Willa Cather

Death Comes for the Archbishop

This was the first time I read Cather and it was a very distinctive and exceptional experience.

It was as if I had known this book all my life. As if I had befriended it a long, long time ago and read it many times since thus making it a trustworthy life companion, a friend one knows as well as one’s own self can be known. I am sorry I cannot explain it better – unfortunately, I was never much of a writer.

I enjoyed its quietness, its soothing style, and gentle flow. The writing is beautiful. Poetic and elegant. It breathes. The atmosphere is melancholic. She’s painting when she’s describing the landscape. And the way she brought the two main characters to life is so subtle and… natural.

Although it tells about two priests coming to Santa Fe to establish a diocese, I got the feeling that this was not the real subject of the book. It also tells about Native Americans, their culture and tradition, their wars and the relocation; it makes a comparison between a white man’s way and an Indian’s but, again, neither this is what it’s really about. Somehow, all these lines of the narrative seemed like side stories. Throughout the reading, I constantly felt the strong but unintrusive presence of something grand, something running deep underneath it all.

It is as if The Death.. was about nothing in particular but actually about  e v e r y t h i n g , about the very thing which makes everything possible – the life itself, in its simplicity and depth.. the living.



Some time ago, (I have no idea when.. and, again, I wish I knew how I got to it in the first place) I noted Cather’s O Pioneers! on my reading list. Inspired by The Death.. I intend to get my hands on it as soon as it’s possible.


2 thoughts on “Death Comes for the Archbishop

  1. Ooo fantastic, yet another book i have never heard of but will inevitably be in your debt for telling me about…I like stories that have something of a less traveled story about them,

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