Death Comes for the Archbishop (Virago Modern Classics)

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9780860681830: Death Comes for the Archbishop (Virago Modern Classics)

In 1851 Bishop Latour and his colleague Father Vaillant are dispatched to New Mexico to revitalise its slumbering Catholicism. In this harsh, beautiful and alien land, they strive to blend their own refined French culture and subtle beliefs with the earthy sensuality and vivid traditions of their flock. Moving towards the endless prairies they leave converts and enemies, crosses and occasionally ecstacy in their wake but it takes a death for them to make their mark on the landscpe forever. In this seductive and thoughtful novel, based on the life of a real priest, Cather celebrates both human and religious values and salutes the nobility of an ancient culture.

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From the Back Cover:

Death Comes for the Archbishop sprang from Willa Cather's love for the land and cultures of the American Southwest. Published in 1927 to both praise and perplexity, it has since claimed for itself a major place in twentieth-century literature. The narrative follows Bishop Jean Latour and Father Joseph Vaillant, friends since their childhood in France, as they organize the new Roman Catholic diocese of Santa Fe subsequent to the Mexican War. While seeking to revive the church and build a cathedral in the desert, the clerics, like their historical prototypes, Bishop Jean Laury and Father Joseph Machebeuf, face religious corruption, natural adversity, and the loneliness of living in a strange and unforgiving land. The historical essay traces the artistic and spiritual development that led to its writing. The broad-ranging explanatory notes illuminate the elements of French, Mexican, Hispanic, and Native American cultures that meet in the course of the narrative, they also explain the part played by the land and its people - their history, religion, art, and languages.

From the Inside Flap:

Introduction by A. S. Byatt

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Cather, Willa
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