Bibliography of Willa Cather's Reading

This bibliography was created by Sharon Hoover and Melissa Ryan. They know that the existing work, though large, is incomplete, and they invite interested scholars, readers, and students to submit new works to the bibliography. To do so, please contact the editor of the Willa Cather Archive at . Any resource that attempts to be comprehensive depends upon a community of scholars, readers, and other interested parties.

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Total Number of Entries in Reading Bibliography: 1056


  1. Author: Virgil
    Title: Aeneid
    Date: c. 20 B.C.E.
    Genre: poetry
    Note Relating to Cather: In "The Namesake," Lyon Hartwell found a copy of the Aeneid in his uncle's trunk. Both Jim Burden and Tom Outland read the Aeneid before entering the university. Tom Outland specifically recites from memory for Godfrey St. Peter: "Infandum, reginina, jubes [iubes] renovare dolorem ("Beyond all words, O queen, is the grief thou biddest me revive" Book 2, l. 3). Finally, in Shadows on the Rock, Auclair compares Blinker to Dido in the Aeneid. Auclair tells Cecile the words of Queen Dido: "Having known misery, I have learned to pity the miserable." Later, the narrator says, "when an adventurer carries his gods with him into a remote and savage country, the colony he founds will, from the beginning, have graces, traditions, and riches of the mind and spirit" (See book 1, l.6). According to a note in My Antonia, "Cather knew Virgil's Latin poem well, having studied it both in Red Cloud and at the University of Nebraska." In Shadows on the Rock the line "inferretque deos Latio" ("and he brought his gods to Latium")is from Book 1, line 6. In an 1895 Courier article Cather writes: "There have been innumerable attempts to dramatize that greatest love story of the ages. They began with Virgil, who tried to do it in that dramatic fourth book of the Aeneid in the person of the infelix Dido. Since then poets and dramatists and novelists galore have struggled with it. But among them all the great William [Shakespeare] is the only man who has made a possible character of the Egyptian queen."
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 145; (My Antonia Book II, Chap. 14; The Professor's House Book I, Chap. 10; Book II, Chapp. 6; Shadows on the Rock Book II, Chap. 7; Book 3, Chap. 6; My Antonia Scholarly Edition, note 170; Shadows on the Rock Book II, Chap. 6; Courier 10/26/1895

  2. Author: Virgil
    Title: Ecologues
    Date: c. 42-37 B.C.E.
    Genre: poetry
    Note Relating to Cather: In My Antonia, Jim thinks of Virgil bringing the Muse "to his father's fields, 'sloping down to the river and to the old beech trees with broken tops'"; the line is from Virgil's Eclogue IX.
    Note Source: My Antonia Book III, Chap. 2; My Antonia Scholarly Edition, note 200

  3. Author: Virgil
    Title: Georgics
    Date: c. 36-35 B.C.E.
    Genre: poetry
    Note Relating to Cather: In a letter, Cather says that seeing farmers in fields around Naples reminds her of the Georgics. According to a note in My Antonia, "It is very likely that she read Virgil's Georgics in Lincoln, from which she drew the "Optima dies... prima fugit" quotation [the novel's epigraph] that provides a haunting theme for Jim's memories of his youth and college years" (Georgics Book III, lines 66-67). Jim studies the text with Gaston Cleric, with particular emphasis on Book III, lines 10-12: "for I shall be the first, if I live, to bring the Muse into my country."
    Note Source: A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather #137; My Antonia Scholarly Edition, note 1, note 197

  4. Author: Virgil
    Note Relating to Cather: In a letter, Cather remarks that it is good to read Virgil at the end of a difficult day. According to Lewis, Cather read the Iliad, Virgil, and Ovid with William Ducker, the town dreamer (and "failure") while living in Red Cloud.
    Note Source: A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather #1365; Lewis 21