"Axes" traces the intimate relationship between the texts published by Willa Cather and William Faulkner between 1922 and 1962. When those texts are juxtaposed and examined carefully, the two writers seem intensely conscious of, and responsive to, each other's work. In fact, both at some point appear to have caricatured or parodied the other in print. Judging by the texts they left behind, they titillated, offended, exhilarated, and - especially - energized each other. Some readers may conclude that for forty years they helped create each other - the rival geniuses and axes of American fiction in the twentieth century. At the end of their lives, Cather planned a story to appear posthumously as advice to Faulkner about life and literary style; he planned his last novel to answer her in spirit and published it a month before his death. This groundbreaking study is provocative and sure to ignite the imaginations of literary critics and devoted readers of each author.
Merrill Maguire Skaggs is Baldwin Professor of the Humanities at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. She is the author of several books, including "Willa Cather's New York: New Essays on Cather" and the "City and After the World Broke in Two: The Later Novels of Willa Cather." She also publishes in the field of Southern and American literature and won the Edd Winfield Parks prize for her first book, "The Folk of Southern Fiction."