Willa Cather in 1912, a year before writing "O Pioneers!"
BookTalk at Bismarck State College launches into another season Sunday, Jan. 8, with a discussion of "O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather. Amy Juhala, associate professor of English, leads discussion from 1 to 3 p.m. in the BSC Library.
The theme for this year's series centers on land - "The Only Thing That Lasts." The theme takes inspiration from what Gerald O'Hara told Katie Scarlett in Margaret Mitchell's epic, "Gone with the Wind."
"O Pioneers!" (1913) was Willa Cather's first great novel, and for many, her unchallenged masterpiece. It conveys the stark reality and mythic sweep of the frontier along with the transformation of the people who settled it. The story is told through heroine Alexandra Bergson and her life in windswept Nebraska, where success and tragedy go hand-in-hand. Here, people do not claim a land so much as submit to it, and, in the process, become greater than they were. The sophisticated pastoral is considered a prototype for later feminist novels.
Cather spent her childhood from age 9 on a Nebraska farm and "O Pioneers!" takes much from this time. In college, Cather left medicine to become a writer after an essay her professor submitted to the Lincoln Journal was published. Early on she wrote poetry and short stories and later several acclaimed novels, including "One of Ours," which earned the Pulitzer Prize.
BookTalk is open to all. Each session has a discussion leader and concludes with refreshments. Other books and dates in the series are "Red Earth, White Earth" by Will Weaver on Feb. 5 and "Dakota or What's a Heaven For" by Brenda K. Marshall on March 4. BookTalk is funded by the BSC Library and a grant from the BSC Foundation. ____________________________________________________________________________________________
About Bismarck State College Bismarck State College, an innovative community college in Bismarck, N.D., offers high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities.