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In this haunting novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of My Ántonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop performs a series of crystalline variations on the themes that preoccupy her greatest fiction: the impermanence of innocence, the opposition between prairie and city, provincial American values and world culture, and the grandeur, elation, and heartache that await a gifted young woman who leaves her small Nebraska town to pursue a life in art. At the age of eighteen, Lucy Gayheart heads for Chicago to study music. She is beautiful and impressionable and ardent, and these qualities attract the attention of Clement Sebastian, an aging but charismatic singer who exercises all the tragic, sinister fascination of a man who has renounced life only to turn back to seize it one last time. Out of their doomed love affair-and Lucy's fatal estrangement from her origins-Willa Cather creates a novel that is as achingly lovely as a Schubert sonata.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679728887
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/26/1995
Series: Vintage Classics Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 423,465
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

David Porter, a professor of classics, English, and music from 1962 to 2013, also served as president of Carleton College (1986–87) and Skidmore College (1987–99). He is the author of On the Divide: The Many Lives of Willa Cather (Nebraska, 2008) and coauthor of Seeking Life Whole: Willa Cather and the Brewsters. Kari A. Ronning is a research associate professor of English and textual editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Editions, most recently The Song of the Lark (Nebraska, 2012). She worked on the historical editing of A Lost Lady (Nebraska, 1997) and Obscure Destinies (Nebraska, 1998). Frederick M. Link (1930–2011), professor emeritus of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, is the textual editor of Cather’s Obscure Destinies (Nebraska, 1998), The Professor’s House (Nebraska, 2002), and Shadows on the Rock (Nebraska, 2006).


Date of Birth:

December 7, 1873

Date of Death:

April 27, 1947

Place of Birth:

Winchester, Virginia

Place of Death:

New York, New York


B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

Table of Contents


Lucy Gayheart


Historical Apparatus:

Historical Essay


Explanatory Notes

Textual Apparatus:

Textual Essay


Notes on Emendations

Table of Rejected Substantives

Word Division

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