Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 16:3 (Summer 1996). Copyright © 1996 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Using a fine-tuned blend of textual criticism, biography, and primary research, Gary Brienzo sheds light on the importance of the American Northeast and New France on Willa Cather's life and art.

Brienzo sees Cather's artistic life as a search for a "quiet center," a unified, comforting vision, given focus by an appreciation she developed for the "domestic qualities that enhanced life." He credits Sarah Orne Jewett for providing Cather this "alternative literary tradition," which celebrated woman-centered communities and the power of domestic ritual. Brienzo details Cather's discovery of Quebec and the appeal of its French traditions, for there she recognized manifestations of domestic artistry and the balanced order from the city's historical and religious legacy.