My Ántonia’s Illustrations

As our edition of My Ántonia leaves out the illustrations Cather commissioned from W. T. Benda for the novel,  I thought I’d show them here.

Cather considered these illustrations as much a part of the novel as her written words. Through all her time at Houghton Mifflin she was adamant that they always be included in any new edition. And when Houghton Mifflin published an edition without Benda’s plates in 1930, Cather considered it unauthorized. In 1937, she convinced her editor not to publish a “deluxe” edition with color plates by Grant Wood.

W.T. Benda was a commercial artist she probably knew from her time working at McClure’s Magazine in New York.

Along with the illustrations, take a look at this article by Jean Schwind, who convinces me that Benda’s plates provide an alternate take on Jim Burden’s Ántonia:  The Benda Illustrations to My Antonia (.pdf)

Plate 1 Shlmerda family on train platformPlate 2 Mr ShimerdaPlate 3 Woman gathering mushroomsPlate 4 Bringing home the Christmas treePlate 5 Antonia plowingPlate 6 Jim and Antonia setting sunPlate 7 LenaPlate 8 Antonia in winter

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