My Mortal Enemy

My Mortal Enemy

by Willa Cather

Paperback(Reprint)

$13.00
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, October 23

Overview

First published in 1926, this book is Willa Cather's sparest and most dramatic novel, a dark and prescient portrait of a marriage that subverts our oldest notions about the nature of domestic happiness.

As a young woman, Myra Henshawe gave up a fortune to marry for love--a boldly romantic gesture that became a legend in her family. But this worldly, sarcastic, and perhaps even wicked woman may have been made for something greater than love. In her portrait of Myra and in her exquisitely nuanced depiction of her marriage, Cather shows the evolution of a human spirit as it comes to bridle against the constraints of ordinary happiness and seek an otherwordly fulfillment. My Mortal Enemy is a work whose drama and intensely moral imagination make it unforgettable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679731795
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1990
Series: Vintage Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 737,336
Product dimensions: 5.17(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.32(d)

About the Author

WILLA CATHER, author of twelve novels, including O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, was born in Virginia in 1873 but grew up in Nebraska, where many of her novels are set. She died in 1947 in New York City.

Date of Birth:

December 7, 1873

Date of Death:

April 27, 1947

Place of Birth:

Winchester, Virginia

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

Table of Contents

About Author:

Part 1

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Part 2

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

My Mortal Enemy 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rich girl renounces wealth to elope with boy, but it turns out that neither she nor he live "happily ever after". Cather writes with purity and simplicity in this novella, and the uttering of the title comes like a thunderbolt towards the end.Quotes:On married life:"'But they've been happy, anyhow?' I sometimes asked her.'Happy? Oh yes! As happy as most people.'That answer was disheartening; the very point of their story was that they should be much happier than other people."On middle age:"After I went home from that first glimpse of the real Myra Henshawe, twenty-five years older than I had always imagined her, I could not help feeling a little disappointed. John Driscoll and his niece had suddenly changed places in my mind, and he had got, after all, the more romantic part. Was it not better to get out of the world with such pomp and dramatic splendour than to linger in it, having to take account of shirts and railway trains, and getting a double chin into the bargain?"And this one as well, also reflecting unrealized potential:"I wondered, as on the first time I saw him, in my own town, at the contradiction in his face: the strong bones, and the curiously shaped eyes without any fire in them. I felt that his life had not suited him; that he possessed some kind of courage and force which slept, which in another sort of world might have asserted themselves brilliantly. I thought he ought to have been a soldier or an explorer."On nature, and redemption:"I'd love to see this place at dawn," Myra said suddenly. "That is always such a forgiving time. When that first cold, bright streak comes over the water, it's as if all our sins were pardoned; as if the sky leaned over the earth and kissed it and gave it absolution. You know how the great sinners always came home to die in some religious house, and the abbot or the abbess went out and received them with a kiss?"On youth:"We think we are so individual and so misunderstood when we are young; but the nature our strain of blood carries is inside there, waiting, like our exoskeleton.""To throw his youth away like that, and shoot himself at twenty-three! People are always talking about the joys of youth - but oh, how youth can suffer! I've not forgotten; those hot southern Illinois nights, when Oswald was in New York, and I had no word from him except through Liddy, and I used to lie on the floor all night and listen to the express trains go by. I've not forgotten."On artists:"How the great poets do shine on, Nellie! Into all the dark corners of the world. They have no night."Klein's introduction was insightful, though as with all introductions, read it at the end to avoid spoiling the story and such that you have your own opinions based on what you've read, it's then like getting another viewpoint which you can accept some bits of and leave others. Some of the bits I liked:"Willa Cather's mode was elegy, and as it must be for all elegists, the enemy was time, mortality itself.""Will Cather was to remark that 'human relationships are the tragic necessity of human life; that they can never be wholly satisfactory, that every ego is half the time greedily seeking them, and half the time pulling away from them.'""There were others at the time of her greatest production who also made a religion of craftsmanship - Gertrude Stein, who was her exact contemporary, Ezra Pound, Hemingway - but next to Willa Cather they seem sloganeers. She quite alone, and without making a public campaign of it, put in the work and acheived a relentless purity of style. Never so pure and relentless as in 'My Mortal Enemy'."
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a strange, sad little book this is. I agree with the reviewer who recommends not reading Kilby's introduction to the Vintage Classics edition; it's muddled my thinking about the book completely.Cather, in her understated way, shows the reader the great tragedy of Myra Henshawe's life, which is that love, by itself, simply isn't enough to make Myra happy. Though Myra left her family and gave up her inheritance to marry her husband, their marriage is no more than ordinary, plagued by the same jealousies, banalities, and tiresome social obligations as everyone else's. Though Myra seems happy when we first meet her, later on, when she and her husband have fallen into poverty, she is ill and miserable, melodramatic and tyrranical, and, in fact, as ordinary in her unhappiness as she was in her previous happiness. Resentful of (and hateful towards) her husband, even as he acts as her nursemaid and provider, she allows her reduced circumstances to turn her into a whining, querulous, melodramatic old woman.Though it is tempting to view Myra's death as a redemption or a recovering of her dignity, it is, I think, simply another selfish act, the sad punctuation at the end of a life begun with a brilliant, grand gesture and yet lived with crushing ordinariness under a thin, brittle veneer of excitement and bliss.Beautifully terse, and well worth reading, though very different from much of Cather's other work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Warning you don't get what you pay for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I mean this book sure sexy, but also the chickens. I just can't get over how funny the dancing chickens were!