Synopses & Reviews
The daughter of a Swedish minister growing up in Colorado, Thea Kronborg's adolescent ability on the piano is encouraged by her eccentric German music teacher, Professor Wuncsch, and by the kindly but unhappily married Dr. Howard Archie. Set apart from the townspeople by her talents, Thea's friends are far from conventional. At 17 she leaves them and her mother's influence to go to Chicago where she studies with the pianist Andor Harsanyi. Having overheard her singing in a church, he is the mentor who discovers the potential of Thea's singing voice and sends her to study with the chill and selfish Madison Bowers, whom she dislikes. Her story moves to Arizona when she and a wealthy young brewer, Fred Ottenburg fall in love. A tension between her relationship with him and the driving artistic impulse that has always ruled her develops and becomes the novel's compelling central theme.
Cather's lyrical, atmospheric and moving novel is a thinly veiled autobiography of a female artist in America at the turn of the century. A mature work filled with memorable characters all of whom influence Thea in different ways, The Song of the Lark deserves to be read alongside O Pioneers! and My Antonia and fully justifies Cather's status as one of America's greatest twentieth-century writers.
Cather's lyrical and atmospheric novel tells the story of a piano prodigy at the turn of the century who moves around the United States in pursuit of her musical studies, eventually falling in love with a wealthy brewer in Arizona. The tension between their relationship and her driving artistic impulse becomes the story's central theme.
"The time will come when she will be ranked above Hemingway." --Leon Edel
In this powerful portrait of the self-making of an artist, Willa Cather created one of her most extraordinary heroines. Thea Kronborg, a minister's daughter in a provincial Colorado town, seems destined from childhood for a place in the wider world. But as her path to the world stage leads her ever farther from the humble town she can't forget and from the man she can't afford to love, Thea learns that her exceptional musical talent and fierce ambition are not enough.
It is in the solitude of a tiny rock chamber high in the side of an Arizona cliff--"a cleft in the heart of the world"--that Thea comes face to face with her own dreams and desires, stripped clean by the haunting purity of the ruined cliff dwellings and inspired by the whisperings of their ancient dust. Here she finds the courage to seize her future and to use her gifts to catch "the shining, elusive element that is life itself--life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose." In prose as shimmering and piercingly true as the light in a desert canyon, Cather takes us into the heart of a woman coming to know her deepest self.
This text offers Willa Sibert Cather's lyrical, atmospheric and moving novel, a thinly veiled autobiography of a female artist in America at the turn of the century.