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Stoner (1965)

by John Williams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,6413491,401 (4.27)1 / 355
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

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.

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 Missouri Readers: November 2012: Stoner17 unread / 17Donna828, November 2012

» See also 355 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
Golly, what a great book. It's an intimate, and both quite painful and joyful at times, insight into the heart and mind of William Stoner, a man from a poor farming family who becomes an English professor. Not much happens - unless you count a troubled marriage, an intense love affair with a student, and academic rivalries and friendships. But the writing is clear and clean and warm and vital - just the right balances of dialogue and description, of plot and reflection, of bitter and sweet. As the introduction rightly explains: 'If the novel can be said to have one central idea, it is surely that of love, the many forms love takes and all the forces that oppose it.' ( )
  breathslow | Jan 27, 2024 |
Wow! This is one of those quiet, sincere books that tell nothing and everything about the human condition. I will write at length about it after I've given more thought to it. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
A deeply thoughtful, beautifully written, very sad novel. It should be better known. ( )
  fmclellan | Jan 23, 2024 |
A heartbreaking story of a small life lived in quiet desperation , inflicted mostly by Stoner's naivety and the revenge of a small-minded university colleague. However, this literary gem raises Stoner out of the victim role and into a 'hero'.

Two wars are fought; two characters have physical deformities ... broken men in a broken world. But instead of the brokenness destroying his life, it reflects Stoner's inner goodness like a kaleidoscope.

(If it becomes a film, Jeremy Irons has to be Stoner.) ( )
  jemisonreads | Jan 22, 2024 |
This book is beautifully written but it's much too sad for my taste in reading these days. ( )
  ellink | Jan 22, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
Part of “Stoner” ’s greatness is that it sees life whole and as it is, without delusion yet without despair. Stoner realizes at the last that he found what he sought at the university not in books but in his love and study of them, not in some obscure scholarly Grail but in its pursuit. His life has not been squandered in mediocrity and obscurity; his undistinguished career has not been mulish labor but an act of devotion. He has been a priest of literature, and given himself as fully as he could to the thing he loved. The book’s conclusion, such as it is—I don’t know whether to call it a consolation or a warning—is that there is nothing better in this life. The line, “It hardly mattered to him that the book was forgotten and served no use; and the question of its worth at any time seemed almost trivial,” is like the novel’s own epitaph. Its last image is of the book falling from lifeless fingers into silence.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew Yorker, Tim Kreider (Oct 20, 2013)
 

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Williams, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krol, EdzardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGahern, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robben, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodell, MarieContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
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.
First words
William Stoner entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in the year 1910, at the age of nineteen.
Quotations
He had dreamed of a kind of integrity, of a kind of purity that was entire; he had found compromise and the assaulting diversion of triviality. He had conceived wisdom, and at the end of the long years he had found ignorance.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

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.

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NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590171993, 1590173937

 

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