If [the writer] achieves anything noble, anything enduring, it must be by giving himself absolutely to his material. And this gift of sympathy is his great gift; is the fine thing in him that alone can make his work fine.
Willa Cather (1873–1947), U.S. novelist. originally published in The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (1925); repr. In Willa Cather on Writing. The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, preface, University of Nebraska Press (1988).
Assessing the particular gift of her mentor Sarah Orne Jewett.