Book - 2003
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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).
Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, ©2003
ISBN: 9781590171998
Branch Call Number: F Williams
Characteristics: xiv, 278 pages ;,21 cm


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Jan 16, 2018

I've never found myself so strongly in disagreement with my Goodreads correspondents as I am with this book. Simply put, it infuriated me. I found nothing noble or admirable about William Stoner. He allows himself to be mesmerized by his fantasy about an empty-headed daughter of the bourgeoisie, marries her despite knowing virtually nothing about her, allows her to bully him mercilessly, abandons his beloved daughter to be victimized by his vicious wife, gets ambushed by a sneaky, dishonest student who destroys his career ... and so it goes.
I suppose in his own way, Stoner is a "nice guy". Yes, those are the fellows who finish last ... if they finish at all.
All that said, in deference to Williams' elegant prose and skillful character development, I will struggle through to the end. Not enjoying this one bit!

Apr 15, 2017

Great insights into the passion for teaching and learning

Apr 01, 2017

This is the story of a rather ordinary man William Stoner who lived a not particularly eventful life. The author somehow makes the novel quite interesting and enjoyable to read. I don't know how he did that.

Mar 24, 2017

This book really is the greatest American novel that you've never heard of. The quality of the nearly perfect writing puts most modern novels to shame. Stoner suffers and struggles through his entirely bleak life but ultimately finds a noble sense of purpose in his life's work.

Jul 12, 2016

Compelling story of an ordinary man.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Mar 12, 2016

I'll skip the summary since there is a nice one from the publisher on this page.

The novel has been categorized as an academic novel and early in the book I thought it didn’t matter what the professional setting was since there are similar politics in any profession. Later, though, I realized that William Stoner not only had to be cast as a teacher but his subject had to be English—Williams uses the book to make a statement on literature’s potential. While studying literature in college, Stoner"would feel that he was out of time, as he had felt that day in class when Archer Sloane had spoken to him [about the 73rd sonnet]. The past gathered out of the darkness where it stayed, and the dead raised themselves to live before him; and the past and the dead flowed into the present among the alive, so that he had for an intense instant a vision of denseness into which he was compacted and from which he could not escape, and had no wish to escape."

Those moments of otherness, standing outside of time, happen a few times in the book and, in addition to communing with those no longer living, provide a balm to Stoner. Just as Stoner explains to his students that there is poetry in grammar and other places we don’t expect, Williams shows there is poetry within moments of our life we don’t anticipate. These moments keep Stoner’s life from being tragic, even when the moment is something as simple as his daughter’s face absorbing the light in his study while he worked. With Stoner, John Williams makes good on equating the study of literature and language with investigating the mystery of the mind and heart.

Nov 29, 2015

I dislike using such worn out words and phrases as "inspirational" and "a testament to the endurance of the human spirit"- for these descriptions have been hijacked by the worst pap of inferior writing which dominates book clubs and bestseller lists- yet Stoner is both these things. It rings true in the heart of the reader with quiet, simple insistence. You should read it.

Aug 24, 2015

Beautiful. Elegantly written.

Aug 20, 2015

An American classic about the disintegration of an honest, ordinary and unassuming man.

Mar 04, 2015

Definitely the finest American novel I'd never heard of.

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