How Far We’ve Come

The following is the opening paragraph to a review of “The Selected Letters of Willa Cather” in what is typically cited as a preeminent ‘conservative’ publication, The Weekly Standard:

This volume includes 566 letters, less than one-fifth of those that have been preserved, but it seems clear that the ones chosen by the editors are representative. This is not a sanitized selection. A number reveal that Willa Cather (1873-1947) was not always able to transcend the prejudices of her time; in an 1897 letter, she praises her boss by telling him, “You’re a white man sure,” and complains in 1924 that black maids—“nice little darkies”—too often “get tired of working and ‘go South.’ ” She writes to her brother Roscoe in 1916 that her close friend Isabelle McClung “has married a very brilliant and perfectly poisonous Jew,” and, in 1922, she refers to John Galsworthy’s “new Jew play.”

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