A passage from Willa Cather's unfinished and purportedly destroyed novel "Hard Punishments" was among a new collection of writings and mementos unveiled Thursday at the world's largest archive devoted to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
Andrew Jewell, editor of the archive at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said when Cather died in 1947 the novel was not finished, and scholars believed the incomplete manuscript had been destroyed. An extensive collection left to the university by the author's nephew, Charles Cather, proves otherwise.
"For some reason, the story goes that she burned everything or (her partner) Edith Lewis burned everything," Jewell said. "That simply was not true."
Jewell described the passage, in Cather's hard-to-discern handwriting, as a conversation between a boy named Andre who had his tongue ripped out for the crime of blasphemy and a young, blind priest who gives the boy absolution. The scene takes place in medieval times in Avignon, France. At one point, the priest tells the boy to stop trying to talk or else he'll start to bleed again.