less than 1 minute read

Death Comes for the Archbishop

The Professor's House

a novel by Willa Cather, published in 1927. The novel is Cather's fictional tribute to the beauties and strengths of European Catholicism. (She never actually became a Catholic, as was popularly believed, but found in the Church an acceptable imaginative alternative to what she saw as the greedy, crass society of post-First World War America.) The novel takes two distinguished French servants of the Church, Bishop Jean Latour and his vicar Father Joseph Vaillant, who together carry out missionary work in New Mexico and organize the diocese there. Comrades in youth, they maintain their friendship throughout their life in America, complementing one another in their work and in their characters. Latour is intellectual, sensitive, and fundamentally solitary; Vaillant practical and warm-hearted. The novel ends with Latour's death, which takes place shortly after Vaillant's his body lies in state in the cathedral at Santa Fe, his one great creation. The book reflects the author's feeling for New Mexico—cf. The Professor's House (1925)—and the influence of certain painters, such as Puvis de Chavannes, on her style.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Cwmfelinfach (Cŏomvĕlĭnvahχ) Monmouthshire to Walter de la Mare Biography