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A Death in the Desert

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Language  English
Publication date  1903
Author  Willa Cather
Publication type  Magazine
Published in  Scribner's Magazine
Originally published  January 1903
Country  United States of America
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Similar  Willa Cather books, Classical Studies books

"A Death in the Desert" is a short story by Willa Cather. It was first published in The Scribner's in January 1903.


Plot summary

Everett is on a train from Holdrege, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is a man that looks like his older prodigy brother Adriance--this similarity haunts him throughout the entire novel and robs him of his own personality. He will always be Adriance's brother.


  • Everett Hilgarde
  • Charley Gaylord
  • Two girls on the train.
  • Adriance Hilgarde
  • Katharine Gaylord
  • Maggie Gaylord
  • The Parson
  • Diana, a chaste actress in New York City.
  • Allusions to other works

  • Katharine Gaylord mentions Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold, Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Heinrich Heine's Florentine Nights.
  • Moreover, Gussie Davis's song In The Baggage Coach Ahead is mentioned - albeit 'in' is elided.

    Literary significance and criticism

    It has been argued that the title of the story was influenced by Willa Cather's reading of Robert Browning.

    Allusions to Alexandre Dumas, fils' La dame aux camelias and Lucretius's De rerum natura have also been found.


    A Death in the Desert Wikipedia

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