O Pioneers!

O Pioneers!

by Willa Cather


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This powerful early Cather novel, a landmark of American fiction, tells the story of the young Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her in charge of the family and of the Nebraska lands they have struggled to farm. In Alexandra's lifelong fight to survive and succeed, Cather relates an important chapter in the history of the American frontier.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486277851
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 11/04/1993
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 334,506
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
Age Range: 11 Years

About the Author

Susan J. Rosowski (1942-2004). Charles W. Mignon is professor emeritus of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Kathleen Danker is an assistant professor of English at South Dakota State University. David Stouck is a professor of English at Simon Fraser University.

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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "O Pioneers!"
by .
Copyright © 2012 Willa Cather.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Part I The Wild Land 13

Part II Neighboring Fields 71

Part III Winter Memories 159

Part IV The White Mulberry Tree 179

Part V Alexandra 231

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[Kate Reading] delivers the vivid narrative with dulcet tones and magnificent phrasing.... Listeners will enjoy the beauty of her delivery." —-AudioFile

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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XXO Pioneers! (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cather is a very talented writer and uses many allusions making the book interesting and charming. Her decriptions of charachters such as Alexandra Bergson is imperssive, not to mention that the whole theme of this story is humbling and teaches a lesson. READ IT!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This beautiful novel deserves much more than a five-star rating. One of the greatest American classics. Highly recommended for all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a bit hesitant to read this because I have always hated 'classics' and I figured I'd have a difficult time getting into it. I was way off. I breezed right through this book and I loved it! I love reading about the hardships of the frontier life. Also this book is written really smoothly, none of the usual hard to read problem that a lot of classics have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather has written a wonderful and inventive novel about the open prarier and the hardships immagrent families had to face. I recommend this book to any one who is interested in romance, adventure, and historical novels. An all around great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book for school. I am a sophmore and i am already hooked, even though i am only on chapter 5! If we werent going so slowly and filling out worksheets, i would have already finished this book. I am so excited to finish it and i highly suggest it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although O Pioneers! May induce thoughts of adventure and toils on the risky Nebraska wild lands, it has a fairly calm tone. The adventures, or should I say slow happenings over a twenty- five year span, are about as exciting as watching the grass grow, which is almost what this book is about. When you meet the main character and her family, she is fifteen, with three brothers a dying father and a mother who complains of the old country. Even though the ground never got to bumpy and the wagon only tipped over once or twice, this story wasn't that bad. I think you could have cut out a few chapters of watching the grass grow and still had that never-ending life on the farm effect. I wouldn't recommend O Pioneers! If your looking for a suspense filled thriller but if you are looking for a nice calm book about the trials of pioneering, this is it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather demonstrates that she is at ease with her writing and with her idealization of pioneer life in early America. The story peeks into the heart of a true farmer, one who has an innate love for the land. With simplicity of language and an intriguing development of events, the author cradles the reader into the realm of Alexandra's passionate mission, and allows the reader to taste of the bitterness of the stubborn land as well as bask in the glory of the taming of the land. This is where 'John Steinbeck meets Laura Ingalls Wilder,' and the journey is filled with breathtaking prairies, suspenseful moments of tension, and the joy of life, itself! This is Willa Cather in her most natural voice, a voice filled with wisdom, trasparency, and the pain that develops from failure while forming the substance of character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should be required reading for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book. Willa Cather is an excellent author and knows how to hold one's interest. Vewy interesting to read and fairly easy. Really enjoyed it.
wingsofjoy More than 1 year ago
While this book was not exciting, nor did it particularly have anything to keep me vitally interested, it was a good look at the lives of some of America's pioneers, exploring not only their lives and circumstances, but many of their feelings. It affirmed that people in that time were very much like us in desires and needs; but often their opportunities to meet those needs and desires was greatly diminished. Many good insights into a life past, and plenty to make me very grateful for the "easy" life I have.
TXYellowrose More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book.
MissBonnieNC More than 1 year ago
Such beautiful descriptive words (and that's saying something for the Nebraska prairie). As with her other books, she first paints a picture of the landscape and you don't realize that the story has also been hued into the painting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a feeling the one person who described the story as horrible most likely has never read anything but a comic book....and probably just looked at the pictures. I actually feel sorry for him or her. Must be so sad and miserable...
cfk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cather is a wonderful writer, painting a hard-edged world in beautiful strokes. I didn't enjoy this one as much as others by her because I don't handle depressing stories especially well.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Nebraska at the beginning of the 20th century. The Bergsons, a family of Swedish immigrants, struggle to succeed with their farm. When their father dies, the eldest daughter Alexandra inherits the farm. She cares for her younger brothers and makes the hard decisions, which bring them success. Years later, Alexandra's relationship with her childhood friend, Carl Linstrum, causes tension between her and her brothers. Her youngest brother, Emil, falls in love with the married bohemian, Marie Shabata. The plot seems simple enough, but it was so much more than that. Alexandra is a strong woman who isn't afraid of trying new things, even though her brothers are. She follows her heart and embraces outcasts when others turn their backs. Cather's descriptions of the land just drip with love for it. You can't read this without understanding her passion for it and her respect for the pioneers themselves. I was completely swept away by the simplicity of the tale. I loved the character and the way it was written and will definitely be reading more of her work.
cdeuker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some of the most beautiful nature writing I've ever come across. She can make you feel the land. Story is also interesting, but the ending is a bit offensive to modern sensibilities. How exactly does Marie "deserve" to be killed by her loutish husband. Why would Alexandra feel sympathy for the man who killed . . . killed! . . . her brother. Has me scratching my head.
brenzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather¿s poetic novel, O Pioneers! tells two love stories that take place on the Nebraska tableland in the late 1800¿s. Feisty, intelligent, independent, bigger-than-life Alexandra Bergson embodies the true frontier woman who could do it all. When her father dies, he leaves the farm for her to run rather than her two older brothers. John Bergson knows that his daughter¿s management skills will make the farm successful. When she buys up the properties of other families, who give up on the plains and return to steady jobs in the city, she assures both the future of her family¿s interests and the wrath of her brothers. But something is missing in Alexandra¿s life that the land cannot fulfill. Her love interest is childhood friend, Carl Linstrum, who has chosen to leave the Nebraska homeland of his Swedish ancestors to look for something that¿s missing in his life, only to find that he won¿t fulfill his dreams in the city either:¿Here you are an individual, you have a background of your own, you would be missed. But off there in the cities there are thousands of rolling stones like me. We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him. Our landlady and the delicatessen man are our mourners, and we leave nothing behind us but a frock coat and a fiddle, or an easel, or a typewriter, or whatever tool we got our living by. All we have ever managed to do is pay our rent, the exorbitant rent that one has to pay for a few square feet of space near the heart of things. We have no house, no place, no people of our own. We live in the streets, the parks, in the theatres. We sit in restaurants and concert halls and look about at the hundreds of our own kind and shudder.¿ (Page 123)Alexandra¿s younger brother Emil holds all her dreams. She sees to it that he gets a college education and has great hopes for his future. But his wandering spirit belies his illicit love that leads to the startling climax.Cather leaves no doubt that this is a novel about the great pioneer spirit that built our country and the lure and love of the land that was so inherent in those early settlers. But she also makes it clear that the land is bigger than any individual and, try as they might, they will never control it. Most of the characters in the story are unhappy with their marriages and their lives in general. In the hands of a less skillful writer, this would have come across as heavy-handed but Cather is a genius who helps us to see that these pioneering spirits were just human, just like you and me, and the relentlessly grim conditions of their lives left little else for them.Short, sweet, poetic and powerful and highly recommended
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
O Pioneers! is a love story with a twist. While Alexandra Bergson has great affection for her household and neighbors, the love of her life is the Nebraska prairie farmland settled by her Swedish immigrant family. Alexandra's spirit is as expansive as the land, while her two oldest brothers are small-minded and unimaginative. Alexandra finds kindred spirits in her youngest brother, Emil, her neighbor, Carl Linstrum, and her neighbor, Bohemian Marie Shabata. Cather's writing has a timelessness that conveys the enthusiasm of youth, and both the hope and risk of homesteading. I listened to this one on audio, and I thought it enhanced my experience of the book. The reader's precise, unrushed delivery perfectly matched Alexandra's personality. Highly recommended.
LukeS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather gives us a memorable set of archetypal characters who revolve around Mother Earth, Alexandra Bergson. Much of what happens tastes fairly bitterly of fate, and the characters are pushed into situations which force them to act at cross-purposes with happiness.What lasts is the hard-won triumph of the titular characters, the visionary and inexhaustible Alexandra most of all.
ARICANA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was Willa Cather´s first great novel, and to many it remains her unchallenged masterpiece. No other work of fiction so faithfully conveys both the sharp physical realities and the mythic sweep of the transformation of the american frontier and the transformation of the people who settled it. Cather´s heroin is Alexandra Bergson, who arrives on the windblasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, as a girl and grows up to make it a prosperous farm. But this archetypal success story is darkened by loss, and Alexandra´s devotion to the land may come at the cost of love itself.
melopher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novella was my introduction to Willa Cather, and I found it to be so much more than I thought it would be. The language was simple yet powerful, the descriptions were poetic yet clear, the theme strong and touching. The story itself was not one that I thought to find in a book written 100 years ago, and so surprised me. As far as pace goes, I was not bothered at all by the time jump that seemed to irritate many people.I really loved how beautifully, painfully, precisely Willa Cather showed how the prairie changed from it's pioneer days to it's more modern days. I don't know if I've ever before read a coming-of-age story regarding land instead of a person, but that is just what this seemed to be. The theme was so achingly apparent to me that this has become my favorite of Willa Cather's so far.
cestovatela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
During Cather's time, the story of a woman who succeeded on her own was probably an original one. These days, a determined woman who can run her own farm is a story you've read before. This is a work of literature that doesn't really stand the test of time.
Kace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The thing with Willa Cather is...shes a celebrated Nebraska writer, and she was alright, a bit too dark for my taste, and I much preferred Bess Streeter Aldrich stories, another Nebraska author, though granted a transplanted one. Overall, I guess I preferred the rosier outlook of Aldrich than Cather, a personal choice I know. I just think there's this hype about Cather due in part to her "edgier, darker undertones, and her willingness to go a little risque for the times." I quote myself in case your wondering. I think that people have equated that with brilliance, a brilliance I don't necessarily think was there. She was a good writer, I just don't think she lives up to the Nebraska hype.
lunacat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a delightful tale of life and death on the American frontier. The descriptions of the land were sublime and the people within this story were all well rounded and realistic, with both strengths and weaknesses within each. My main complaint is that there wasn't enough of it. I felt there was a 400 page book hidden in this 122 page novella. The characters seemed to have so much more to tell, and we only got a glimpse of that within this book.But maybe......just maybe, sometimes less is more.In one line: Short tale of life and death and the beauty of a wilderness.
jmchshannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather has a way with the English language. Stark, simplistic and yet utterly poetic in its descriptions. Just like the Nebraska farmland, on the surface O Pioneers appears sparse and flat. However, just like Alexandra, the reader so determines that there is an unspoken depth and beauty to the story that requires care and thought. O Pioneers is not just about living on a Nebraska farm. Rather, it is about pushing the envelope, about living life the way you want to live it without worrying about social decorum, about love. Life may be harsh, and there is plenty to remind the reader of that fact with death, loneliness, and unhappiness around every corner. Still, in Alexandra, Ms. Cather created a heroine that not only challenged women's rights, but she also broke ground on the idea of the necessity of finding love to be happy. While flawed, with her inability to relate to human emotions, she champions the idea of equality - in life and in love. By successfully growing her father's farm, she proves that women are just as capable of managing the land as a man. By not getting married, she epitomizes the idea that a woman does not have to be a wife to be happy. Through other examples, Ms. Cather shows that only equality matters in a marriage or else the marriage will be an unhappy one. It is is a lesson that carries over into other aspects of life.O Pioneers is not a long novel, and the simple nature of the words means that most people can breeze through the novel in a relatively short period of time. It presents a fascinating picture of life in the great plains at the turn of the century, and one can get a clear image of the hardships endured to scrabble a life from the soil. However, a reader should take his or her time reading to pick up on the subtle lessons Ms. Cather presents through Alexandra, Carl, Frank, Emil and Marie because they are more important than any description of farm living. If you love classics and have not yet added Willa Cather to your repertoire, I highly recommend checking out O Pioneers for these lessons and historical picture.