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Stoner Paperback – Jun 20 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (June 20 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590171993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590171998
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.6 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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. (July)
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Review

“The book begins boldly with a mention of Stoner’s death, and a nod to his profound averageness: ‘Few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses.’ By the end, though, Williams has made Stoner’s disappointing life into such a deep and honest portrait, so unsoftened and unromanticized, that it’s quietly breathtaking.” —The Boston Globe

“Williams’ descriptions of the experience of reading both elucidate and evince the pleasures of literary language; the ‘minute, strange, and unexpected combinations of letters and words’ in which Stoner finds joy are re-enacted in Williams’ own perfect fusion of words.” —n+1

"Stoner, by John Williams, is a slim novel, and not a particularly joyous one. But it is so quietly beautiful and moving, so precisely constructed, that you want to read it in one sitting and enjoy being in it, altered somehow, as if you have been allowed to wear an exquisitely tailored garment that you don’t want to take off." —The Globe and Mail

"It is a marvelous discovery for everyone who loves literature." — Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4

"One of the great forgotten novels of the past century. I have bought at least 50 copies of it in the past few years, using it as a gift for friends....The book is so beautifully paced and cadenced that it deserves the status of classic." —Colum McCann's Top 10 Novels, The Guardian

"Stoner is undeniably a great book, but I can also understand why it isn’t a sentimental favorite in its native land. You could almost describe it as an anti-Gatsby....Part of Stoner's  greatness is that it sees life whole and as it is, without delusion yet without despair....The novel embodies the very virtues it exalts, the same virtues that probably relegate it, like its titular hero, to its perpetual place in the shade. But the book, like professor William Stoner, isn’t out to win popularity contests. It endures, illumined from within."— Tim Krieder, The New Yorker

"It’s simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it’s one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across." — Tom Hanks, Time

"Stoner is written in the most plainspoken of styles….Its hero is an obscure academic who endures a series of personal and professional agonies. Yet the novel is utterly riveting, and for one simple reason: because the author, John Williams, treats his characters with such tender and ruthless honesty that we cannot help but love them." — Steve Almond, Tin House

 

"[T]he work deserves to be called a 'perfect novel' — there's not a misplaced word or a trace of contrivance." -Boldtype

 

"The best book I read in 2007 was Stoner by John Williams. It’s perhaps the best book I’ve read in years." -Stephen Elliott, The Believer

 

"John Williams's Stoner is something rarer than a great novel - it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away." -The New York Times Book Review

 

"Williams didn't write much compared with some novelists, but everything he did was exceedingly fine...it's a shame that he's not more often read today...But it's great that at least two of his novels [Stoner, Butcher's Crossing] have found their way back into print." -The Denver Post

 

“A masterly portrait of a truly virtuous and dedicated man” —The New Yorker

 

“Why isn’t this book famous…Very few novels in English, or literary productions of any kind, have come anywhere near its level for human wisdom or as a work of art.” —C.P. Snow

 

“Serious, beautiful and affecting, what makes Stoner so impressive is the contained intensity the author and character share.” —Irving Howe, New Republic

 

“A quiet but resonant achievement” —The Times Literary Supplement

 

"Perhaps the greatest example of minimalism I’ve ever read...Stoner is a story of great hope for the writer who cares about her work." -Stephen Elliott

 

Stoner by John Williams, contains what is no doubt my favorite literary romance of all time. William Stoner is well into his 40s, and mired in an unhappy marriage, when he meets Katherine, another shy professor of literature. The affair that ensues is described with a beauty so fierce that it takes my breath away each time I read it. The chapters devoted to this romance are both terribly sexy and profoundly wise.”—The Christian Science Monitor


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Leone on July 18 2003
Format: Paperback
I'd never heard of this author or this book until I read an essay about him in an old back issue of Ploughshares by the novelist Dan Wakefield. I was suspect, too, because I'm not one for academic novels, unless they're farcical, because the only thing there seems to be at stake in academic novels is tenure, which in my opinion, doesn't make for such great reading. Well, not so in Stoner. Stoner is a quiet look at a man's largely unheroic and drab life, "an adventureless tale" as Joyce wrote (and in many respects William Stoner, the protagonist, comes right out of Dubliners). The feat of this book is that Williams makes the diurnal and fairly dull activities of an academic utterly riveting. How does he do it? By not being precious or pretentious about it, which is how so many other writers would have handled the material. Instead, Williams believes in the integrity of his hero, for whom nothing is easily achieved, or for that matter, very attractive. Even Stoner's honeymoon is a fairly squalid affair, and somehow, as bad as the story gets -- and it doesn't get bad in a dramatic or gimmicky way, just bad in the sense that Stoner never really experiences any joy in his life -- we keep reading. The book is grim, yes, and yet it will leave you feeling oddly enthralled. Read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark on March 14 2004
Format: Paperback
In this remarkable, overlooked work, John Williams chooses as his central character an undistinguished English professor (Stoner), who lives a largely uneventful life teaching at a drab Midwestern university. Neither Stoner's wife, nor his colleagues, nor his students think much of him. Yet the degree to which Williams succeeds in bringing the reader to identify with -- and care for -- his most unlikely protagonist is nothing short of a triumph. The final pages, in particular, are sad, transcendent, and unforgettable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eager Reader on Jan. 9 2010
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was very well written, but unfortunately the dull personality and life of the main character failed to affect me. I enjoy at times reading a story that follows a more existential thread, if it evokes poignantly themes such as melancholy, incommunicability, estrangement, and sadness of the human condition, but like his family and colleagues, I didn't seem to care very much about William Stoner. I would have liked to feel for him, but ultimately his fate left me rather lukewarm.
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Format: Paperback
This book defies easy categorization. It's about the son of hardscrabble and proud farmers who goes to college just before WWI to learn modern farming techniques; instead he discovers he has a facility for book learning. He becomes a professor of literature but his life is an unhappy one: he marries a woman who turns out to be cold and unresponsive; he dotes on his daughter, but his wife alienates her and the daughter later becomes pregnant to get away, and becomes an alcoholic; he offends the college dean and his career is thwarted. His one chance at happiness is an affair that too is doomed. As grim as it is, the novel is oddly compelling; it's not kind to academic life. Stoner seems caught by his nature; the times; the place; a failure of will. He seems to have no real control of his destiny. Nor does his love of literature appear to give any direction to his life. His is a bleak, hard life. He's caught and can't - or won't -escape. "The unexamined life is not worth living."
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By Dinah Loney on Aug. 31 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Stoner is a book which outwardly deals with the small mundane daily events in the life of a university professor who seems never to have taken a stance or stood up for himself. His sadness should be palpable but is only commonplace. His career should be stimulating but is only mundane. Yet the narrative is gripping of the 'I can't put the book down' type. I can't wait for my book club to discuss it! A terrific read.
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By Etta Arbeiter-Jacobs on Nov. 27 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Stoner is a Job- like character-patient and enduring. A few good things happen to him but sadly they all end badly. By the end of the novel you realize that he felt he actually had a good life. Being an English professor gave him an identity, passion for his work and made the man he was. He lived in his own inner space with the emphasis placed on reading and study.
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By Ross MacLean on Oct. 20 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent account of a mans life that we can all relate to. What is important when all is said and done ..integrity and love.
This is a deeply profound novel. It has so much depth. Infinitely sad and beautiful in the clear way we can see the Human condition through William Stoner.
A book that can change lives.
Thank you.
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By Dorothyanne Brown TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 4 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beyond wonderful this classic needs to be read by everyone. It's not about "stoner"s in today's phraseology, so don't pick it up thinking its about drug culture. Do pick it up if you want many good hours with rich characters and a deep, fulfilling story.
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