Youth and the Bright Medusa is a collection of short stories by Willa Cather, published in 1920. Several were published in an earlier collection, The Troll Garden.
At age 9 Cather moved with her family from Virginia to frontier Nebraska, where from age 10 she lived in the village of Red Cloud. There she grew up among the immigrants from Europe—Swedes, Bohemians, Russians, and Germans—who were breaking the land on the Great Plains.
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At the University of Nebraska she showed a marked talent for journalism and story writing, and on graduating in 1895 she obtained a position in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a family magazine. Later she worked as copy editor and music and drama editor of the Pittsburgh Leader. She turned to teaching in 1901 and in 1903 published her first book of verses, April Twilights. In 1905, after the publication of her first collection of short stories, The Troll Garden, she was appointed managing editor of McClure’s, the New York muckraking monthly. After building up its declining circulation, she left in 1912 to devote herself wholly to writing novels.
Cather’s first novel, Alexander’s Bridge (1912), was a factitious story of cosmopolitan life. Under the influence of Sarah Orne Jewett’s regionalism, however, she turned to her familiar Nebraska material. With O Pioneers! (1913) and My Ántonia (1918), which has frequently been adjudged her finest achievement, she found her characteristic themes—the spirit and courage of the frontier she had known in her youth. One of Ours (1922), which won the Pulitzer Prize, and A Lost Lady (1923) mourned the passing of the pioneer spirit.
In her earlier Song of the Lark (1915), as well as in the tales assembled in Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920), including the much-anthologized “Paul’s Case,” and Lucy Gayheart (1935), Cather reflected the other side of her experience—the struggle of a talent to emerge from the constricting life of the prairies and the stifling effects of small-town life.
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About the Author
Mark J. Madigan is a professor of English at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. He is the author of many articles on Willa Cather and the editor of three volumes by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
Frederick M. Link and Charles W. Mignon are both professors emeritus of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and textual editors of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition series.
Judith Boss is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Omaha and teaches computer applications in English. She has digitized several American literature texts for Project Gutenberg and other digital libraries and repositories.
Kari A. Ronning is a research associate professor of English, assistant editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition series, and codirector of the Willa Cather Journalism project at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
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
Youth and the Bright Medusa
Notes on Emendations
Table of Rejected Substantives
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