Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly 32:4 (Fall 2012).
Christine Kephart's book is published in a series dedicated to the late Merrill Maguire Skaggs, one of the leading Cather scholars. It honors Skaggs's memory with an original, sprightly, and captivating illumination of the motif of the cathedral throughout Cather's writing. We all know about Death Comes to the Archbishop and, to a lesser extent, Shadows on the Rock with their overt engagement of New World Catholicism and the presence within them of churches, cathedrals, and bishops. But Kephart looks for the cathedral motif throughout Cather's oeuvre, beginning with her failed first novel, Alexander's Bridge, where Kephart sees the gothic, curvilinear aspects of the bridge (built, after all, in Quebec) as presaging the architectural aspects of the cathedral. In other words, transmuting the bridge into the cathedral is a correlate for Cather's artistic maturation.