Friday, September 27, 2013

Getting her due …

The American Spectator : The Heart of the Heartland. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

WILLA CATHER’S TASTES in literature, music, food, travel were all impressively refined. She favored Balzac, Tolstoy, and Henry James, and claimed the last two as influences on her own writing. She preferred French over English novelists, because they dispensed with congeniality and their range of interests was much wider. Her love of music ran strong, and she later befriended the Menuhin family, whose son Yehudi was the great violin prodigy of his day. Food was important to her, in and for itself and for what it conveyed about civilized culture. In a scene in Death Comes for the Archbishop, the novel’s main character, Bishop Latour, is served an onion soup by his assistant Father Vaillant, about which the bishop remarks: “I am not deprecating your individual talent, Joseph, but, when one thinks of it, a soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.” 

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