Master of Arts in English (M.A.)
Type of Paper/Work
Dr. Alexis Easley, Dr. Catherine Craft-Fairchild, Dr. Kelli Larson
In a letter to a friend in 1891, Willa Cather mentions The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner and expresses a desire to discuss it—a fact that grows deeply meaningful when we recognize the affinities between Cather’s and Schreiner’s work.Surprisingly, however, scholars have not yet traced these affinities. In this essay, I begin to redress this absence,exploring how Schreiner’s African Farm (1883) and Cather’s My Ántonia (1918) both revise the traditional Bildungsroman. With their modernist techniques, their struggling male protagonists, and their enterprising female characters, these novels make space for indeterminacy, sensitivity, and female agency within this genre traditionally marked by a male hero’s linear development toward self-sufficiency. Indeed, Schreiner and Cather challenge the very viability of such a self-sufficiency by presenting the interdependence of men’s and women’s journeys, subtly suggesting that every Bildungsroman is, in reality, a double Bildungsroman.
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Charron, Amanda Elizabeth, ""The Back Thought in My Mind Is Always You": Olive Schreiner's and Willa Cather's Revisions of the Bildungsroman" (2020). English Master's Essays. 33.