jewett, she decided to quit journalism and devote herself full time to fiction. Her first novel, Alexander’s Bridge, appeared in 1912, but her place in American literature was established with her first Nebraska novel, O Pioneers!, published in 1913, followed by her most famous pioneer novel, My Antonia, in 1918. In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. Her other novels include Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock, The Song of the LarkThe Professor’ s HouseMy Mortal Enemy, and Lucy Gayheart. She died in 1947. View titles by Willa Cather

“A truly remarkable book ... Soaked through and through with atmosphere ... From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification.” —The New York Times

 "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the uiverse around us.” —Rebecca West

 “[Cather’s] descriptions of the Indian mesa towns on the rock are as beautiful, as unjudging, as lucid, as her descriptions of the Bishop’s cathedral. It is an art of ‘making,’ of clear depiction—of separate objects, whose whole effect works slowly and mysteriously in the reader, and cannot be summed up.... Cather’s composed acceptance of mystery is a major, and rare, artistic achievement.” —A. S. Byatt

About

There is something epic--almost mythical--about this sparsely beautiful novel, although the story it tells is that of a single human life, lived simply in the silence of the desert. In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty ears that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows--gently, although he must contend with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Out of these events Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended.

"From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification."--The New York Times

Author

WILLA CATHER was born in Virginia in 1873, and was about nine years old when her family moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, she worked for a Lincoln, Nebraska, newspaper, then moved to Pittsburgh and finally to New York City. There she joined McClure’s magazine. After meeting the author Sarah Orne Jewett, she decided to quit journalism and devote herself full time to fiction. Her first novel, Alexander’s Bridge, appeared in 1912, but her place in American literature was established with her first Nebraska novel, O Pioneers!, published in 1913, followed by her most famous pioneer novel, My Antonia, in 1918. In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. Her other novels include Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock, The Song of the LarkThe Professor’ s HouseMy Mortal Enemy, and Lucy Gayheart. She died in 1947. View titles by Willa Cather

Praise

“A truly remarkable book ... Soaked through and through with atmosphere ... From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification.” —The New York Times

 "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the uiverse around us.” —Rebecca West

 “[Cather’s] descriptions of the Indian mesa towns on the rock are as beautiful, as unjudging, as lucid, as her descriptions of the Bishop’s cathedral. It is an art of ‘making,’ of clear depiction—of separate objects, whose whole effect works slowly and mysteriously in the reader, and cannot be summed up.... Cather’s composed acceptance of mystery is a major, and rare, artistic achievement.” —A. S. Byatt

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