This review essay explores the profound scholarly significance of the publication of The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, a nearly 700-page collection scrupulously edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout (Knopf, 2013). The volume contains 566 full-text transcriptions selected from the 3,000 Cather letters now known to exist and makes them accessible in print for the first time. Cather's will, executed in 1943, forbade not only publication of her letters but even direct quotation from them, so biographers and critics for decades engaged in a kind of shadowboxing as they sought to convey Cather's thoughts and feelings through the awkward constraint of paraphrase. Now that the testamentary restrictions have been lifted and this volume is available, scholars and fans can hear Cather's epistolary voice without traveling to archives. An extraordinary contribution to Cather studies, the Selected Letters offers much to anyone interested in twentieth-century American literature, women writers, or LGBT/queer studies.

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