William Stoner is born at the end of the 19th 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, far 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.
©1965 John Williams (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“A perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, it takes your breath away." (Morris Dickstein, New York Times Book Review )
“A masterly portrait of a truly virtuous and dedicated man.” (New Yorker)
“An exquisite study, bleak as Hopper, of a hopelessly honest academic at a meretricious Midwestern university. I had not known…that the kind of unsparing portrait of failed marriage shown in Stoner existed before John Cheever.” (Los Angeles Times)
I found this book to be interesting to a degree, and I cared enough about William Stoner to want to finish it. Imagine a boring, depressing life. Then ask a friend to help you make it more boring and depressing. That's Stoner's life.
Unafraid to read from any genre.
Here's a scary story for you. Not one with fictional creatures or supernatural occurrences, but instead, a novel that details all the quiet miseries and disappointments we work-a-day stiffs endure throughout the course of a lifetime. It is not an escape, but a story that forces you to confront the choices you have made in your own life. The writing is done with great care and intelligence, so that the reader gets the sense that WIlliams truly knows this academic world and its inhabitants.
Stoner is so unsettling in its description of family and work life that I think we could cure the earth's overpopulation problem if this book became mandatory reading in the eighth grade.
I found it moving and some beautiful writing, but so bleak, so frustrating that he was unable to be more assertive and express his needs, and he was such a withered character in himself – depicted powerfully by the writer. However my sympathy was engaged with him and the other unfulfilled characters – his bitter wife, his destroyed daughter, the envious, revengeful and bitter academic rivals, and his briefly involved parents - like scarecrows in themselves.
It must have been very difficult for john Williams to write such a depressing book. Robin Field did an excellent job reading. Would look for him again.
A Sad story of a lonely man.I guess the book was just not my cup of Tea.Even though the book was well written I justI wanted to take Stoner out for Ice Cream. I thought that might Cheer him up.
Born in a time and place when so much of the emotional life lies below any clear awareness and understanding, life empels Stoner into the tragic circumstances he accepts so stoically. He becomes a jewel caught in amber I grew to care for and even love.
This book, believe it or not, is NOT about smoking weed. No, it's about a kid who grows up on the farm and basically has no character, personality or goals in life. His family saves money and sends him to college to learn agriculture so that he can become a repeat of what his father has done his entire life.
This story is not exciting by modern standards. It lacks vampires, soap-making and terrorism. However, the author has that special ability to paint very vivid pictures with very few words. It is the author's talent that makes me care about some random dude in a university during and after the first world war. I had never heard of this writer and by chance discovered him. He is quite talented. I thought I would hate this book based on the content, but the delivery and the crispness of each human subject that is introduced has that sort of magic that few books have.
This is what you call literature- where though it is fictional, it is somehow truer than real life.
Worth the read although depressing in sections. Beautiful writing and haunting images. Stick with it to the end and you'll be rewarded.
"A thoroughly unenjoyable listen"
This is my second John Williams novel. The first was good, but I won't try another
The performance was rasping and pedantic, like someone reading from the bible and making an effort to be as dull as possible.
I could not listen to the end. I don't mind that the story is sad and depressing. I do mind that Stoner's behaviour is not only exasperating but unconvincing.
"An Unexpected Classic"
This is a dry, quiet, stoical description of a complete life beginning in the 1890s and ending in the late 1950s. At the beginning, it seemed too dry, and I wondered whether I should continue. But, gradually, as the life of this quiet, socially-inhibited academic moves forward, it slowly exerted a grip, and I started to get eager to get back to it. It becomes a story about life itself. Happiness is ephemeral and Stoner often finds himself wondering what life should mean. A failed marriage, a beloved daughter who becomes distant, a touching but doomed love affair, and an academic career crowned by the writing of one solid but soon forgotten study of medieval English. It has moments of intense sadness and stoicism and the constant physicality of our ageing is a constant backcloth. Stoner reflects at the end, "If I had been stronger; if I had known more; if I could have understood". Unfortunately, none of us have a script before we start. We have to work it out as we go along. This novel is psychologically astute and captures the essence of what it means to be alive.I loved it. It was one of the best books I have come across. As I listened, I felt an excitement to be discovering a classic, where simple prose, has extraordinary, sometimes breathtaking, depth and power. Superb.
"A beautifully written book, beautifully read."
I may well. The gentleness of the story tells persuades me that there is much I will gain from a re-read.
Firstly, the start, describing him home life on the farm and later when he discovered what true love was.
Try it - it is different and better.
"Dull and overrated."
There is no real plot and frankly one never really cares about the central character. A story does not have to be a bodice ripper or a ripping yarn but it does have to have a point and I didn't feel I got much out of the story or the characters.
"A Work of Art"
it's a beautiful slow melancholy tale of a normal persons life
he's not a charismatic reader but suits the book well
recommended to me by a stranger in a bookshop as the best book she had read thanks for the tip.
A move eventful story, nothing much happened.
No, I found the narration tiresome though fitting to the story.
A perfect book. Just an ordinary life - but beautifully told and beautifully read.
"Indeed a lost classic!"
This was a wonderful, sad, truthful, engaging story of an ordinary man living out his time on earth in the best way he could manage. I've both read the book and listened to the audible version. The story and the characters engaged me thoroughly; however, I was entranced by the story despite the narrators best efforts. Field's rather exhausted voice almost pushed me away from listening. It was well worth my time to listen to this book, although I am glad I began by reading the book as I'm not sure if I'd listened from the start I would have been as engaged by the story.
I liked the quiet truth, the spare but poetic style of writing, the haunting, sad but almost heroic quality of this ordinary academic, caught in the trap of his own life. It was a thrill to uncover a novel and author that I had been previously unaware of.
Unfortunately, I am not a fan of this narrator's interpretation of the book. I felt he read in a flat-footed, exhausted and almost resigned manner. Perhaps the narrator chose to read the story in that way to reflect the oppressive quality of Stoner's life; however, I felt the story merited a voice with a bit more magic. The story rose above the narration in this case.
No follow-up book would be appropriate, given the book's ending. The book as it stands is complete and so well-formed. The ending is quite remarkable as a frank, honest description of the last moments of a man's life. The author begins the book by describing Stoner as a man of no particular merit and thoroughly forgettable. Howver, as the story progresses and as I got to know him more fully, I began to appreciate and see the depth in this most ordinary man.
This story was a quiet revelation. It's sad and tragic tale, but there is a benevolence in the way the author brings to life this ordinary man. I urge anyone looking for a reflective, rather emotionally tough book to listen!
Listening to the story unfold over the lifetime of Stoner. I spent a week just living in this story.
Being aware of Stoner's self discoveries about his life and his understanding of others' lives. The way he thinks.
I enjoyed the literary references which I'll now check out.
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