Those of you who follow my blog already know what a fan of Willa Cather I am. My husband and I enjoy attending Cather conferences and seminars, although most of the attendees are professors who teach Cather and have studied her more thoroughly than I have. However, as with any addiction, I have expanded my reading beyond Cather's novels, short stories, and poems to dip my toe into some of the scholarly writing. It was exciting to all Cather fans when her letters were finally made available to scholars, resulting in the wonderful book, The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout. Having met and visited with both of the editors made the book even more special for me, and their depth of knowledge goes much further than just the letters they selected for the book.
Becoming acquainted with other attendees at the conferences and seminars is a huge part of the fun in attending. Over the years, several of them have asked why I did not submit a proposal for presenting a paper. My answer was always, "Because I don't want to appear foolish because of my shallow depth of knowledge about Cather." Honestly, these people must have read everything she has written, including newspaper articles when she was just a young girl! Not only that, they are on a first name basis with all of Cather's acquaintances. They know all of the real people from Red Cloud, NE that Cather transformed into her characters. It was (and is) very intimidating to imagine becoming well enough informed to write a paper to be read before this group.
However, that is exactly what I have committed to do. My focus is on comparing Cather's writing in her World War I novel, One of Ours, with the writing of W.W. I poets. You may remember that the discovery of the W.W. I toy soldier by construction workers during the remodeling of our home launched my reading about W.W. I. (See "My Steadfast Tin Soldier," 9/25/2014, and "My Steadfast Tin Soldier, a Sequel," 10/2/2014, in the Blog Archives.) Among the books I read (and continue to read) were poems by soldier poets. I can't pretend to have the depth of knowledge about Cather that other presenters at the conference will have, but I hope to share interesting comparisons of scenes from Cather's novel with the W.W. I war poems.
Of course, Isaac B. Werner died in 1895, before the start of W.W. I in 1914, and although this blog is about Isaac and his times, I thought you might enjoy reading about what is diverting me from working on the revisions to my manuscript about Isaac and his community. I am busy doing research and writing--but for now I am taking a little history detour to W.W. I!