two decades that span the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, takes a second-generation Scandinavian immigrant girl from her native desert town of Moonstone, Colorado, to the great operas of the Western World. In the tradition of the Bildungsromane and of their male heroes, Cather has her heroine, Thea Kronborg, go the hard way from Moonstone to Chicago, and from there on to the musical capitals of Germany, to come back to America, successful and accomplished as one of the world famous Wagnerian sopranos of the turn of the century. 1 In the Preface written in 1932 for a new printing of the novel, however, Cather finds fault with its title, borrowed from a painting by Jules Breton in the Chicago Art Institute that had much impressed her at the time of her first visit to Chicago during her student years at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The peaceful landscapes painted by Millet, Breton, Théodore Rousseau, and the other members of the Barbizon School reminded her of her own Nebraska prairie environment; their sturdy peasant girls an
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