Bishop Jean Latour and Father Joseph Vaillant are French priests who are sent to the American Southwest region to restructure New Mexico's Catholic diocese. They have been friends since their childhood in France and their mission includes the correction of backsliding priests and the restoration of the Catholic culture. Themes of Indian relations, slavery, heresy, insubordinate clerical conduct, and reclusiveness are presented for Latour's and Vaillant's examination. Latour is dignified and reflective while Vaillant is forthright and optimistic; together they're able to appreciate a simple life in the southwestern desert which has become an oasis of civilization. Latour's commitment to erect a cathedral in the wilderness is realized after nearly forty years of good works in these reverential surroundings. His devotion to his assignment and the wisdom he secures from his inner conflicts are the qualities that sustain him even while his youth drains away. Cather beautifully and powerfully portrays the harmony that results from steadfast purpose. Please Note: This book has been reformatted to be easy to read in true text, not scanned images that can sometimes be difficult to decipher. The Microsoft eBook has a contents page linked to the chapter headings for easy navigation. The Adobe eBook has bookmarks at chapter headings and is printable up to two full copies per year. Both versions are text searchable.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Introduction by A. S. Byatt
Willa Cather’s story of the missionary priest Father Jean Marie Latour and his work of faith in the wilderness of the Southwest is told with a spare but sensuous directness and profound artistry. When Latour arrives in 1851 in the territory of New Mexico, newly acquired by the United States, what he finds is a vast desert region of red hills and tortured arroyos that is American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. Over the next four decades, Latour works gently and tirelessly to spread his faith and to build a soaring cathedral out of the local golden rock—while contending with unforgiving terrain, derelict and sometimes rebellious priests, and his own loneliness.
DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP shares a limitless, craggy beauty with the New Mexico landscape of desert, mountain, and canyon in which its central action takes place, and its evocations of that landscape and those who are drawn to it suggest why Cather is acknowledged without question as the most poetically exact chronicler of the American frontier.
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