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"Hard Punishments": Fragments of a Lost Work

"Hard Punishments": Fragments of a Lost Work

Friday, December 16, 2011

At her death in 1947, Willa Cather was working on a story -- or perhaps a novel -- set in medieval Avignon titled "Hard Punishments." By all surviving accounts, the writing Cather had completed was destroyed upon her death, the only known exception being a short fragment owned by the University of Virginia.

Two new fragments of the story have recently surfaced, in the collection given to the University of Nebraska Foundation by Cather's nephew, Charles E. Cather, who died in March 2011. In our Fall 2011Willa Cather Newsletter & Review, we have published complete transcriptions of all three fragments designed to give readers a clear reading text, with missing characters added in brackets and Cather's own deletions omitted. Readers interested in full diplomatic transcriptions, retaining every feature which can reasonably be reproduced in print, can find them here:

"Hard Punishments" University of Virginia Library fragment (PDF)

"Hard Punishments" University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries fragments (PDF)

Members of the Willa Cather Foundation can go here to access the Fall 2011 Newsletter & Review, which also features an essay on the "Hard Punishments" fragments as well as manuscript images. We are proud and honored to have the permission of the Willa Cather Literary Trust to share these glimpses of Cather's last major creative work.