5 Bank Street: The Listserv for Willa Cather Scholars


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Melissa Homestead <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
5 Bank Street: The Listserv for Willa Cather Scholars
Sun, 9 Jun 2013 20:08:40 +0000
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Becky et al.,

A few points to consider.

1) You are reading only about 15% of the letters in the Selected Letters
volume, and Andy and Janis privileged letters that included substantial
commentary by Cather about her works (which happens to mean that Sergeant
is heavily represented)
2) We really have no idea how many other correspondents Cather had that we
may never know about, so
3) It is really difficult to make any judgments based on quantity of
letters or references in letters, but still
4) It is also significant that Cather mentions Sergeant barely at all in
any extant correspondence with others, while she mentions Lewis quite
frequently (see, e.g., her letters to her family--no Sergeant, plenty of

All in all, the lack of mentions of Lewis in letters to Sergeant is not
particularly meaningful. All it tells us is that Cather and Lewis did not
share the friendship with Sergeant.


Melissa J. Homestead
Susan J. Rosowski Professor of English &
Program Faculty in Women's & Gender Studies
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
202 Andrews Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0333

On 6/9/13 6:17 PM, "Becky Roorda" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>OK, so I'm replying to my own post--but I simply had to say how much I'm
>enjoying these letters. I'm savoring them, so I'm only up to early 1917,
>currently reading a couple of letters Cather wrote to her mother. These
>letters strike me as dutiful and sweet, newsy letters about things she
>thought would interest her mother. Cather was a good if unconventional
>daughter, and I don't think she ever gave herself a break about that. As
>a daughter of a very "eccentric" 88-year-old mother, I have some
>My favorite review of this volume, so far, is by Jennifer Howard at The
>Chronicle Review, someone who actually did her homework and interviewed
>people who had knowledge of the project.
>What have I found interesting so far? Well, some of my favorite letters
>have been the ones that Cather wrote to Elizabeth ("Elsie") Singer
>Sergeant (c. 1915 or so, before and after). I was struck by how Cather
>frequently mentioned Isabelle McClung in these letters, yet she NEVER
>mentions Edith Lewis. Just an observation--interesting, I thought. Does
>anyone have any insight into that?
>ESS was a friend of Amy Lowell, and Cather was an "enemy" of Amy Lowell.
>I once thought it would be interesting to find the letters between ESS
>and Lowell and see if Cather is mentioned in any of them--but it's a
>project I never got around to. I also wish that someone might do a volume
>of letters between ESS and Cather, putting them in context, etc. Is there
>anyone out there working on ESS? She is the older sister of Katharine
>Sergeant Angell White, fiction editor for the New Yorker from about 1925
>to 1960, so that fact adds an interesting dimension. Anyone interested in
>magazine publishing in the 1920s-1930s could have some fun with this.