Discover an American masterpiece. This unassuming story about the life of a quiet English professor has earned the admiration of readers all over the globe.
William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.
John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.
This reprint of Williams's remarkable 1965 novel offers a window on early 20th century higher education in addition to its rich characterizations and seamless prose. Sent by his hard-scrabble farmer father to the University of Missouri to study agriculture, William Stoner is sidetracked by an obsessive love of literature and stimulated by a curmudgeonly old professor, Archer Sloane. Sloane helps Stoner avoid service in WWI, and Stoner eventually becomes an assistant professor. He then meets and marries a St. Louis beauty, Edith, who quickly subjugates her contemplative, passive husband. As decades pass, Stoner entrenches himself deep into the life of the mind, developing into a master teacher but never finding solace in the outside world. Stoner's single joy is Grace, their daughter, whom Edith appropriates as a weapon in her very personal war against Stoner's quest for inner peace. Williams (1922 1994) won the NBA for Augustus (1973), and NYRB will republish his western, Butch's Crossing next year. Williams's prose flows in a smooth, efficient current that demands contemplation.
A Poignant Tale of Life in Academia
A poignant tale of life in academia, specifically a fictionalized Univ of Missouri from 1910 - 1955, well told with an engaging central character, English Professor William Stoner.
My first book by Williams and a great story by an author who knows how to compose a good, old-fashioned human interest narrative. Stoner is a memorable character...EAF
This is a beautifully written and poignant novel. Lovely and bittersweet....