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Stoner (New York Review Books Classics) by…
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Stoner (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1965; edition 2006)

by John Williams, John McGahern (Introduction)

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1,8531353,730 (4.31)156
Member:andyg227
Title:Stoner (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:John Williams
Other authors:John McGahern (Introduction)
Info:NYRB Classics (2006), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****1/2
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Stoner by John Williams (1965)

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» See also 156 mentions

English (97)  Dutch (22)  Italian (7)  Spanish (4)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  All languages (136)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
  shawjonathan | Jul 22, 2014 |
It’s hard to adequately convey how powerful a novel Stoner is, perhaps because there is nothing unusual in Williams’s prose style, pacing, or the way he is using the bildungsroman conventions to focus on an erudite, bookish man’s familial, psychological, and collegiate conflicts.



I think that Williams is a master of flow: Stoner pulls you in, and you are immediately swept away—again, not because the prose or the narrative itself are particularly enthralling per se, but because Williams knows how to captivate and capture the reader’s attention and then drag him or her alongside Stoner throughout the book.



A must-read for those who adore reading, especially those who have been lucky enough to make reading their lives and livelihood. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
It’s hard to adequately convey how powerful a novel Stoner is, perhaps because there is nothing unusual in Williams’s prose style, pacing, or the way he is using the bildungsroman conventions to focus on an erudite, bookish man’s familial, psychological, and collegiate conflicts.



I think that Williams is a master of flow: Stoner pulls you in, and you are immediately swept away—again, not because the prose or the narrative itself are particularly enthralling per se, but because Williams knows how to captivate and capture the reader’s attention and then drag him or her alongside Stoner throughout the book.



A must-read for those who adore reading, especially those who have been lucky enough to make reading their lives and livelihood. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
Until recently, I usually begin a book with the same amount of enthusiasm with which I end it. Good books have inviting beginnings, which sustain me through to the end; to be overly simplistic about matters, bad ones can be bad in many different ways (see the first sentence of “Anna Karenina”) but I usually still trudge through due to my half-hearted attempt at self-discipline and genuine belief that To Quit A Book Is A Serious Thing, Indeed. Lately, I’ve been beginning books with one opinion and finishing them with another. “Stoner” was one of those.

It begins as a tight, crisp story, without lingering over any of the main character Stoner’s biographical details too much. Stoner comes from a poor family of farmers and after a few semesters of thinking he is going to get a degree in agriculture, soon finds that his true calling is literature. He pursues an M.A. and a Ph.D. which draws him further away from his family, gets married to a cold, distant debutante named Edith, and has an adorable daughter named – and this is important - Grace.

As the book and the marriage wear on, Edith becomes more and more inexplicably heartless, tormenting, and cruel, you feel like you’re reading “The Good Soldier” – something Dreiserian in its ability to induce pathos. One of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the novels – and it’s really one that should have been explained more carefully – is why a mild-mannered milquetoast like Stoner would have married a total bitch like Edith. Divorce wasn’t completely unheard of a century ago; they certainly didn’t run in social circles where they had to keep up appearances. So, what gives?

The one thing the story has going for it is Williams’ refusal to romanticize Stoner, his occupation in academia, or any other aspect of his life. This certainly isn’t an Ivory Tower university (not that those are always so cozy either) where he gets paid to spend hours idling over dusty books in the Rare Books Room; he has several undergraduate classes, teaches a graduate seminar about the influence of Latin literature in late antiquity, and is responsible for a spate of graduate students’ dissertations. In addition to this, he also researches and writes to be published (how little things change over the decades). Well, two things: that and Stoner’s implacable dedication to the profession of teaching.

Williams was once asked in an interview about Stoner’s life, and if he thought it was “sad.” He responded with an affirmative “no,” that Stoner had an absolutely wonderful life. This good life, full of wonder, can only be adjudged to be such against Stoner’s own standards of what it means to be a teacher and how closely he hewed to them. He was a passionate teacher, even though we’re told in the opening lines that “Stoner’s colleagues, who held him in no particular esteem when he was alive, speak of him rarely now; to the other ones, his name is a reminder of the end that awaits them all, and to the younger ones it is a sound which evokes no sense of the past and no identity with which they can associate themselves or their careers.”

Let’s be brutally honest here: when all is said and done, the will be said for 99.9% of us. That old Greek wish of being remembered generations and generations hence, which came to easily to Odysseus, just will not come to fruition for most of us. Does that make our lives any less full of wonder, or regret, or even the sublime? Stoner’s life, I think, serves as an answer: “no.” For it is in how we pursue what is most meaningful to us that marks the truest measure of ourselves. As someone more eloquent than myself said in her Goodreads review, “it is about how the inner life redeems the outer.” How simply, and how beautifully said. ( )
1 vote kant1066 | Jul 3, 2014 |
I listened to the audio version of this book and loved it! William Stoner teaches that we are all just vessels that get filled with the events of our lives. We get filled up with events both commonplace and unusual and these events form us. Stoner was stoic to the events that formed his life, depressing as that may seem to some of us. ( )
  deborahk | Jul 1, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Williamsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krol, EdzardTranslatorsecondary 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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NYRB Classics

Two editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590171993, 1590173937

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