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Stoner by John Williams
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Stoner (original 1965; edition 1965)

by John Williams, Edzard Krol

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,7081772,180 (4.28)1 / 242
Member:JustJoey4
Title:Stoner
Authors:John Williams
Other authors:Edzard Krol
Info:Amsterdam Lebowski 2012
Collections:Your library, 2012, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:American fiction, English, US, midwest, integrity, 1965, historical fiction, based on true facts, fiction, biography, read in 2012, HLNF

Work details

Stoner by John Williams (1965)

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English (130)  Dutch (24)  Italian (9)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (178)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
you have to hang in for a while

I read this on the basis of a strong review in the New Yorker. But it was slow going at first. I wanted to set it aside many times, and I skimmed a few paragraphs.

It picked up at almost the half way mark and I enjoyed the rest of it a lot. In fact, there's a bit of profundity about it and it brought me to tears. It's a brutally honest accounting of a life; that's what I found engrossing and what brought me home. ( )
  mickeyhadick | Feb 4, 2016 |
I thought this book was slow and didn't know where it was going. It portrays the routine life of a scholar, thwarted in his duty as a husband and as a father, and facing difficulty in his work as a tutor. Stoner is no hero figure, though he is long-suffering. A recurring theme in his life is the hardship faced and disappointment inflicted, for example by his spiteful wife, Edith. Initially she was repressed, not wanting married life or motherhood, but after the "epiphany" of her father's death, she sets out to destroy her husband's pleasure. Is she a man hater? It is a depressing story. For a long time, it seemed as though the book was going to wear him down to some horrible demise. I didn't buy the way Edith was able to transform Grace's opinion of her father.
It was not until chapter 12 that the story blew up and became something quite different. The grey and stolid man became a colourful figure through the medium of an affair with a student.
Referring presumably to this relationship, the author writes: "in his 43rd year William Stoner learned what others much younger had learned before him: that a person one loves at first is not always the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another".
It seems to me that the whole book has been written for this one maxim, speaking of the course of any relationship whether within marriage or without.
If William was the weak older man, going through a midlife crisis, then Catherine was the well clued young woman, who knew what she wanted, got what she wanted and was able to put it away in a box before moving on. Did she not put the wedding band in the fireplace to signify the end of their relationship? She would leave behind, in that place, the memory of their time together.
This cool and determined nature was further evidenced by the meticulous planning of her departure. Stoner told her it had to finish, but she had already had already arrived at that conclusion, for the sake of them both, but mostly for his sake.
From this point, all that seems to remain is a resumption of the slow decline of Stoner as he gets worn down by opponents in the University and perhaps by bitterness within himself. ( )
  NeilT | Jan 4, 2016 |
This was a very sad novel. Williams' genius is to take a very ordinary man and his very ordinary life and make it interesting. I suppose it is a reflection of the lives of most of us with our own romantic and career struggles that seem very small when we compare them to the great and the good. I found this to be a very readable book, but that said I was happy to get to the end. ( )
  oparaxenos | Nov 27, 2015 |
A thoughtful, melancholy book. Beatifully written with no wasted words. ( )
  jvgravy | Nov 19, 2015 |
This is the kind of book that you give five stars to and then regret that you've given five stars to so many other books over the years. It makes you want to move the rating scale entirely, invent an eleven so you can top your old ten.

Incredibly, incredibly good for reasons I expound on more elsewhere. Please read it ASAP.

( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Williams, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krol, EdzardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGahern, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robben, BernhardÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to my friends and former colleagues in the Department of English at the University of Missouri. They will recognize at once that it is a work of fiction--that no character portrayed in it is based upon any person, living or dead, and that no event has its counterpart in the reality we knew at the University of Missouri. They will also realize that I have taken certain liberties, both physical and historical, with the University of Missouri, so that in effect it, too, is a fictional place.
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William Stoner entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in the year 1910, at the age of nineteen.
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"Born the child of a poor farmer in Missouri, William Stoner is urged by his parents to study new agriculture techniques at the state university. Digging instead into the texts of Milton and Shakespeare, Stoner falls under the spell of the unexpected pleasures of English literature, and decides to make it his life. Stoner is the story of that life" -- publisher description (January 2007).… (more)

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Editions: 1590171993, 1590173937

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