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The Professor's House
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
30 posts | 34 read | 33 to read
Professor Godfrey St. Peter doesn't like the new direction that his life has taken. When he and his wife move into their new house, he decides to keep his study at the old house so that he will not have to let go of the way life used to be. After a gas leak, causing a near death experience, that he almost welcomed, he realizes that he needs to find a new way to cope.
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mdm139
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Lazy Sunday in the library. #catsoflitsy

Cathythoughts Lovely pic 6d
29 likes1 comment
review
Tanisha_A
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

People, just like you all i am swathed in a multitude of emotions, after finishing it last night. I loved Cather's experimentation with different narratives in a single novel–both being wholesome in their individual selves–but also how sentimentally connected with each other. It's got me really thinking about the importance of appreciating things one really loves in life, while bogged down with responsibilities & "constructing" an identity.

Tanisha_A I will be thinking about it for a while. Thanks for choosing yet another work i loved of Cather. #catherbuddyread @Graywacke 🙂🎈 1w
LeahBergen Lovely review (and painting!). 1w
batsy Great review and I love the art ❤️ 1w
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Cathythoughts I also love the review & the painting 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 1w
sudi Love the painting and the review ❤ 1w
Tanisha_A @LeahBergen @batsy @Cathythoughts @sudi Thanks ladies! My love for Cather is eternal - what an enriching reading experience! And i snipped the painting from the Virago edition of this book. 🥰 1w
Graywacke Glad you enjoyed! Your review really ties it into our own busy lives. 1w
Tanisha_A @Graywacke Thanks to you! Books with such subjects are needed once in a while, as a reminder to pay attention to one's thoughts and ideas. 🙂 1w
arubabookwoman Nice review. I enjoyed your comments on the group read, and I liked the book too! 1w
Tanisha_A @arubabookwoman Thanks Deborah! Think i am swooned by Cather's prose. It's a love, haha. ☺️ 1w
Freespirit I also love the review and the painting❤️ 1w
Tanisha_A @Freespirit Thank you! ❤️ 6d
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review
jewright
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

I did feel this book jumped geographic locations a lot, but I love Cather‘s descriptions, and I related to some of the professor‘s feelings about being disillusioned with life and feeling like he had lost his true self.

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mdm139
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Working on my Willa Cather bullet journal page. I hope to read or re read all these this year. And maybe her short stories too. The Professor‘s house just arrived even if I am too late for the buddy read. #catherbuddyread @Graywacke

review
Louise
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

Willa Cather‘s work is a joy to read. She interweaves many themes and gives the reader plenty to think about. For me, this book is a fascinating exploration of what it means to hold true to our most authentic Self, when so many forces in life and our time in history seek to draw us away from ourselves. Lots to chew on in this book! If you‘re interested, see the great discussions of this book in the #Catherbuddyread group.

Graywacke I have to rethink the book a bit with this in mind. Great review! 2w
mdm139 How did I not know there is Cather buddy read group. I decided to read all her books this year and reread what I have already read. What is next months book? When do you need the books done by? 2w
Louise @mdm139 Next month‘s read is a novella called My Mortal Enemy. Because it is a short book, we‘re just having one discussion on the whole book on March 7th. It would be great to have your perspective added to the mix. It‘s a great little group full of astute, Cather-loving readers. @Graywacke leads it and does a fabulous job getting/keeping the discussion going. 2w
See All 28 Comments
Louise @graywacke Thanks for that. If you have read any of Steiner‘s work on the evolution of consciousness, you‘ll see why these themes jumped out at me as they did. Of course, they are universal themes. As the discussions unearthed, many philosophers and great writers have explored these things. 2w
Graywacke @mdm139 Wow, awesome that your reading Cather now. We‘re a small group. I‘m happy to add your name to the list. ( Follow the tag for the various discussions. #catherbuddyread ) And, yes, March 7 is 2w
Graywacke @Louise Steiner ?? 2w
mdm139 @Graywacke great! I read My Mortal Enemy Last month 2w
Graywacke @mdm139 you have to remember everything till March 7 😉 2w
Louise @graywacke Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher who lived in the late 1800‘s and until 1925. Founder of Waldorf education, biodynamic farming, eurythmy therapy, anthroposophical medicine, and the anthroposophical society. His ideas coalesce nicely with Goethe‘s phenomenological scientific methods. He maintained that spiritual phenomena could be approached scientifically and used the phrase “spiritual science”. There are interesting lectures... 1w
Louise . . . of his on how the development of the arts, including architecture, reveal to us the development of human consciousness. He was a fascinating thinker and “seer”. Some of his lectures are pretty “far out”, and I don‘t know what to think of them. But his understanding of the human task to maintain one‘s center while being pulled in many directions is profound. 1w
Graywacke @Louise whoa... I‘m going to accept your summary for now. He‘s a new name to me. (Goethe is really only a name to me too. Never read him. ) 1w
Louise @Graywacke I don‘t know if I‘m the best spokesperson for Rudolf Steiner‘s ideas, but yeah, it‘s a lot of philosophy to digest. But as Cather‘s novel demonstrates, we find these ideas in all kinds of places without having to stress out about it. 😂 (edited) 1w
cmastfalk I live Willa Cather‘s writing! 1w
Louise @cmastfalk I do too! It‘s so easy to read, isn‘t it? She draws the reader along with her beautiful prose, and all the while, she is weaving meaning after meaning into the story. How does she do it? Amazing! 1w
Lcsmcat @Louise I can totally see the staying true to your authentic self as an overarching theme in Cather. And even though one have been rereads, I‘m getting so much more out of her writing with the combination of reading them back to back and the great discussions we have in the #catherbuddyread. Everyone‘s insights give me lots to ponder. 1w
Louise @Lcsmcat I agree about the group. It‘s great to hear so many perspectives! @cmastfalk, can we tempt you to join? (edited) 1w
CarolynM Great review, and I'm fascinated by your comments about Steiner (do you have Steiner schools in the US? their educational philosophies are all I really know about about him) I get so much from the knowledge and ideas this group brings to our discussions. 1w
batsy I agree very much with your insight... Like @Lcsmcat says the battle for the authentic self seems to be a recurring theme in her work. I loved The Song of the Lark in particular for depicting the costs and compromises of an artist's soul. 1w
Louise @batsy Good to hear this about Song of the Lark! I haven‘t read the Great Plains trilogy yet but ordered it recently. Looking forward to reading it! 1w
Louise @CarolynM Yes, we do have Steiner schools in the US. We call them Waldorf Schools here. Where are you located? 1w
cmastfalk @Louise I found the hashtag. How do I go about joining? 1w
CarolynM I live in Melbourne, Australia. If I'd thought a bit longer I wouldn't have asked that question. I realised I know a couple of people who went to a Steiner schools in the US 😳 I haven't heard them called Waldorf Schools before, though. 1w
Louise @CarolynM Ah, Melbourne! I have a friend who is a piano professor at the university there! Such a wonderful musician! Yes, the first Steiner school was commissioned by a rich businessman by the name of Waldorf (of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel fame) for the children of his factory workers in Stuttgart. He asked Steiner to develop a curriculum based on his understanding of the developing child. And the rest is history. 1w
Louise @cmastfalk So glad you‘ll be joining us! I‘ll tag @Graywacke here so he can add you to the group list. Welcome! 1w
Graywacke @cmastfalk I‘ve added you to the list. 🙂 Next book is tagged here. Usually we discuss the book in sections, but the next one is a novella, so we‘ll only have one discussion at the end - March 7. 1w
cmastfalk @Graywacke Thank you! 1w
canbku That cover is so gorgeous! 5d
Louise @canbku Yes! The whole Cather series by Vintage has lovely covers. 5d
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review
Graywacke
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

A tough one for Cather readers. She‘s subtle, mixes styles abruptly, leaves the seams, and appears open ended, inconclusive. But does that make it a kind of masterwork or a kind of failure? Any way you look at it, she‘s poking holes in the materialistic roaring twenties and somehow admiring the mystery of American prehistory. Not recommended to the unwary or quick to judge, it maybe rewards openness and reflection. Thanks #catherbuddyread

Tanisha_A Picked it back up after finishing the other novel (Love in the time of Cholera) i was engrossed in. Reading the chapter where the professor and wife are enjoying opera in Chicago and reminiscing times when they were young. I am liking all the nitty-gritties of characters dipping in and out, the sons-in-law, the daughters, professor's colleagues etc. 2w
Tanisha_A I like your review. It leaves me curious as to how i am going to think about it as i go on. It's Monday though, lots of work. :( Waiting for the night already so that I get a little bit of time to sit with it. 2w
Graywacke @Tanisha_A I was swept away and lost reading Love in the Time of Cholera. Glad you enjoyed. Hope you enjoy this one too...although maybe differently. 🙂 2w
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arubabookwoman Great review! 2w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman thanks! 🙂 2w
Louise Nice review. Poking holes, indeed! With sticks of dynamite! 😆 2w
Graywacke @Louise ok, blasting. 🙂 Thanks! 1w
54 likes7 comments
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Graywacke
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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#catherbuddyread
February 8 - Tom Outland 5-7, The Professor 1-5

Two breakdowns? Tom fails in Washington and returns to far worse, before finding some spiritual nourishment. The professor, left alone with Tom‘s notebook, slides so far down he practically tries to commit suicide. And Cather leaves it up to us to make sense of it all. I admit I‘m still trying to figure it out. What were you able to make of this creation? Did it work for you?

Graywacke The picture is an elaborate iron coal stove. It‘s far nicer than Godfrey‘s, but maybe from the same era. 2w
Graywacke FYI - be sure to hunt down @CarolynM‘s review to see the really interesting discussion there. 2w
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Lcsmcat I marked a lot of quotes in this section, and they all seem to boil down to regrets. “Theoretically he knew that life is possible, may be even pleasant, without joy, without passionate griefs. But it had never occurred to him that he might have to live like that.” is representative, but I could go on. 2w
Lcsmcat I also searched for signs of Godfrey being romantically attracted to Tom, and I didn‘t see it. I think his attraction was one of almost envy - Tom was young with the world in front of him, then he was dead and had missed all the monotonous bits of life. Another quote: “He (Tom) had escaped all that. He had made something new in the world—and the rewards, the meaningless conventional gestures, he had left to others.” 2w
Tamra @Lcsmcat me too. I still think Tom represented Godfrey‘s longing for his youth. 2w
Tamra I too am unsure about the whole of the novel. I very much enjoyed the first half, even Tom‘s interlude, but then I got quite impatient with Godfrey in the final section. I wanted to shake him and tell him to cease the self-pitying wallow. But, it occurs to me he is depressed, so what good would that do? 2w
Tamra It was interesting both Tom and Godfrey experiencing their most perfect summers, Godfrey‘s triggered by annotating Tom‘s diary and fortunate absence of his family. 2w
Tamra I highlighted several passages of the cultural commentary in the Mesa section. It read as a defense of Native American culture, (necessary for the time period), but it rang rather ethnocentric to me when the standards of comparison were markers of Caucasian civilization. “Tom‘s people” were deemed more advanced than roaming tribes. 😖 But conversely Cather seems to denigrate “civilized” society as being self-absorbed and corrupted by $. (edited) 2w
Tamra @Lcsmcat yes, that was a good one! Eloquent. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat hmm. Regrets. I love that quote, but I can take it in many directions. (Post-Trump America comes to mind...as we watch our opposition crumble.) Regrets too. Live more now. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat Yes, definitely envy. But Godfrey is split in many ways. Tom or nature or vibrant mythical history...vs material comfort. 2w
Graywacke @Tamra I‘m caught on this end section. I think it‘s intentionally ambivalent and designed to make us think about different perspectives and different interpretations. I don‘t know she could have managed that differently. She didn‘t lead us anywhere, she dropped the reins and stepped aside...well, that‘s my suspicion. However, I do think there is a lot of pessimism. 2w
Graywacke @Tamra Tom on the Anasazi - he is ethnocentric and he when all goes wrong (my heart sank when we learn what Roddy did), he goes all spiritual and comes to - possession! That‘s an attack on him, I think. This history isn‘t his to own...or maybe it is. Anyway, he‘s more parallel to Marsellus than we realize, just that his possession are different. 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke @tamra The final paragraph seems to me not to drop the reins only, but to point us in a direction. For some reason Litsy‘s not letting me copy the quote, but he says that his family will not know that he‘s different b/c they‘ll be self-absorbed but that they can‘t be hurt as much as he has been already. BUT, he can “feel the ground under his feet” and is ready to face them again. So he‘s disconnected from them, but not defeated. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat But - is that the “right” thing? Is Godfrey someone we should sympathize with? 🙂 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Well, I think all humans are someone we should sympathize with, but that‘s just me. 😀 Whether he‘s more deserving of sympathy than another character? I think Cather is trying to show the separateness of people. No two characters see the world they share in the same way, and those characters who realize this suffer from that realization. There‘s a fair amount of despair in her work, and exploration of ways of dealing with that despair. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat that‘s what I meant! 😝 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Her short stories from the early 1900‘s read like artist‘s sketches look. They seem to be workings out of themes she returns to in her novels. And I‘m seeing certain things repeat, such as suicide, not fitting in with mainstream society, racial differences and tensions, etc. All in beautiful prose, of course. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat but, more seriously, “there‘s a fair amount of despair in her work” - I think that‘s a rich line of thought here. Is it really despair? And, let‘s say it is, why? Just grief over Tom? Mar-SELL-US too? or Tom‘s existence? Or... 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat maybe we should do some short stories next (not that My Mortal Enemy is long...) ?? 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke “Mar-SELL-US” Perfect! 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat i pulled that from Wikipedia ☺️ 2w
Graywacke Actually Wikipedia has an excellent entry on this book. Recommended. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Professor%27s_House 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I think the despair is both deeper and more common than grief. I think it‘s the realization,that introspective people all come to at some point, that no one ever really knows anyone else. That we are all alone. Some people never get that far. Others get farther, and find ways to connect and live while still accepting that fact. They work through it. But, like any stage of development or philosophy, some get stuck. 👇🏻 2w
Lcsmcat 👆🏻 And staying in that space can lead to despair. Think of how Thea felt in Lark, and the lengths she went to . Think of Antonia‘s father‘s suicide. Cather can go dark. 2w
Tamra On the question of whether we‘re supposed to “like” Godfrey, I don‘t know. I am rather ambivalent, I think I pity him more than anything. He can‘t even seem to decide whether he wants to live (he was so willing to accept death) and then can‘t manage to even get that to go his way. Chance intervenes again. 2w
Tamra Honestly, I feel most for Lillian. She didn‘t seem to deserve to be painted in such a bad light, at least that was how I interpreted the characterization. She is a woman in the prime of her life with a man who prefers to be isolated and is depressed. He doesn‘t seem to take responsibility for his lack of fulfillment & state of affairs either - fortune or others are to blame. 2w
Tamra I couldn‘t quite get a handle on his solace in Augusta. Thoughts? She just isn‘t imposing on him - no pressing duties owed to her? 2w
Tamra @Graywacke 😆 Good one. 2w
Tamra @Graywacke interesting parallel re: relationship to possessions. 2w
CarolynM @Graywacke Thanks for the Wikipedia reference - very interesting. @Tamra @Lcsmcat agree re the regrets and depression comments, I can't remember if we have considered the possibility that this is a study in grief. Godfrey's state of mind seems to me consistent with him still grieving the brilliant young man he regarded as almost a son. 2w
Tamra @CarolynM or maybe death of his idealized younger self? Death of a dream? (edited) 2w
CarolynM @Graywacke @Lcsmcat I've just got to your comments about grief. Maybe the despair is what follows grief in some personalities. I agree that our essential aloneness is one of Cather's ongoing themes, it seems to me that grief can be the trigger for the psychological journey you describe. (edited) 2w
CarolynM @Tamra Yes absolutely and I think a person's child can represent these ideas. 2w
Graywacke @Tamra @CarolynM or grief on the changes in society and values 2w
arubabookwoman I love Cather‘s prose, find her descriptions vivid and real. The professor‘s story, with the middle interlude about Tom‘s early life just didn‘t work for me-it never felt like a cohesive whole. I actually enjoyed the middle part, with the discovery of the Pueblo and the attempts to interest the Smithsonian and Tom‘s falling out with Blake, much more than the story of the professor. I would have preferred 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 2w
arubabookwoman that the middle part be expanded into a novel on its own. I didn‘t feel that in the context of the professor‘s story, the Tom interlude added much depth or context. True, we know he didn‘t want to monetarily profit from the artifacts, but I don‘t think that meant that he would have spurned the profits from his own invention.👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 2w
arubabookwoman I was annoyed by the lack of resolution at the end. I can accept that the professor was ambivalent about going on with life, and that‘s how Cather ended the book. But I was also interested in whether the two sisters and their husbands were going to begin to come to terms, and I don‘t think the text gives us any clues in that regard. (Although Lillian is drawn more and more into Rosamund and Louie‘s orbit—how must Kathleen feel?) 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 (edited) 2w
Tamra @Graywacke agreed re: grief over era gone by. 2w
arubabookwoman And here‘s what really annoyed me: the professor‘s going to be a grandfather!!! He should be jumping up and down for joy, not moping around. Just my personal opinion.😁And BTW, for anyone who has a Kindle, lots of Cather‘s books are on sale for 99 c and even 45c. I bought several. And also BTW, I don‘t mean to sound too negative about the book-I enjoyed it, and I love Cather. 2w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman ok, first of all, that‘s funny about grandparent joy fail. But also I encourage a revisit of the “lack of resolution” ... 2w
Graywacke As for the Tom & Godfrey parts - Cather wrote Tom 1st (per Wikipedia). The seams might chafe a bit, even if they do speak, or try. I‘m more forgiving, but also feel I see some issues. 2w
CarolynM @Graywacke The writing order is very interesting. I'm inclined to agree with @arubabookwoman that Tom's story could have been its own novel and I would have enjoyed that more. I was very interested in the relationship between the sisters and disappointed that it wasn't given more attention. As for grandfatherhood, I have a suspicion that Godfrey would have been happier about a child for Kitty and Scott. 2w
Tamra @arubabookwoman the familial duty thing is just too much for him. 🙄 At first I empathized with the fatigue expressed since everyone experiences it, but crossed the line to annoying when he began to act like a child hiding in a closet. (IMHO)It makes me wonder what Cather intended for reader response. Pity? Derision? Sympathy? 2w
batsy @Tamra This contradiction, or the push and pull of differing forces (the defence of "older" cultures vs the current profit-seeking enterpreurial drive) is an interesting element of Cather's work for me. I think there is a certain unexamined Eurocentrism in her own views, but at the same time she seems to be trying to go against the conventional pioneering, colonial viewpoint. That tension is so intriguing for me in her work! 2w
batsy @arubabookwoman @Tamra I cycled through all of those stages when it came to Godfrey :) I can relate to him, I feel for him, but I was also annoyed because of how much he can get away with being the male head of the family who can *opt out* of the messy domestic interpersonal relations and household work if he wanted to. I thought his lack of emotion about a grandchild was also telling about just how distant he's become from his own life. 2w
batsy @arubabookwoman @Tamra Which is why I expected the ending to be a lot darker than it actually was. 2w
Graywacke @batsy ( @tamra ) Just nodding at these themes. She‘s not predictable, not talking the exact same language F S Fitzgerald, for example, but she‘s addressing these 1920‘s themes from her own (older ?) perspective. It‘s really fascinating to see how she addresses her times. 2w
Graywacke @batsy ( @Tamra ) this is a great tie-in from @arubabookwoman ‘s point on grandchildren. He has opted out, male privilege (folly?) of his era. 2w
Tamra Thank you for hosting @Graywacke ! 2w
Graywacke @Tamra awe, thanks 2w
Graywacke Looking ahead. Next book should be the tagged one. My copy is 85 pages, so I suggest a one day discussion. My 1st thoughts is March 7. (edited) 2w
CarolynM Thanks Dan and everyone. Always a pleasure reading and discussing with you all. I look forward to next time. 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke That sounds good to me. I look forward to it. I love these discussions ! 2w
Louise Sounds good. 2w
Tamra @Graywacke I loved that novella! 2w
Louise @Lcsmcat @CarolynM @batsy @jewright @Tanisha_A @Louise @Sace @Tamra @crazeedi @Suet624 @arubabookwoman @graywacke Sorry I missed this fascinating discussion when it actually happened. Our house had gone mind-numbingly cold due to a leaking heating oil tank, and we were caught up in trying to get it taken care of. Thank you all for your interesting comments. I was surprised that so many of you were ultimately disappointed with the novel. . . (edited) 2w
Louise The book filled me with a kind of inner movement, a boisterous energy at the end. I think it was because the theme of being one‘s “most human self” had captured my imagination, and I found it addressed in so many layers as the book progressed. She even included something of the tribal consciousness of our human ancestors. Not to go all Waldorf-y on everyone, but I found it to be very anthroposophical in its themes. Cather showed us the. . . 2w
Louise . . . universal struggle between innocence and experience, between the pure life of the mind and the life of the physical world. I found it fascinating. On another note, I just want to add to the recommendations already given to @BarbaraBB that Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadows on the Rock are both fabulous books by Cather. I think the other rec‘s might have come up in the other discussion from @CarolynM‘s post. Cheers to all! (edited) 2w
Louise P.S. Tom‘s story is included in her Collected Short Stories as a stand-alone story. 2w
CarolynM @Louise I agree about the struggle between the life of the mind and the physical world being a theme here. I was sympathetic to St Peter's desire for space (both physical and mental) to continue his work (a room of one's own??) Because Tom was such a looming presence in the first part of the novel I felt a bit let down that his story told me what he had done before he appeared in St Peter's garden without telling me why he appeared or how 👇 2w
Graywacke @Louise i was wondering when you would pop in. We need to add your perspective, it helped me a lot previously. Hope you get your home problems resolved. Sounds 🥶. “boisterous energy” !! Do you think the professor found his most human self at the end? 2w
CarolynM 🖕he changed (or maybe didn't change) as his education progressed. Also, I would have liked to know how St Peter felt about the story Tom told. What did he think about the attitudes of the Smithsonian officials, or about the fate of the artefacts, or about the Mesa? I haven't read the 2 books you mention. I'm looking forward to them. 2w
Graywacke @CarolynM sorry for cutting in by accident. I would have also liked a more direct comment from Godfrey on his response to Tom. (That might have been out of character though...) EDITED FOR CLARITY (edited) 2w
Graywacke @Louise we will, in all our optimistic assurance, get to both those books! 2w
Graywacke Hoping @jewright will join in later. I know @Tanisha_A is working her way to the end. 2w
CarolynM @Graywacke No worries🙂 We were told quite a lot about how Godfrey felt about the words and actions of the other people he was close to. 2w
Louise @Graywacke That‘s a good question. My feeling is that maintaining his authentic selfhood is a central theme and struggle in his life. I felt sad reading that he decided to continue on but that no one around him would notice that he had changed and withdrawn. That indicates to me that the struggle continues, but at least he‘s aware of it. Many people never even notice or consider whether they are living consciously or in a kind of sleep. (edited) 2w
Louise @Graywacke, as for household matters, our landlady just told us an hour ago that she is selling the house, and we need to move out by March 31st. We are in shock! Not sure how useful I‘ll be in the next discussion. 2w
Graywacke @CarolynM I always thought he was a little ambivalent, that you had to work out his feelings, as a reader. ?? 2w
Graywacke @Louise oh man - so sorry about your crappy landlord. !! 2w
Graywacke @Louise I like the idea that the struggle continues. No true resolution... 2w
Louise @Graywacke Thanks for your commiseration re: our landlady. I‘m a bundle of nerves at the moment but trying to look at it as an opportunity for a fresh start of some kind. Who knows why the winds blow as they do? 1w
Louise @CarolynM Yes! A room of one‘s own! Like you, I could empathize with his need for his familiar workspace. 1w
jewright @Graywacke Thanks for thinking of me. We have been sick at my house, and I am behind on everything. I have the last section to read yet. 1w
Graywacke @jewright well, of course 🙂 Wish you a recovered and healthy house. 1w
jewright I think this quotation sums up a lot of the book. “He [Tom] had escaped all that. He had made something new in the world—and the rewards, the meaningless conventional gestures, he had left to others.” Tom lived the best part of his life. He lived true to himself, and he died before he had to make the compromises the profesor has had to make the longer he‘s lived. He found himself but didn‘t live long enough to become disillusioned. 1w
jewright About the suicide, I‘m not entirely sure he tried. He just doesn‘t prevent it. He didn‘t shut the window. He just didn‘t get up and open it when he realized it was shut. It‘s like this paralysis and inability to move on keep taking over more of his life. Augusta remains a steadying influence in his life, and she saves him once again. I‘m wondering if he will kind of shake this all off, and be happy in his life as a grandfather. 1w
Graywacke @jewright you‘re in line with @Lcsmcat with that quote being key. Curious what other things Augusts represents. Curious if there‘s is something to her name. (St. Augustine?, august of an era?) But, yeah, he was so depressed he couldn‘t commit suicide, it had to just happen. Augusta saved him from himself, allowed his emotional swing to come around. 1w
Graywacke @jewright i was reading the end and waiting for a cathartic moment. Tom came around, seeing his relationship to the lost tribe in a different way. But, Godfrey doesn‘t really have a full cathartic cleansing. He doesn‘t die, then just moseys along... 1w
Lcsmcat @jewright I highlighted that quote too. I think it sums up nicely why the Professor felt the way he did about Tom. And the overall feeling I saw in him was lassitude. He couldn‘t commit suicide and couldn‘t stop it. He basically couldn‘t act. But @Graywacke he does have a sort of reckoning, if not catharsis. The end says “He thought he knew where he was, and that he could face with fortitude the Berengaria and the future.” 1w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat Yeah, but were you expecting more? Doesn't sound exactly gung-ho...even in 1920's speak (?) I think I was looking for more than, “yeah, I can deal“ ( here is 2020's speak?) 🙂 1w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke No, it doesn‘t seem hung-ho, but then I would have found that jarring. He still has the same hurt, he‘s just learned fortitude, a word which, to me at least, implies putting up with something rather than relishing it. Maybe because my mother used to always say “patience and fortitude” over and over when I was a child. 😀 1w
jewright @Graywacke She‘s the other character like himself. She just keeps plodding without a lot of emotion. Everyone else in his life seems to have high swings of emotion and envy that annoy him. Augusta has a simple life and is happy with it. 1w
jewright @Lcsmcat I love this saying! It‘s amazing how the phrases our parents and grandparents can stick with us and help us through life. 1w
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review
CarolynM
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

While I enjoyed the writing as much as ever, this, for me, is the least satisfying novel in our #CatherBuddyRead
so far. Tom's story was interesting and I liked the idea of the small story through the window of the bigger story, I'm not sure that it really worked, that it gave us enough insight into who Tom really was. St Peter's changing perception of himself was interesting, but perhaps not as convincing as it might have been and there were👇

CarolynM 🖕some intriguing hints about Tom's relationships with both daughters that were never clarified and it bothered me that how Tom came to excel in science was never explored. Still, overall a pick because reading Cather's prose is always a joy. 2w
BarbaraBB This is the only Cather I‘ve read so I guess I should give her another go. 2w
CarolynM @BarbaraBB I think it would be a shame to base your opinion of her only on this book. I would recommend any of the others I've read over this. These two are the essentials, I think 2w
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BarbaraBB Thanks. I will get them! 2w
batsy Ditto your comments on the Tom's section. It was an intriguing concept especially based on the quotes @Louise posted about what Cather intended. But I felt it unsatisfactory in some way; I wanted to get a better handle on Tom's character. 2w
CarolynM @batsy I kept expecting some significant revelation, but no. I guess we got some idea about how he was likely to have felt about the money from the patent, but that was about it. 2w
batsy @CarolynM I too had that sense of waiting for a revelation of some sort :) 2w
Tamra I agree with the anticlimactic non-revelation of Tom‘s character. It did have the feel of an independent short story. (edited) 2w
Lcsmcat I‘m reading some of her short stories on the side, and she explores some of the same locations - the cliff dwellings - and themes of regret and dislocation from others. I agree that the Tom section seems imperfectly connected, but I think I got what she was trying for. 2w
Tamra @CarolynM I really enjoyed the first half, despite the “petering” out in the second. (Like that pun?) 😂 The end felt abrupt and at loose ends - like Cather just didn‘t know where to go on with it. But maybe she intended it as only a glimpse of flawed people trying to navigate what befalls them in life - all a matter of chance from Peter‘s point of view. (edited) 2w
Lcsmcat @Tamra @carolynm I wondered if she meant to end it with Godfrey dying and then thought it was too bleak so had him rescued. Or maybe that‘s a too modern reading of it. (edited) 2w
Tamra @Lcsmcat I would have preferred him dying. 😏 It felt more appropriate to the arch. But on the other hand, the rescue underscores the chance element too. (edited) 2w
Graywacke I‘ve been trying to figure out what I make of this book and don‘t have any firm opinions. The almost dying ( @Lcsmcat @Tamra ) was really interesting. Several possible purposes, including, of course, the regenerative affect (parallels Tom later on the Mesa). But, I‘m reading Dante and The Prof has been walking in a hell full sinners and Tom has been reading Virgil. I‘m seeing parallels I probably shouldn‘t be seeing... 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I don‘t know about “shouldn‘t be seeing.” My sister and I were just discussing whether authors always put those type of oblique references to other works on purpose, or if they are just st so steeped in literature that they emerge naturally in their writing. I don‘t know for sure, but I think Cather would have known Dante as well as Virgil. 2w
batsy @Lcsmcat A really interesting comment here about the cliff dwellings—I'm "seeing" the imperfect structure of those dwellings in the novel, which makes sense. Tom Outland's story as a sort of ledge jutting out... And I agree that I also felt it was heading towards Godfrey's death, but she seemed to pull back. At some cost to the tone of the whole novel, I think. 2w
Tamra @batsy agreed, I think it compromised the arch of the storyline. But I can‘t help but think she had a purpose. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat i won‘t discount anything, but don‘t want to over emphasize either. Dante walks among Marsellus‘s of different kinds in hell and Virgil leads him. He‘s in a midlife crisis, a near death experience. Tom either has Virgil, or is Virgil. And, since Virgil can‘t enter paradise, Godfrey has entered it without Tom, the roaring 20‘s, and he‘s found it rather unpleasant. It‘s a surprisingly rich territory - this comparison. (edited) 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Right. I can see Cather using Tom as a Virgil, leading Godfrey. I feel like she came close in this book, but didn‘t quite say what she wanted to say. I‘m eager to keep reading and see what she does with these themes in later works. 2w
CarolynM @batsy @Tamra re Tom's character, I think what I would like to have found was some sense of what drove him toward education, and science in particular (that interest seemed to come out of nowhere) and what impact that education had on him. Also, what drew him to Rosamond? I thought Kitty hinted at a love affair between Tom and herself - that would likely contribute to the tensions within the family. 2w
CarolynM @Tamra @Lcsmcat @Graywacke @batsy re Godfrey's "death" I can't decide what I think about this. I know very little about Dante, but from your comments about it I think it probably does provide some context for the story. Having him die would have been the obvious choice, maybe too much the easy way out. 2w
CarolynM @batsy re the cliff dwellings I love your description of the novel's structure! Also, I wonder if she was drawing some kind of parallel with Godfrey's attachment to his old, less luxurious house over the new fancy one. 2w
Tamra @CarolynM the taint of modern excess? Though he enjoyed the fancy hotel suite. 2w
Lcsmcat @CarolynM @batsy @Tamra I would have liked more of the driving force behind Tom‘s desire for education. And what sent him towards science, when his pre-Hamilton life was geared towards the humanities and sociology. 2w
Tamra @CarolynM I agree with the science. It seemed like his interest in it and the gas invention was a handy device to support the money/corruption theme. 2w
Tamra @Lcsmcat yes! 2w
CarolynM @Tamra I don't think it was the luxury of the new house that gave him a problem, I think he just liked the old house. He didn't like change. 2w
batsy @Lcsmcat @CarolynM @Tamra You took the words out of my mouth. You get a sense that Tom was motivated by something, but it seemed as ephemeral as Tom himself. Maybe that is the point; it's hard to get a grasp on a character seen through a veil of regret, grief, and nostalgia on Godfrey's part. But once we entered the Tom segment of the book I felt a bit frustrated that I still couldn't. 2w
Rissreads Beautiful cover 💜 2w
78 likes28 comments
review
batsy
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

Five ⭐ for the writing. Three ⭐ for what I felt were some structural issues; the switch to Tom Outland's story felt a bit abbreviated. Four ⭐ as a happy medium but that doesn't do justice to Cather's prose. It's rare in this day that I wish for a novel to be longer—terse, tense, & compact seems to be my thing now—but for Cather's meditative, elegiac novel of regret, rumination, & solitude, I would have gladly read more pages. #catherbuddyread

Tanisha_A Fabulous review. I haven't much made progress on this one yet. Hopefully this weekend.🤞🏽 2w
Graywacke Always love your reviews. 5, 3, 4 - you‘re all over the place? I‘m finding it‘s not an easy book to process. 2w
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Cathythoughts Great review as always ❤️👍🏻I did stack this yesterday... lots of Litsy love 2w
batsy @Tanisha_A @Cathythoughts Thank you, lovelies ❤️ Hope you get some quiet time with this over the weekend, T 😘 2w
batsy @Graywacke Thank you! Yes, I wavered between structure and writing, the latter which will always enthrall me if it's Cather, I've learned :) I'm looking forward to hearing more from you and others in discussion! 2w
Freespirit I always love your reviews @batsy 😊 2w
batsy Thank you @Freespirit 🤗 2w
CarolynM I'm wondering how successful the structure is but I'm withholding judgment until I'm finished - hopefully in the next hour or two 🙂 2w
Mdargusch Love your review and the cover! ❤️ 2w
rubyslippersreads I just finished, and @batsy expressed my feelings perfectly. 2w
batsy @Mdargusch Thank you! And the Vintage editions of the Cather books are really pretty ❤️ 2w
GatheringBooks oooh! you‘re on a classic binge! love it! 5d
batsy @GatheringBooks Thanks to multiple buddy reads on here ❤️ 5d
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review
Tamra
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Pickpick

🤔🤔🤔 Me closing my Kindle upon the conclusion. Time for reflection.

#catherbuddyread @Graywacke

ImperfectCJ Is this where you're reading? This is beautiful! 2w
Lcsmcat Oooh - great picture! That‘s almost exactly how I pictured it in my mind. Except with more clutter. 2w
Tamra @ImperfectCJ 😄 No, but it is quite fitting to the novel. I like it too, but I also know from experience what a pain in the ass and wallet old houses are. I still love the idea and look of them though. 😉 (edited) 2w
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Tamra @Lcsmcat yes, definitely more clutter. 😁 Books, papers, etc. 2w
ImperfectCJ @Tamra Well, it could be nice as a vacation getaway. Let someone else deal with the lack of insulation and upgrading the electric. 😊 I do love those floors, though. Where is the picture from? 2w
Tamra @ImperfectCJ very true!! I just googled attic images. 2w
Graywacke Time for reflection...yeah, I‘m still there (finished Monday) 2w
91 likes1 stack add7 comments
blurb
Graywacke
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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#catherbuddyread
The Professor‘s House - The Family 14-17, Tom Outland 1-4

A fictionalized take on Dick Wetherill‘s discovery of Mesa Verde, on the edge of the Colorado Plateau.

I know, hard pause as Outland sets off for DC. Also, apologies, this reader is a geologist and got lost thinking about the rock gallery instead of the Anasazi. But, take a moment and think about Outland. What does he take in, and what doesn‘t he?... 👇👇

Graywacke Then rethink, because this is St. Peter‘s memory of Outland‘s take. We don‘t get a direct tie into Outland. Thoughts on the adventure and Cather‘s creation? 3w
Tamra I don‘t have my book with me, so I‘m short on details, but it is interesting how Cather writes Tom as sensitive to the beauty and specialness of the ruins and not wanting to subject it to the idle curiosity of others, but on the other hand he‘s looting it. 🤨 Though at this point we don‘t know what their plans are for the artifacts, correct? (edited) 3w
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Graywacke @Tamra just for commenting context - since several have read ahead. I have not read ahead and feel I can safely assume he‘s on his way to the Smithsonian. 3w
Tamra @Graywacke I haven‘t read ahead. 3w
Lcsmcat @Tamra I agree. But also I don‘t feel like we have a good handle on Tom. We‘re seeing other‘s take on him. There‘s a lot of “Tom would want . . .” going on. 3w
Graywacke @Tamra sorry, I misunderstood your last question as a “where are we?” My 🦥 🧠 at work. 😐 I also think I partially answered your question - hope that‘s ok. 🤞I‘ll come back to respond to the rest of your comment later - on Outland‘s sensitivity and looting - perfect topics, imo. (edited) 3w
Tamra @Lcsmcat agreed, and I wonder if we‘ll ever get a clear view. 3w
Tamra @Graywacke 😆 Perils of online communication! 3w
jewright I was not expecting to end up in an archeological site in a Cather novel! This book is very interesting and different from what I was expecting. 3w
Graywacke @Tamra makes you wonder what happens in the same circumstances today. He‘s destroying and yet he doesn‘t want to. He wants to learn, but is destroying the information. But also this was the style of archeology of the era. Not isotopic dating, or remote sensing, or, really, archeological standards. For myself, I cringed a lot. I hope today we would be smarter. 3w
Graywacke @Tamra but - regarding Tom‘s sensitivity. Did you (or anyone else) get a sense as to his real sensitivity and interests? Why barge into this secret, anyway? Why not leave it to its natural preservation? Something is driving him that‘s not self-disregarding. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat What are you picking up about Tom? I feel I‘m missing something - like the impressions made on him by his Latin teaching priest. 3w
Graywacke @jewright I didn‘t expect Mesa Verde (which she relocates from Colorado to New Mexico ?? ) But we saw her fascination in the cliff dwellings with The Song of the Lark. Sorry, I can‘t remember if you were with us then. 3w
jewright @Graywacke I did not read The Song of the Lark, so this is brand new for me. 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke It‘s not that I‘m picking anything in particular, except the feeling that he‘s holding back. 3w
CarolynM I don't have a lot to add about Tom at this point - I don't feel that I know enough yet. As usual I am blown away by Cather's apparently effortless evocation of the landscape. The Mesa and the ruins are so clear in my mind. I felt for St Peter as Louie, with his total lack of self-awareness, stomped all over his pride offering luxurious travel and demanding to crash his friendships. 3w
Louise @jewright I also found it surprising to find this “story within a story”— a complete change of scenery and lifestyle. It made me think about what an open and pliable form the “novel” is. It can absorb a great deal of experimentation and surprise! 3w
Louise There was something of a Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer feel to the first part of Outland‘s story to me. There is the sense of a young man out for adventure, who has not yet been exposed to much in the world. For our modern sensibilities, yes, it was uncomfortable to read about their unschooled excavations. But in his own way, Tom showed a great reverence for the land and the ancient culture. This section continues, I think, to look at values, priorities... 3w
Louise ...and the self at its “most human”. Here we see the connection with the land being part of that. So the question arises, “What is civilization and how does it shape us?” If we “go native” and deny modernity, are we more human? Or was mankind‘s separation from Nature (as in the Eden exile) necessary in order to develop individual consciousness? And having developed that, can we reconnect with Nature in a new way? It seems to me that Tom‘s ... 3w
Louise reading, learning, and excavating is the more modern part of him, while the more ancient connection he feels along those trails and looking over the desert at night is closer to the consciousness of the ancient tribe who once lived there. 3w
jewright @Louise I love this comparison to Tom and Huck. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat I was hoping for enlightenment. 🙂 Outland is still a mystery to me. 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I was away from home earlier and couldn‘t look it up, but Cather never calls it Mesa Verde and New Mexico (and Utah, for that matter) also has cliff dwellings. 3w
Lcsmcat @Louise I agree that this was an abrupt shift, but that the novel as a form and Cather as a writer can handle it. 3w
Graywacke @CarolynM great points about the prose and Louie. Louie is always happy, and cheerful but never nice. And we learn he enjoys being cruel. 3w
Graywacke @CarolynM my favorite line about the Mesa: “Such silence and stillness and repose—immortal repose.” 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke “always happy and cheerful but never nice” is a perfect description of Louie! 3w
Graywacke @Louise Outland as Tom Sawyer has a lot to it. Outland is maybe a soul in conflict - adventurer and mystic. Interesting you tie his adventuring and learning. (edited) 3w
Graywacke @Louise “What is civilization and how does it shape us?” - native built to last and modern materialism - connection (or practically blending into nature) and separation from nature ... thanks for asking these questions. Were the Anasazi a better people than the Louie and the American robber barons and the culture that went along with it? Is Cather going too extreme, or hinting Nebraska pioneers were the happy medium? 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat good points. it‘s a “known” parallel, Mesa Verde and Wetherill. It‘s fictionalized, so she can move it around. And it could be another place. But it all makes sense with Mesa Verde in mind as a parallel. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @louis @jewright I‘m mixed on the abrupt shift. Not, that‘s wrong. I like it. But I also suspect it hints at Cather‘s struggles with what she wants to say here. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat Louie - right! Thanks. 🙂 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke The shift could indicate struggling with her subject matter. (I remember when I read this the first time thinking it wasn‘t as strong as her other work.) But it could also be experimenting with new structure. Novels shift like this a lot now, and we readers think “I know the author is going to connect these threads, so I‘m not bothered.” But I‘m not enough of a deconstructionist to know when that practice began. 😀 3w
Lcsmcat Regarding Tom‘s character, one quote I highlighted was “One of his sentimental superstitions was that he must never on any account owe any material advantage to his friends, that he must keep affection and advancement far apart, as if they were chemicals that would disintegrate each other.” I think this is Lillian‘s view of him, but it is followed by “St. Peter thought this the logical result of Tom's strange bringing-up & his early associations” 3w
Lcsmcat 👆🏻 so it may be him or the narrator. 3w
Louise @graywacke @Lcsmcat @jewright @CarolynM @Tamra So many fascinating comments from you all. Your questions sent me looking in my book Willa Cather On Writing, and I struck gold! She wrote to a friend about The Professor‘s House. I‘ll try to extract some pertinent lines that fit the current convo thread. 3w
Louise “When I wrote The Professor‘s House, I wished to try two experiments in form. The first is the device often used by the early French and Spanish novelists; that of inserting the Nouvelle into the Roman.” WC 3w
Louise “Just before I began the book I had seen, in Paris, an exhibition of old and modern Dutch paintings. In many of them the scene presented was a living room warmly furnished. . . in most of the interiors. . . there was a square window, open, through which one saw the masts of ships, or a stretch of grey sea. . . In my book, I tried to make Prof. St. Peter‘s house rather overcrowded with stuffy new things. . . until one got rather stifled.” 3w
CarolynM @Lcsmcat I liked that insight into Tom's thinking - he wanted what he had to be all his own doing and not to owe anybody anything. And then the final sentence of that paragraph is "And Tom had brought it along to the university, where advancement through personal influence was considered honourable." So contrasting St Peter's experience of how the world works. Interesting to think about in terms of Scott, Louie and Crane too. 3w
Louise “Then I wanted to open the square window and let in the fresh air that blew off the Blue Mesa, and the fine disregard of trivialities which was in Tom Outland‘s face and in his behavior.” 3w
CarolynM @Louise Thank you. That is so interesting. 3w
Louise Cather continues. “The above concerned me as a writer only, but the Blue Mesa (the Mesa Verde) actually was discovered by a young cowpuncher in just this way. . . I followed the real story very closely in Tom Outland‘s narrative.” (December 12, 1938) (edited) 3w
Louise Before describing the Dutch paintings, she writes, “But the experiment which interested me was something a little more vague, and was very much akin to the arrangement followed in sonatas in which the academic sonata form was handled somewhat freely.” 3w
Louise Cather also mentions that “Tom Outland‘s Story” had been published in French, Polish, and Dutch as a short narrative for children studying English. 3w
Graywacke @Louise What does “inserting the nouvelle into the Roman” mean? (edited) 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat a lot of readers don‘t connect to this one like the others. We‘ve learned it‘s subtle, and not telling us all it‘s doing and that it‘s doing a lot even when it doesn‘t seems to be doing much. I think knowing that helps us reach the book, and appreciate it more. (Not that I‘m getting it all !!) 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @Carolyn I‘m on the fence with Tom‘s character. I think these are impressions he leaves and may also be who he is. But there are hints of other things. Tom is beautiful, but is he as authentic as Godfrey believes or is he just ( @ Louise ) such a breath of fresh air, Godfrey can‘t see beyond that. (I also think Godfrey is a repressed homosexual... maybe I‘ve gone too far there. 🙂 But he does like young virile men a lot.) 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke In French, Nouvelle is a short story and Roman is a novel. I‘m just assuming that‘s what Cather meant. 3w
Graywacke @Louise Thanks again. The comment of the stuffed life of Godfrey with his little window into the world, chasing brave explorers and Tom as fresh air is really enlightening. Opens up the book a great deal. All these quotes or really enlightening. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat thanks! Story in a story, essentially? Episodic? Or is there something fundamental about the short story that is usually missing in the long novel? 3w
Lcsmcat @Louise Thanks! That‘s fascinating stuff! 3w
Louise @CarolynM @graywacke @lcsmcat You‘re welcome. It was exciting to find that letter tonight addressing exactly what we‘d been pondering in this convo thread! Thanks, Willa! 😆 And yes, “nouvelle” is French for novella and “roman” is French for novel. As for Dan‘s question about the novella serving a purpose the novel can‘t do alone, that‘s interesting to contemplate. Certainly Edgar Allan Poe saw the shorter form as a means to convey. . . (edited) 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Short stories have a different narrative arc, and usually fewer characters and the character development has to be shown more by actions than explained. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Again, not an expert here. 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke What makes you think Godfrey is a repressed homosexual? (I‘m not saying you‘re wrong or right, just asking what you saw in the text that made you think that.) 3w
Louise . . . Poe Cont‘d . . . to convey what can most powerfully be expressed in a form one can read in one sitting. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat his initially reaction to Tom, his comments about the men on the ships (both last week‘s section. I‘ll have to look it up). His disinterest in his wife physically (this week‘s section). 3w
Louise @Graywacke re: Tom‘s authenticity, it seems to me that Tom didn‘t live long enough for the trappings and responsibilities of adult life to temper his youthful idealism. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat Chapter 10 “The first thing the Professor noticed about the visitor was his manly, mature voice... The next thing he observed was the strong line of contrast below the young man‘s sandy hair—the very fair forehead which had been protected by his hat, and the reddish brown of his face... The boy was fine-looking, he saw—tall and presumably well built...” (edited) 3w
batsy Sorry for always coming in late to these—time zone difference. & I love reading through the detailed comments but I wish Litsy organised comments into threads in a more eye-friendly manner 🥴 3w
batsy @Graywacke Glad you brought up the latent gay tendencies in Godfrey; I wondered the same myself. Something quite Athenian in the valorisation of the youth, intellectual curiosity, & beauty of a young man vs his growing disenchantment with vulgar materialism associated with femininity... 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat end of ch 8 (2 posts): “St. Peter still played with his idea of a picturesque shipwreck, and he cast about for the particular occasion he would have chosen for such a finale. Before he went to sleep he found the very day, but his wife was not in it. ... 3w
batsy @Louise Thank you for sharing those quotes, especially about how she was playing with form. The stuffy, overcrowded room and the fresh air she was trying to bring into it with Tom's narrative. 3w
Graywacke Indeed, nobody was in it but himself, and a weather-dried little sea captain from the Hautes-Pyrénées, half a dozen spry seamen, and a line of gleaming snow peaks, agonizingly high and sharp, along the southern coast of Spain.” Later we learn this is the crew that inspired his Spanish Adventurers research. But - that‘s his dream shipwreck crew? 3w
Graywacke @batsy Litsy threads within a thread can be confusing. 🙂 !! 3w
batsy The characterisation of Tom feels like Cather's continued obsession (I mean that in the best way) with the pioneer spirit. There's always that schism between the explorer, the learner, the discoverer vs the current state of things (materialists, business men, the profit motive). Tom is shown as sensitive & respectful, but reading this now always raises the question of colonialism & the power relations between the explorer vs the explored, for me. 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke @batsy OK, I can see that. I guess I just wasn‘t thinking about his sexuality at all. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat last one, ch 15: on Marcellus replacing him in France: “Beaux-fils, apparently, were meant by Providence to take the husband‘s place when husbands had ceased to be lovers.” 3w
Graywacke @batsy also, we welcome your late comments and understand the time difference. You always add to the conversations, and, since you come in late, reinvigorate them. 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke No argument that he and his wife weren‘t lovers anymore, I just thought it was because they have grown apart. Not that Godfrey was gay. Guess I‘m slow on the uptake. (edited) 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat ok - and see how @batsy put it. Athenian valorisation of youth - and so on. Love how you put it. 3w
Graywacke @batsy The Spanish adventurers were terrible people. Or maybe smart brave people who did terrible things. Marcellus is a parallel. Tom ... well, looter or adventurer? I think this all knots together, but ... well, in some way. (edited) 3w
Graywacke @batsy which is to say, I like that post. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat it‘s not clear or certain. He certainly isn‘t having affairs or even admitting it to himself exactly. (But is Godfrey ever entirely honest with himself?) 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke No, I don‘t think he is honest with himself. But most people aren‘t. 3w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat true that 3w
batsy @Lcsmcat @Graywacke I didn't quite foreground his sexuality when I started it, but little clues along the way that D has quoted made me wonder. 3w
batsy @Graywacke Thank you for your kind comments :) I love that the discussion for our Cather reads is never over, always ongoing. Good point about how it all knots together. I don't have any definitive answers, and maybe we don't have to have them, but Cather's love of land and space and how these themes come up in her work will always raise these questions... 3w
Tamra This discussion of G‘s sexuality reminded of me of Lillian‘s vague reference to the wedge in the marriage - the source never explicitly cited. My curiosity was piqued. “‘One must go on living, Godfrey. But it wasn't the children who came between us.' There was something lonely and forgiving in her voice, something that spoke of an old wound, healed and hardened and hopeless”. (edited) 3w
Tamra It need not necessarily be a sexual love, but an infatuation, a mid-life longing for youthfulness, adventure, a future wide open. Rather than enjoying and relishing the present & future with his wife, he lives vicariously thru/with Tom???? I don‘t know, but it is interesting speculation. Perhaps this final section will provide more clues. 3w
Tamra @CarolynM agreed re: landscape. I could live in cow canyon. 😄 3w
Tamra @Graywacke picturesque shipwreck seems another form of isolation, like his attic and garden where he is absorbed within himself. 3w
Graywacke @Tamra ooh, another great quote, hints a lot. And, agree 100%. Godfrey wants to live in the past and hide from the present. And Tom‘s company meant a great deal to him and really was quite beautiful. Wish my college professors had offered a nice home-cooked meal every so often as Godfrey offered Tom that one summer. 3w
arubabookwoman Re the family: I agree with the comments about the professor‘s latent homosexuality. When he comes back from the shopping trip with Rosamund, he mentions Euripides going to live in a cave, and says, “I wonder whether it was because he had observed women so closely all his life.” And when he refuses to go to Paris, his wife wonders what it is that makes him draw away from his family.👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 3w
arubabookwoman He asks whether she is jealous, and he says, “I would rather see you foolish about some woman than becoming lonely and inhuman.” I think she knows him well. I have to say that I am less sympathetic to the professor than others here. I have known people who shut themselves away from their families as he seems to. 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 3w
arubabookwoman I also at this point like Louie more than others seem to (though did someone say he‘s going to do something bad soon?). I really don‘t like Rosamund. I‘m ambivalent about Scott—did he really blackball Louie out of envy? 3w
arubabookwoman I‘m really enjoying the Tom part. I love the description of the Mesa, I can really visualize it. And thank you to @Louise for the WC quotes about what WC was doing with the abrupt change of story. 3w
arubabookwoman Will try to chime in earlier next week. I always forget the discussion is Sat not Sunday. 3w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman that jealousy comment has a lot more weight and meaning from this perspective. Thanks for highlighting. 3w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman I understand about Godfrey because I hated him at first. He‘s so manipulative in how he avoids dealing with things, or confronting himself. I have come around to feel some sympathy. Now I see him as trying to manage things beyond his control (including himself), so I‘m more sympathetic. (For what it‘s worth, this conversation took the claws out of my dislike and led me to rethink) (edited) 3w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman with Louie I‘ve gone just opposite. So, we have flipped sides. 🙂 (The way he treated Rosamond in the car, intentionally hurting her when she wasn‘t able to defend because of Godfrey‘s presence, using Godfrey... that opened up a very sinister aspect to him and suddenly tarnished, for me, everything he‘s done so far. His happiness a fraudulent front to his real motives. Which are? Conquistador? Material?) 3w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman And funny about the days. We used to do Sundays, but Saturday helps avoid Shakespearereadalong conflicts and gives North American semi-antipodes (Aussies, Malaysians, etc) an easier weekend contribution window. 3w
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Tamra
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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So enjoying the descriptions of “Cow Canyon” & “Cliff City” in the Tom chapters! Right up my reading western landscape alley.

I ran across this photo of Cather at Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, CO 1915.

#catherbuddyread @Graywacke

Graywacke Awesome photo. (I‘ve held off, but will start the next section tonight...then maybe I‘ll finish right after our discussion. Looking forward to Tom.) 3w
Butterfinger Oh wow, I just finished Song of the Lark where she described the ancient Pueblo homes. This picture is perfect. 3w
Tamra @Graywacke it‘s hard to stop! 3w
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Tamra @Butterfinger she did her homework. 😁 3w
Eggs Love the photo! Was at Mesa Verde in 1966 3w
JaclynW Mesa Verde is an amazing place to visit! 3w
batsy Her writing is so gorgeous. I had to look up pictures. I must visit someday 🙌🏽 3w
Graywacke @Butterfinger that part of The Song of the Lark, in Arizona, has been my favorite part of all I‘ve read by her. 3w
Leftcoastzen What a great photo! 3w
rubyslippersreads I‘m way behind on this buddy read, but I love this picture. I remember learning about these cliff homes in elementary school and being absolutely fascinated by them. 2w
Tamra @rubyslippersreads I would love to visit the sites! 2w
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Graywacke
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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#catherbuddyread
The Professor‘s House - The Family 8-14

“The room where it happened” - this is the room in the Blackstone Hotel where the Republican party chose their compromise candidate of 1920 - Warren G Harding - corrupt and generally considered the worst American president before...uh, well, the country was changing.

Our section begins in the Blackstone. The world is changing for our professor, and he‘s not really adapting. More 👇👇

Graywacke I have more, but life interferes. Need to chauffeur some kids. I‘ll come back. For now, share your thoughts. 4w
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jewright This part just made me sad—the jealousy between the sisters, the fight over the money, and how just unhappy everyone seems. I do appreciate how Cather keeps mentioning how exhausting teaching is! I also liked the section where the professor and his wife went to the opera and kind of had a moment where they remembered what it was like to be young and in love again. 4w
Graywacke I meant to add two thought trends here. One is that a lot of things happen, but much of the meaning is subtle or in the under-current. Like when Kathleen has a nice moment with St. P in the closet office and, asked to stay awhile, immediately leaves. And we meet Outland, St. P‘s blank slate. But mainly we‘re swept up in a lot of money concerns (needs, grasping-selfish, cons etc) drowning some kind or previous underlying foundational world. (edited) 4w
Lcsmcat I‘m starting to come closer to your view of Godfrey, Dan, although I still like him better than his wife. @jewright I loved that moment at Mignon too! I think Louie means we‘ll, but his “forcing” the Professor to accept luxuries from Tom‘s money made me uncomfortable. 4w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Yes, I agree that much of the meaning here is between the lines. It‘s overall tone is sad to me, and I tend to side with those whose world is being changed faster than they can deal with it. Hence my defense of Godfrey. 4w
Graywacke The second is Cather‘s 1936 comment: “the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts.” What happened in 1922? After WWI, before the 1929 crash. I think it plays here. St. P is from before and Louie is from after. St. P has some elements of Woodrow Wilson - a professor, ended his presidency essentially in a closet (he was ill) and succeeded by the new big $$ choice - Harding. Louie might just have a parallel in Harding. Or maybe I‘m chasing shadows. 4w
jewright @Lcsmcat I agree that Louie means well, but he just doesn‘t understand the Professor at all. Thus, he ends up hurting him when he means to be nice. (edited) 4w
Graywacke Those are two thoughts going through my mind. Not sure yet where Outland plays in this. (I‘m expecting him to be an American sacrifice to sanctify the new godless capitalism. But that‘s how my imagination runs). But - my intended point is, there are many more angles. A work still wide open to interpretation, at this point at least. 4w
Graywacke @jewright on your first comment - yeah, $$ on everyone‘s mind and no one is happy about it. The opera scene was really nice. 4w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat 🙂 He‘s not fighting Louie. This section highlights that he really does have it both ways with Outland‘s $$. But, we‘re...converging. I‘m getting the professor better now. He hedges, but now I‘m getting why. He has a lot to weigh and balance. It‘s all a lot easier in that closet where he can just look at dead Spanish explorers (and their crimes of greed ??). I sympathize and I‘ve begun to like him, myself. 4w
Graywacke @jewright 2nd comment - I love this comment...the old and new generations don‘t really know how to communicate with each other. 4w
Lcsmcat @jewright Yes, he‘s hurting lots of people, including his wife by disrupting her relationship with her sister. Although I feel like Kathleen had a crush on Tom and feels like she wouldn‘t have “forgotten” him and married someone else, so that‘s part of the sibling stuff. 4w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke $ on the brain - Particularly Crane and his wife. 4w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke The one quote I highlighted in this section: “If Outland were here to-night, he might say with Mark Antony, My fortunes have corrupted honest men.” Himself, Louie, Crane? All of the above? 4w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat ❤️ that line (I missed it! An important one. Thanks for highlighting) 4w
jewright @Graywacke I love this! The professor and Crane even mention they don‘t know if Tom would have ever developed his idea for money. He may have been content with the knowledge. Tom drew the family together. Now it‘s splitting apart over the money. 4w
jewright @Lcsmcat I agree, but I feel a little for them. Poverty is hard. 4w
Lcsmcat @jewright It is, and I do too. But they are not sympathetic characters in their actions. 4w
CarolynM I'm expecting a revelation of some sort of noble self-sacrifice on Kathleen's part in relation to Tom and Rosamonde - maybe sacrifice on Tom's part too. Tom is intriguing. I am looking forward to finding out more about him. 4w
Louise @Graywacke, @jewright, @Lcsmcat Great comments! One line (of many) that stood out for me was when Lillian said to Godfrey, “I think your ideas were best when you were your most human self.” Godfrey doesn‘t want to go to Paris with the Marselluses because “one couldn‘t do one‘s own things in another person‘s way”. I love the way Cather addresses this theme even in little side stories, like when Godfrey and Crane fought for the physics lab . . . 4w
Louise . . . to be built properly but lost to the cheap city planners. Godfrey represents to me someone who wants a life that is built for his most human self, rather than to construct a showpiece of a life that doesn‘t suit him. Yet he strives nevertheless to allow the people in his life to fulfill their own wishes, too, even when those wishes exhaust him like Rosie‘s “orgie of acquisition” did. But at this point, the effort has utterly worn him out! 4w
Lcsmcat @Louise Very astute observations! I like the “most human self” idea. 4w
Louise @lcsmcat Thanks. As a theme, it does seem to explain Godfrey pretty well. He is disappointed in Crane when Crane debases himself for money (most likely by his wife‘s bidding) and loses something of his essential self in the process. Godfrey loves his family and is disappointed when they are petty and less than their most human selves, like Rosie‘s cruelly curled lip as she leaves her sister‘s house. (edited) 4w
Louise It‘s so interesting how Cather sets up two different excesses—the over-focus on money and how that affects relationships between those who have and have not, and on the other hand, Louie‘s gregarious generosity, through which he becomes so enamored of his ideas (of Paris, for example) that he quite forgets the effect it might have on someone with another sensibility. All these forces flowing in the story! The different values and priorities. 4w
Tanisha_A Ooh! I am still on part 1, at the very beginning. Not much progress yet, sigh. 😶 4w
Louise @Tanisha_A Lots of good stuff to come! I‘m looking forward to Tom‘s story! 4w
Graywacke @jewright @Lcsmcat @CarolynM Interesting comments about Tom and the family dynamics. (edited) 4w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @jewright I‘m mixed in Crane. He was really honest with Godfrey and now, awkwardly, he‘s trying to be (and I mean this cynically) pragmatic. But he said he wouldn‘t sue Tom. 4w
Graywacke @Louise love your comments. Godfrey is an idealist. I like human self and the conflict with excesses. I‘m not sure Godfrey sees it...or sees the bigger picture. I suspect he just senses the strains against his sense of propriety...and yeah, wearing him down. 4w
Graywacke @Tanisha_A I hope you‘re enjoying. It has seemed to fly by since I felt I got into it. Before that it was slow. 4w
batsy Really astute points here and @Louise I really appreciate the different forces flowing through the story, as you mention. It's so elegiac in tone for a different kind of world, a different way to exist—alluding to that "the world changed" quote, @Graywacke. Also Godfrey's potent disillusionment with his family. "Was there no way but Medea's, he wondered?" Ooof! 4w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke @jewright It is interesting that Crane, by admitting that he wouldn‘t sue Tom, grants that Tom had the right to dispose of his property as he chose. But somehow can‘t follow that to the logical legal conclusion that Tom had the right to _will_ his property however he chose. 4w
Tamra @Lcsmcat yes! Fortune seems to be a bogeyman in this novel. 4w
Tamra @CarolynM Cather is doing a good job of building up suspense toward revelation of the “mystery man.” Enjoying the glimpses of his impact on others. 4w
Tamra @Lcsmcat yes, agreed! Hence my earlier post about his lament over the commercialization of academia. His attic is an insulated time machine. 😉 4w
Graywacke @batsy that Medea comment struck me too. It was so understated and strong in implication, that I had trouble processing and had to reread and wonder - was he really _that_ angry. But - it‘s also a very apt for the era of robber-barons, busted banks and self-destructive moneyed bitter jealousies. Wonder what Cather thought of Jay Gatsby (TPH was published in January 1925, TGG later the same year, in April) (edited) 4w
Graywacke @Tamra the professor‘s pre-1920‘s time capsule - 🙂 Also interesting to think of this in light of fortune, or capitalized, Fortune and her wheel. (edited) 4w
Tamra @Louise your comment reminds me of how I was struck by Godfrey‘s willingness or sense of obligation to intervene on behalf others in his sphere, e.g. Augusta & Crane. Nothing is guaranteed to be equitable & fair in life, so he could have easily declined to get involved at all. 4w
Tamra I liked this quote (of so many I highlighted!) “Yes, and now he‘s all turned out chemicals and dollars and cents, hasn‘t he? But not for you and me! Our Tom is much nicer than theirs.” Will the real Tom please stand up?! 😄 My suspicions are raised. (edited) 4w
Graywacke @Tamra perhaps we‘ll find out (half of Tom next week, anyway.) 4w
jewright @Graywacke That‘s fascinating they were published the same year. The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time. 4w
arubabookwoman I think it‘s interesting that in at least Crane‘s view, Tom‘s ideas could not have been borne out w/o his (Crane‘s) help in conducting the experiments—that Tom was too careless or impatient to follow through. Crane says he would not have minded if it were Tom reaping the benefits, but his beef is that the wealth is flowing to someone with no connection with Tom. 4w
arubabookwoman OTH, it‘s clear that Tom‘s invention was in a relatively undeveloped state, and Louie was instrumental in providing services or $ to bring it to market. Oh well. I guess it‘s time to get the lawyers involved. 4w
arubabookwoman It‘s interesting to see the age-old arguments about the value of a liberal arts education was around even back then. And even in the science area, the issue of “pure” scientific research vs applied scientific research. From my NF reading and 2 kids who are scientists, it‘s so much easier to get funding for research which is known to have a practical aspect than for research just to advance knowledge for knowledges‘s sake. 4w
arubabookwoman Final comment, I find it a bit harsh of Louie and Rosamund to refuse to help Augusta out because they‘re upset she didn‘t follow Louie‘s advice about investing in copper. 4w
Graywacke @jewright I haven‘t read The Great Gatsby since high school. I need to reread it. 4w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman Outland‘s carelessness - is it so easy to get so focused in Crane‘s moral ambiguity, and overlook this window into Outland? It‘s a personality criticism, a human frailty in Godfrey‘s angel (told to Godfrey!) 4w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman interesting about history of “pure” academic science. As for Louie - he comes across worse and worse once we see the impact of his personality. (edited) 4w
Louise @arubabookwoman Great point about the debate about the value of a liberal arts education and of scientific research for the sake of knowledge rather than practical application. It‘s beautiful how seemingly effortlessly Cather interweaves these related themes about values and priorities. I didn‘t find Crane‘s description of Tom‘s “carelessness” very convincing. It sounded like a feeble excuse to make a claim. It‘s interesting what you say about... 4w
Louise ...Louie‘s possible role in the marketing side of Tom‘s discovery. Tom didn‘t live long enough to show whether he might have been able to market his work himself. And Crane had Tom‘s papers for 2 years without acting on them. Tom might even have found other applications, if he‘d lived, as he was so bright. @Graywacke (edited) 4w
Graywacke @Louise @arubabookwoman you have me imaging Louie as a Steve Jobs type (making Tom a Wozniak). 4w
Louise @Graywacke @arubabookwoman Hahaha! What a comparison! There‘s so much I want to say right now, but in the meantime I‘ve gone and finished the book (couldn‘t stop reading!) so I don‘t want to spoil anything. What a great read! 4w
Louise @Graywacke Just checking: Is the next book going to be My Mortal Enemy? Thanks. (edited) 3w
Graywacke @Louise yes - probably. It‘s open to group preference, if we‘re leaning a different way. 3w
Louise @Graywacke I‘m open to anything Cather! If I‘ve already read it, I‘ll read it again. At Christmas, I got her complete short stories. It would be great sometime to discuss her shorter works as well. It‘s such a rich experience to read the group‘s comments and to learn from each person‘s perspective. (edited) 3w
Graywacke @Louise ooh... I knew she a had a bunch of short stories, but didn‘t know there was a published complete collection. I‘ll hunt that down...and we will need to add that in at some point. I agree about the group. 👍 I‘m really grateful for it. 3w
Louise @Graywacke My copy is from the Vintage Classics series and is simply titled Collected Stories. 3w
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Tanisha_A
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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"The Professor had succeeded in making a French garden in Hamilton. There was not a blade of grass; it was a tidy half-acre of glistening gravel and glistening shrubs and bright flowers. There were trees, of course; a spreading horse-chestnut, a row of slender Lombardy poplars at the back, along the white wall, and in the middle two symmetrical, round-topped linden trees. Masses of green-brier grew in the corners.."
#catherbuddyread

Tanisha_A @Graywacke Hello! Hope you are well! I have just cracked this open, and i am so happy to be back to Cather's lush descriptions of gardens, character building etc. Couldn't participate in the 1st talk, but will be checking comments as soon as i finish the part. Looking forward to the next discussion! 🙂 1mo
Tamra 👍🏾 Lovely 1mo
batsy Aaah 😍 1mo
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Graywacke This is my Father-in-law‘s entire yard, front and back. No grass, all carefully selected and cared for (and labeled) plants and walkways. Glad you‘re joining, @Tanisha_A ! (edited) 1mo
Tanisha_A @Tamra @batsy Just so good. I can understand why you couldn't stop reading it, @batsy 😀 1mo
Tanisha_A @Graywacke Oh how lovely! I can understand it's charm. If i had a garden of my own, i would take my lunch, drink coffee, read and just sit there doing nothing. 😀 Thanks to you for organizing another awesome buddy read! 1mo
Graywacke @Tanisha_A (probably you would end up putting down your book to fix one of the hundred issues in the garden 🙂) You‘re welcome. Thinking a lot about this professor. 1mo
Tanisha_A @Graywacke Hahaha! I probably will. I want to think about this professor too - tonight is when i am sitting with him, for a good length of time. 1mo
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Tamra
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Written in 1925. How my gosh, this so resonates in my world today. 😖 Not only with respect to decreasing general education credits (such a reality), but forcing public colleges to conform to a business model of profitability by decreasing state funding and hawklike oversight. Sale of credits is ultimately what matters. Instructors required to be salespeople (recruiting), and focus on retention, and working with shortage of staff/faculty. 😡

Tamra The focus is less on education and teaching. #catherbuddyread @Graywacke (edited) 1mo
Graywacke Far more true now then then, I imagine. 😐 1mo
Tamra I should be clear, I do support technical education, but not at the expense of liberal arts education and definitely not the commercializing of public educational institutions in terms of profit goals. The economic benefits of public education are not at the institutional level. 1mo
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Sace ? Not sure I'm going to express myself well enough, but we focus too much on the teaching. We've got a lot of higher ups trying to micromanage or pinpoint exactly what constitutes "good teaching" to the detriment of content. You can't be a creative, problem solving thinker if you don't have a well rounded foundation of liberal arts content knowledge. We are focusing too much on specializing.... In STEM 1mo
Lcsmcat This is my view too. NC actually tracks average salaries of each major, but it‘s thrown off radically by the fact that Michael Jordan was a geography major. 😀 1mo
Lcsmcat I don‘t think most geography majors make that much. 1mo
Sace I had a Prof once who said the universities starting going downhill when they added colleges of education and business 🤣 1mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat 🙄😜 1mo
Tamra @Sace we don‘t have that aspect of micromanaging, so as our distraction from teaching is increasing admin work, committee work (reduced staff & faculty), and sale/retention. Micromanaging is awful, I empathize. As professional, we should/can be expected to fulfill our duties. (edited) 1mo
Sace @Tamra I'm coming from a K12 perspective where I am told what my category weights will be, what ratio of minor to major grades must be, the point value every assignment must have, how to format my lesson plan, what to write on my board daily. I assume it's to prove to "stakeholders" (taxpayers) their money isn't being wasted. I agree with you about making education fit a business model. No. Just don't. 1mo
Leftcoastzen Sigh 1mo
Tamra @Sace I‘ve heard that about K-12. 🙄 Ridiculous - discourages innovation and tailoring for student need. 1mo
Sace @Tamra oh well I'm still expected to do that too... Just within those very exact peramiters. 🤣 1mo
Lcsmcat @Tamra @sace That level of micromanaging is one reason I got out of education. 1mo
Suet624 Have you heard about proficiency-based learning? Our district in VT currently is running a program that is student-directed, with students having to come up with passion projects, researching, interviewing community members, and developing solutions to problems associated with their projects. It's been fantastic to see the students flourish. The only thing the district is grappling with now is providing a meaningful transcript to colleges. 1mo
Sace @Suet624 I‘d love to try that. My state standards are proficiency based, but because of grading directives from central office it‘s complicated to implement and evaluate them fairly. Also I do love the way it sounds, but first students need enough background content knowledge. There‘s still value to some of the older methods. If everything is student directed, is there really any reason for teachers? 1mo
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Graywacke
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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#catherbuddyread
The Professor‘s House - The Family 1-7

“Van Dyck's portrait of Frans Snyders, now at the British Museum, resembles Cather's described features for Professor Godfrey St. Peter in The Professor's House” http://arcadiasystems.org/academia/cathart4.html

First discussion for this. Thoughts? Progress? Enjoying? Not? What do you all makes this St Peter character?

Graywacke @arubabookwoman - interested in following? 1mo
Graywacke St. Peter‘s physical description: (2 posts): “He had a long brown face, with an oval chin over which he wore a close-trimmed Van Dyke, like a tuft of shiny black fur. With this silky, very black hair, he had a tawny skin with gold lights in it, a hawk nose, and hawk-like eyes--brown and gold and green. 1mo
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Graywacke They were set in ample cavities, with plenty of room to move about, under thick, curly, black eyebrows that turned up sharply at the outer ends, like military moustaches. His wicked-looking eyebrows made his students call him Mephistopheles--and there was no evading the searching eyes underneath them; eyes that in a flash could pick out a friend or an unusual stranger from a throng” 1mo
Tamra @Graywacke despite the physical description, I find his character endearing so far! In particular his first exchange with the dressmaker when she comes to take the forms to the new house. (edited) 1mo
Lcsmcat I agree with @tamra - he‘s my favorite. The wife and oldest daughter annoy me, but Kathleen is more sympathetic. 1mo
Lcsmcat It‘s a little hard for me to understand why he‘s married to Lillian, they seem so different. 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra @Lcsmcat I‘m not so sure I agree. 😐 I‘m on the fence. He‘s never straight forward, and there‘s always a sense of of manipulation in how he explains things (to others, but it seems he believes what he says, so to himself as well). 1mo
Graywacke I think Cather is working through the textures of character. 1mo
Graywacke @tamra - I like Lilian. 🤣 She‘s savvy. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Really? I see her as representing the “new” for Cather the way Ivy Peters does in A Lost Lady. 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat Yes, really. 🙂 She's is practical but she's dealing with a distracted, self-important husband who stumbled into success two times over and isn't interested in it. (His book and Outland's technology) Her husband literally lives his life pontificating to students and hiding in a closet, and then resenting any distractions from this. Seriously, I think he needs her, and she understands him just enough to work him over. I can go on... (edited) 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat but you also bring in an interesting perspective with Ivy Peters. Clearly applies to Louie (although he's way more sophisticated socially). But I hadn't considered Lillian in this way. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Louie is definitely an Ivy-type character. And Godfrey didn‘t get any money from Tom Outland‘s invention. It went to Rosamond (and thus to Louie.) I suppose he pontificates to students, but I liked his saying how having one or two really bright students made his teaching worthwhile. And his hiding out in his study struck me as a way to get away from Lillian - her criticism of him and her nouveaux riche attitude. 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat I'm coming back to this, but 🤐 for now...except (😁) to claim that I think Louie's success is Godfrey's, even if he pleads no interest. He's having it both ways. 1mo
CarolynM I'm with @Lcsmcat on this. I like St Peter a lot. And the book seems to be reading itself, it's so easy! 1mo
Tamra I loved the descriptive writing of the physical spaces, especially of the old house. Reminded me of my own, always work to be done, lived in, memories in every dent. Godfrey‘s attic & garden is his sanctuary from the practical demands of life, which is so relatable. 1mo
Lcsmcat @CarolynM @Graywacke @Tamra What does it say about Cather as an author that the women (in this small sample anyway) like Godfrey more and Dan like Lillian? I think it speaks to her skill with characterization. 1mo
Tamra “The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one‘s own.” Is this a foreshadowing of characters who are islands in themselves? Lonely, unknown, not truly seen or understood, or appreciated? 1mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat the jury is still out on the women for me. It seems Lillian is lonely, bored and grappling with giving meaning to her life. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Tamra Love that quote! 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat since we‘re a population of 4, tough to conclude. But, yeah, Cather is making these characters complex enough you can view them from a number of ways. For example, I like both son-in-laws as SiLs - but I wouldn‘t want either as a business associate. I‘m guessing most people hate them, as Cather tears them down, but she also builds them up. Chose your perspective. 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra good point about the holding off judgment. We‘re early yet. 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra it‘s a lovely quote. A Dante reference. I think loneliness is a theme. 1mo
jewright All I could think of was how much St. Peter reminded me of our kids when we moved into our new house. For six months, they asked to go back to our old house even though the new one was better in every way. He has success now, but he doesn‘t seem to care. I did feel sad that he doesn‘t really like his daughter‘s choice of a husband. I guess I‘m different than most, but he is kind of annoying me! You can‘t live in the past! 1mo
Graywacke @jewright I think this counts as yet another different perspective. 🙂 (edited) 1mo
CarolynM @Lcsmcat @Tamra I like Lillian, Kathleen and Scott. I can understand their points of view. Louie and Rosamond I don't like - much too interested in appearances for my taste. 1mo
Lcsmcat @CarolynM I like Scott, too. I didn‘t mean all males in the story. Just Godfrey and Lillian. 1mo
Tamra @CarolynM so far the only one I have a distaste for is Louie. 😖 Appearance driven and what yucky interactions he has with Lillian. 1mo
Tamra @jewright we loved our old house with all its quirks, for the most part. We all say we miss it, but don‘t want to move back. Funny how that is. I think it‘s the memories a young family makes in a house. There is a passage coming up in the next section on point relating to this idea. 😁 (edited) 1mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke Thanks for tagging me. Yes I‘m interested. I started the book a few weeks ago then set it aside. Kindle tells me I‘ve read 10%—I‘ll read a bit more tonight then come back and read all the comments. 1mo
Graywacke @CarolynM @Lcsmcat @tamra So many opinions on all these characters. I‘ll give Louie and Rosamond some credit, even of they‘re really flawed and arrogant. 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra ( @jewright ) you have me curious about what‘s coming. I had St. Peter not so much attached to the house, but as happiest hidden in his closet - which happened to be in that house. Hmm... Anyway, it‘s funny that all he does is not want to move and all anyone offers him, is moving help and enticements. (edited) 1mo
Graywacke I have more thoughts on St Peter - of the iffy variety. But later. Watch this spot. (edited) 1mo
batsy @Tamra I love that quote as well, and thought of it as a foreshadowing of sorts. 1mo
batsy I have a confession: I finished the book ? I loved it, with some thoughts I won't reveal until we're all finished. I found characters interesting even if they can be annoying—Godfrey is operating on a different plane from the rest. Love how he is described as being a "a servant" to the lively curiosity & critical mind of his students. But that leaves him ill-equipped to handle the uglier side of life (the envy & resentment of Kathleen, for e.g.). 1mo
batsy @Lcsmcat I'm not find of Lillian, either, but I also appreciate how Cather made me see what Godfrey loved in her—"a richly endowed nature that responded strongly to life and art". Good point about the parallels to A Lost Lady; I think that her richly endowed nature can flourish only in comfortable material conditions. 1mo
Tamra @batsy 👏🏾👏🏾 I‘m so happy you have a positive review! I‘ve been restraining myself, which is difficult because I‘m a monogamous reader. (edited) 1mo
Graywacke @batsy really interesting comments about Godfrey (a different plane... ) and about Lillian. 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra @batsy I‘m terrible at setting paces, but even if I had it better, there‘s no one-shoe-fits-all pacing. So no worries. Funny though, @batsy, that you‘re already done. 1mo
batsy @Graywacke My reading has been so bad this past month; the momentum for this was so good, I just kept going & loved being back with Cather :) 1mo
Lcsmcat @batsy It‘s a reread for me, so we may be in the same boat with trying not to reveal too much. But Cather can support many rereads, and @Graywacke , many points of view. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Tamra @jewright We lived in the same house all our kids‘ growing up years. When we moved back to NC when our youngest was 17 we got a newer house (2007 as opposed to 1920) without the odd layout and old house problems. And I still miss that house! Our middle child wrote a poem about it for her college literary magazine even. Houses can have personalities! 1mo
Graywacke @batsy I‘m glad Cather is a salve, but that stinks about your reading. 😕 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat I‘m curious, of course, about what you all know 🙂 1mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat they certainly do! 1mo
Tamra @Graywacke agreed, re: no one pace for all. No matter, especially with a good one! 1mo
arubabookwoman Have now read thru chapter 7. What stands out to me about the family is Godfrey‘s isolation and self-imposed remoteness from his family. Re his wife, her rigid adherence to social standards. But maybe for both these are just products of the time and their social position. 1mo
arubabookwoman Re the sisters, this quote, from Godftey‘s POV stood out: “ the handsome face of his older daughter, surrounded by violet-dappled fur, with a cruel upper lip and scornful half-closed eyes, as had approached her car that afternoon before she saw him; and Kathleen, her square little chin set so fiercely, her white cheeks actually becoming green under her swollen eyes.” 1mo
arubabookwoman Re the sons-in-law, I actually like Louie better than Scott. Despite his crassness, he has an innocence and exuberance I like. Scott seems mostly worn-down, resentful and envious. And did anyone else notice the unspoken anti-semitism re Louie (even though it‘s not clear that he is Jewish)? (edited) 1mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke what is the schedule re the next discussion? (edited) 1mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman - discussion schedule: January 18 - The Family 1-7
January 25 - The Family 8-13
February 1 - The Family 14-17, Tom Outland 1-4
February 8 - Tom Outland 5-7, The Professor 1-5
1mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman I definitely noticed the antisemitism and Louie‘s heritage and how he fits the stereotype. I paused a few times because of course I‘m sensitive to that. But had just put it in my pocket till you mentioned it. Cather lumps groups, but she isn‘t trying to be hurtful. Here I‘m assuming it‘s intended reflects mainly on character weaknesses. Certainly the era, the 1920‘s, was antisemitic. 1mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman that quote - I missed Kathleen‘s green cheeks of envy. Arrogance and envy... 1mo
arubabookwoman I noticed several references to Rosalind with the color violet and to Kathleen with the color green. And then there‘s the description of Godfrey you quoted at the beginning of this thread. I‘m finding Cather‘s descriptions very painterly. @Graywacke 1mo
Graywacke @CarolynM @batsy @jewright @Tamra @arubabookwoman - following up on St. Peter and comments between @Lcsmcat and I - I‘m going to post the bit of St. Peter‘s lecture below (will take a few posts). Curious what everyone makes of it and what it tells us about him...(if anything, but I find it both revealing and open-ended). 1mo
Graywacke St. Peter lecture, part 1: “I don't myself think much of science as a phase of human development. It has given us a lot of ingenious toys; they take our attention away from the real problems, of course, and since the problems are insoluble, I suppose we ought to be grateful for distraction. But the fact is, the human mind, the individual mind, has always been made more interesting by dwelling on the old riddles, even if it makes nothing of them. 1mo
Graywacke Lecture, part 2: Science hasn't given us any new amazements, except of the superficial kind we get from witnessing dexterity and sleight-of-hand. It hasn't given us any richer pleasures, as the Renaissance did, nor any new sins-not one! Indeed, it takes our old ones away. 1mo
Graywacke Lecture, part 3: It's the laboratory, not the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. You'll agree there is not much thrill about a physiological sin. We were better off when even the prosaic matter of taking nourishment could have the magnificence of a sin. I don't think you help people by making their conduct of no importance-you impoverish them. 1mo
Graywacke Lecture, part 4: As long as every man and woman who crowded into the cathedrals on Easter Sunday was a principal in a gorgeous drama with God, glittering angels on one side and the shadows of evil coming and going on the other, life was a rich thing. The king and the beggar had the same chance at miracles and great temptations and revelations. 1mo
Graywacke Lecture, part 5: And that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own little individual lives. It makes us happy to surround our creature needs and bodily instincts with as much pomp and circumstance as possible. Art and religion (they are the same thing, in the end, of course) have given man the only happiness he has ever had.” 1mo
Graywacke As context - he is responding to a student‘s unknown comment and he later notes to his wife that it‘s one of his favorites students, one who is unusually interesting. 1mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman Yes, I noticed the anti-semitism. I tend to give older writers a pass on misogyny, racism and such unless they‘re blatant. I try to judge by their own time. And like @Graywacke I didn‘t see animus so much as sloppy shorthand. Not that it‘s ok, just understandable. Scott and Kathleen‘s envy bothered me, but not as much as Rosamond‘s arrogance and snobbery. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke As to the lecture, I wish we knew what the student had said that set him off. The end “you must tell us next time what science has done . . . besides make us comfortable.” struck me in two ways. He could have been challenging the student to think more deeply (I‘ve said things I didn‘t believe to students to make them examine glib assumptions) or, and I think this is more likely, 👇🏻 1mo
Lcsmcat it came from a depressing sense that his values and life work were passing “out” and a new age was coming in that had made his eldest daughter very comfortable, but had given her character nothing. Tom‘s invention, after all, was scientific. And he had encouraged him. So I didn‘t read the lecture as his philosophy so much as his mood. 1mo
CarolynM @Graywacke I think it's ridiculous to assert that science has given us only superficial amazements - medical science for one has clearly given a lot more than that - but it is equally ridiculous to think science can take the place of art or religion (if you take the term religion to cover all "designs for living"). I did however like the line in the lecture? 1mo
CarolynM ? @Graywacke "and that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own little individual lives" (edited) 1mo
CarolynM @arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat Yes, the antisemitism is awful, but we have to understand the book was written at a time when anything "other" was stigmatised. I think it is good to be reminded of the way things were in the past so we know why we're fighting for full equality and against backsliding. 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @CarolynM such interesting answers already 1mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat yes, great question! And I too have done that with students as well in my ethics course, in fact I do it frequently. 1mo
Tamra @CarolynM agreed. Sometimes it is really hard to swallow, and I have quit or tossed some that were blatant. But usually I acknowledge and move on. 1mo
Tamra @CarolynM that was a passage I commented upon to my husband. I sympathize because I have concerns about all the STEM focus these days in school, but there is no question the degree of comfort and intellectual satisfaction science has contributed to humanity. I am guessing Godfrey is referring to pursuit of “the big questions” in life. Though one can argue science contributes to those too. 1mo
Tamra This is such a difficult format to discuss in! 😆 But I‘m still grateful for it! 1mo
Tamra @Graywacke re: pt 5 I have had similar thoughts about organized religion. It gives structure and meaning to what otherwise may seem random & chaotic. 1mo
Tamra @CarolynM 👍🏾 I liked that line too. (edited) 1mo
CarolynM @Tamra The format does make it difficult, but sometimes I'm grateful for it because it makes me think more carefully about what I'm saying and not try to address everything. 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra yes - we‘re stretching the Litsy system here. (But it‘s what got us here). 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat on the lecture- “his values and life work were passing” - that I hadn‘t considered at all. 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @CarolynM @tamra This was fun. Terrific answers. It caught my attention because he‘s not answering openly, but “pontificating” to what sounds like a misguided student. (I was surprised when he later said it was a favorite). And yet - everything he says is subjective. Not a hard fact or even hard philosophical principle in there. 1mo
Graywacke I highlighted it because it‘s for me the clearest touchpoint on an aspect of St. Peter. It‘s an empty lecture (whether we agree with him or not, I don‘t think there‘s anything really defensible) - and yet it‘s presented authoritatively. It‘s like a fb post on religion or politics. That‘s why I worry about St. Peter so far. He sounds nice, but he‘s slippery and maybe ultimately an empty suit. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Tamra I too have concerns about our society‘s emphasis on STEM to the exclusion of the humanities. I think a liberal arts education teaches people to think, and that, in turn, can produce great science as well as great art. 1mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat @Graywacke I‘m curious to find out how/if the science comment relates to Tom and his invention and ultimately his/their relationships. 1mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat 👍🏾 How do we know where to go without knowing where we‘ve been and who we have been? 1mo
Graywacke @Tamra me too! Curious what made Outland so special (and my skeptical side adds, if anything ) 1mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke “presented authoritatively” - I‘m not sure I agree. Scott responded to it with what sounds like a warning. “We heard part of your lecture, by the way. How you get by the Methodists is still a mystery to me." 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat wasn‘t that a curious comment by Scott? My first thought was - is he teaching theology? Why should he need to get it by a religious group? But otherwise I didn‘t understand this. Maybe I‘m miss understanding “Methodist”. By authoritatively - I meant as professor to student, without any sense of non-expertise. 1mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I assumed it was a Methodist-owned college. And in that sense it would be authoritatively. But I feel like Godfrey is having a difficult time, and as such, isn‘t on his best game. He feels like a lost soul in some respects. His world is changing and he can‘t keep up. (edited) 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat that all makes sense to me. 1mo
Louise Greetings, All! I‘m chiming in late and have enjoyed reading all your comments. For me, it‘s been an unusual experience to pause reading John Williams‘ book Stoner in order to read Cather‘s book for this group discussion. Both books are about male college professors. Both are quiet books. Yet the inner feeling while reading them is utterly different. In Cather‘s book, I‘m particularly enjoying the underlying philosophical themes. Will they clash? 1mo
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Tamra
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Enjoying every chapter! I‘ve highlighted several passages already. The Professor and his office are so endearing. 👍🏾 @Graywacke #catherbuddyread

Nebklvr I need to get back to Cather. 1mo
64 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Graywacke
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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St. Peter has a hallow. ☺️

(Sorry, Professor Godfrey St. Peter)

#catherbuddyread

Graywacke huh...so his name is God Free St. Peter ? 1mo
batsy Ha! I like that... God Free... 1mo
48 likes2 comments
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batsy
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Cather's writing is like fine wine; you can read disappointing books and always go back to her for something to strike you with its unexpected depth and insight 😍

#catherbuddyread @Graywacke

Lcsmcat These passages spoke to me too. 1mo
Graywacke 🧡 vain-glorious chivalry 🙂 I‘ll start today, I think. I miss being in her mindset. 1mo
Tanisha_A I am going to start it tomorrow. Looking forward! 😍 1mo
See All 10 Comments
Scochrane26 This is an author I really need to read but haven‘t yet. 1mo
batsy @Lcsmcat I loved this brief back and forth between them and am intrigued to see how this marriage is depicted. 1mo
batsy @Graywacke @Tanisha_A I missed that, too, and it feels good to be "back" ? 1mo
batsy @Scochrane26 If you'd like to join the #catherbuddyread for this book, pls feel free! @Graywacke leads our discussions and the first one isn't until the 18th. 1mo
Lcsmcat @batsy It seems to be a different kind of marriage than she has portrayed in other works. 1mo
Scochrane26 @batsy I think I want to read My Antonia. One of my favorite authors (Silas House) has said that it is one of his favorite books. 1mo
batsy @Scochrane26 That's a good one! If you have the time and inclination I recommend the Prairie Trilogy: O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Antonia. They're not connected but reading it in that order was an illuminating experience :) 1mo
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Lcsmcat
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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So happy to get back to Cather‘s prose! #catherbuddyread @Graywacke

Graywacke You‘re setting the pace (I haven‘t started yet ☺️) 2mo
Tamra @Graywacke neither have I! 2mo
Lcsmcat @Tamra @Graywacke It‘s from the 1st chapter. I‘m not very far in. 2mo
Louise Cather is so great with these atmospheric details! 1mo
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Graywacke
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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As always with the #catherbuddyread anyone is welcome to join with our little group.

Graywacke Of course, please let me know if you would like off the list. 2mo
See All 22 Comments
Tamra I‘m in! 😁 2mo
Lcsmcat I‘m in. 2mo
Suet624 Thank you so much for thinking of me. I can‘t jump in on this one, but would be interested in the next selection. if you can add me to your list, that would be great. 2mo
Hooked_on_books Thanks for including me, but you can take me off the list. I enjoyed joining in on the one book! 2mo
jewright I‘m excited to read this one. I‘m going to try to stay on track and not read ahead this time! 2mo
Graywacke @Tamra @Lcsmcat 👍 @jewright 🙂 (edited) 2mo
Louise I have ordered the book and am looking forward to the discussions. Thanks for organizing this! 2mo
Graywacke @Suet624 you‘re on. Next is likely My Mortal Enemy. Timing is uncertain. @Hooked_on_books you‘re off 🙂 (sorry) 2mo
CarolynM I'm in, thanks. Looking forward to it. 2mo
Sace Awesome! Looking forward to it. 2mo
Graywacke @Sace 👍 2mo
SeaBreezeReader Updating my comment, as I won't be able to participate currently. Sorry. Wishing you all a good discussion though... (edited) 1mo
Graywacke @SeaBreezeReader Sorry you can‘t join. Hope you do get chance to read it. Let me know if you want off the list on future posts. Otherwise I‘ll keep tagging you. 1mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @CarolynM @jewright @crazeedi @Tanisha_A @Louise @Sace @Tamra @batsy - just a reminder, first discussion is a week away. (Yes, I‘ve been neglectful on Litsy. It‘s a New Year thing. I‘ll be back to normal soon.) 1mo
Lcsmcat Looking forward to it! 1mo
Louise The book came in the mail a couple of days ago. Will dive in soon! 1mo
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Lcsmcat
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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There seems to be a bit of a color theme to my January reads, but I keep hearing Elmo‘s voice: 🎶 “One of these things is not like the other” 😀 The “misfit” is for my irl book club. The others are for #ReadWithMrBook, #AuthoraMonth, #DepthsofGlory, and #catherbuddyread. What else will I read? Time will tell. Happy New Year y‘all!

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jewright
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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I‘m ready! This came in the mail today! #carherbuddyread @Graywacke

Lcsmcat I‘ve got my copy too! 2mo
7 likes1 comment
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ephemeralwaltz
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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I wish I could post a cute sunny windowsill with flowers and my current read but I don't have one so here are a few covers on my TBR that I love and feature #windows ! Excited to be reading The Secret Life of Bees for #LMPBC round 2.

#ReadingResolutions @Jess7

Jess7 Nice!! 2y
50 likes1 comment
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ErinC
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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Had to hit up my local library before they close for the holiday weekend!

Dolly It's funny, I don't need books at the moment but just the fact that the library will be closed tomorrow left me with a panicky feeling. 2y
Louise I did the same thing! My pile of books is already too high, but I couldn't resist the new book by Gabrielle Zevin 2y
SaraBeagle I drove by the Millard branch on my way home and the lot was completely full! 2y
ErinC @SaraBeagle the lot here was too. I had to circle twice before getting a spot! 2y
58 likes4 comments
review
Readerann
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
Pickpick

I liked the first half better than the second, but Cather is one heck of a writer. #1001books

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Readerann
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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I am loving this book and I don‘t know why. Maybe it‘s just Cather‘s writing. In any case, it‘s always a great pleasure to escape into literature (and as I suspect is the case with many of us, that escape is needed a little more often these days). #1001books

charl08 Gorgeous cover too. 2y
Readerann @charl08 Yes, it is lovely! 2y
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Sarahreadstoomuch
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
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My reading buddy on this gray Saturday morning. I just love Cather - she‘s really pulling at my archaeology interests in this section of the story....

britt_brooke What a cutie! 2y
Reecaspieces ❤️❤️❤️ 2y
StephBengtson So cute! 😍 2y
Sarahreadstoomuch Thanks everyone! She‘s trying hard to stay a lap dog but she just keeps growing! 2y
33 likes2 stack adds5 comments
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Books_and_Scissors
Professor's House | Willa Cather
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review
Dolly
The Professor's House | Willa Cather
Pickpick

Great book with good straightforward quality writing as it used to be. A book you can recommend without embarrassing gratuitous sex and violence. A solid read.

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