This morning I spotted a used copy of my Antonia in a used bookstore and picked it up for the daunting price of $0.25, having previously enjoyed Cather’s works in O Pioneers! and Death Comes For the Archbishop. Seeing it reminded me that I’d seen a news headline about the anniversary of the book’s publication, and I looked it up. Based on the description below, it sounds promising:
My Àntonia is an antidote for much that ails the exhausted West. How is it that with our enormous wealth and comfort we are still unhappy, witnessed by the rising drug and suicide problems? Àntonia is not a self-creator, a cosmopolitan, a world-traveler, and she is quite poor. She ages before her time, taking on a haggard look, missing some of her teeth. But she is happy. With Àntonia as a model we can see that loving the place you are is essential to happiness. The vice of acedia is not just that of “sloth” as defined by laziness or lethargy, but that of being unable, in the words of Peter Lawler, to be at home with one’s homelessness. It is a kind of restlessness that Tocqueville put at the heart of the American condition. Flannery O’Connor opined that it is better to be someplace rather than no place. Making the best of our locale, trying to improve it, truly loving it and the people who are our neighbors, makes for a more fulfilled, contented life than one of rootless ambition.