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The Professor's House

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,481 Ratings  ·  391 Reviews
On the eve of his move to a new, more desirable residence, Professor Godfrey St. Peter finds himself in the shabby study of his former home. Surrounded by the comforting, familiar sights of his past, he surveys his life and the people he has loved—his wife Lillian, his daughters, and Tom Outland, his most outstanding student and once, his son-in-law to be. Enigmatic and co ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2006 by Virago UK (first published 1925)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 22, 2015 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Thomas from The Readers podcast
I've recently started listening to a few reading/book podcasts, now that I'm almost two years into my own. I've grown quite fond of The Readers and Books on the Nightstand, and the four hosts of the two shows have some interaction. They will all be at Booktopia this month, and each of them picked a favorite book to discuss that will hopefully also turn into a podcast episode for those of us not at the event. This was one of the books mentioned, selected by Thomas from The Readers. It's funny how ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Sue
I can't remember (and that's not saying much, as my memory's not what it used to be) the last time I dithered so long before writing a review. Perhaps it's because I ended up strongly identifying with the professor, who is the same age as I am. No, I don't have the issues with my spouse or my adult offspring that he does, but there are other things that can make one feel distant and drained (even temporarily) at such a time in life.

The title notwithstanding, this book could also be called "Outla
Willa Cather has moved into my group of favorite authors: those who create characters and worlds that are consistently intriguing, human, interesting--in the best sense of the word, and real. She also writes in a way that is both simple and beautiful. The Professor's House is my third of her books, after Death Comes for the Archbishop and, more recently, O Pioneers!.

In this novel, the titled Professor is actually conflicted, caught between two worlds, that of his old house with the study he has
Mar 21, 2015 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Willa Cather pops the big question : How do we
keep living when there's nothing to look forward to?

Midwest prof in his 50s has finished his book.
With 2 married daughters, a bizee wife and the
memory of a prized student killed in WW1, he
scalpels his soul.

"He knew that life is possible, may even be
pleasant, without joy, without passionate griefs.
But it had never occurred to him that he might have
to live like that."

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I would say that this is a very "clean" novel. The characters are respectful, their dialogues are polished, and there's not a hint of any major mischief in the plot. Professor Godfrey St. Peter is fifty-two. He has two married daughters and a wife (Lillian) of many years. He teaches and writes history books. His family is financially secure, one of his daughters is even rich, having been the beneficiary of his (St.Peter's) former student's posthumous wealth from a gas-related invention. this for ...more
Jun 25, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing
I actually read this before. I have a habit of re-reading books I like during the summer. Why? Who knows?

I read this for a grad class on Cather and it blew me away. Strangely intense little book. At first, it doesn't seem to be about much, but it's worth a close reading.

Her best known books (O Pioneers, My Antonia) aren't really her best. They are often taught at the high school level, and I think people often think of her as slight. But some of her books, like The Professor's House, pack a real
Feb 04, 2012 Roberta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
On the face of it, Professor Godfrey St. Peter has a good life. As Cather’s novel opens, he is married, with two grown daughters, Rosamund and Kathleen, who are also married. He has for many years taught at a small college in Ohio, where he is respected and esteemed. He has produced his magnum opus – a multi-volume work on the Spanish explorers of North America – which has won him a distinguished literary prize. With the money from that prize, St. Peter has built his wife Lillian a grand new hom ...more
This popular Cather novel has a slightly different feel than her other novels. Godfrey St. Peter, the professor, has a cynical outlook on his future, his relationship with his wife, his two married daughters and their husbands, and especially the new house they are moving into. St. Peter wants his old house, his old study, and his memories. Especially the memories of his old student and friend, Ton Outland. The middle section of the book about Outland's earlier life in the American west was perf ...more
♪ Kim
Feb 15, 2016 ♪ Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
The Professor’s House is essentially an exploration of change and regret. Godfrey St. Peter, is a professor at a small mid-western college. He has reached a transition point where he has completed his life’s work (a multi-volume history called "Spanish Adventurers in North America"), achieved a considerable amount of recognition and status in his field, and finally has the funds to build a new house for his wife. But as the time comes to move to the new house, St. Peter is more and more reluctan ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: pedantic university professors with disappointing careers and unhappy marriages
Well, this was very pleasant and all, but...have you ever heard of a bridge version of a book? Don't feel bad if you haven't; I just made it up. What it is is you know how there are abridged versions of books, where they include the important and exciting parts and chop out some of the meandering and tangential stuff? Have you ever wondered what happens to that stuff they chop out? Well, that ends up in a bridge version of the book, and that must be the version I read because nothing fucking hap ...more
Jul 27, 2015 Jan rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I bought this book intending to put it into the Postal Book Group 7a circulation in the coming year. I chose it because a podcaster I admire called it one of his favorite books of all time!

But, having read it, I think I won't be mailing it out. I finished last night with genuine admiration, but did not find it an easy book to engage with and struggled even to continue after the first few chapters.

I am a Willa Cather fan and loved "My Antonia," "O Pioneer," "One of our Own," and multiple short st
Carol Moffat
Apr 21, 2014 Carol Moffat rated it really liked it
Willa Cather is always one of my favorites. Her reverence for the land, the colors,the textures, the vistas and the minutiae,especially of the West always stuns me. The story of Tom Outland's discovery and exploration of one of the mesa dwellings in the Southwest was exquisite. I read that part twice and was smitten with a capturing luminescence.

That Tom Outland, coming from some obscure beginnings, eventually finds his way to The Professor, and becomes a pivotal character in The Professor's li
Oct 13, 2009 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I'm having a hard time deciding how to review The Professor's House. The plot itself is very straightforward and easy to describe. The characters are vivid and well-defined which adds to the realism of the novel. But it seems to me that the meat of this novel is in the themes and nuances.

I have read some of Cather's short stories many years ago and only have vague memories of them other than a memory that she had exquisite attention to detail. As I read this book I found that memory to be true.
This is my first Willa Cather book and I am not sure I will read another. The first chapter was boring, but the book picked up after that. Professor St. Peter is a successful professor and author. He seems to have a successful marriage with two married daughters. But St. Peter is not content or satisfied with what he has accomplished. He starts reviewing his life and finds he has lost an essential part of himself.

I found there were pieces of the story line that just disappeared without resolutio
Sep 25, 2015 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

My first Willa Cather....I may have lost my taste for classics, this seems like a relic to me. It will be interesting to hear from Thomas Otto why it is his favorite book. All the while reading I could picture myself in freshman English class with an assignment to write an essay about the symbolism of St Peter's inability to move house.

Anyway, I found it a bit of a slog but it was a short read and I'm glad I finally finished it.

Just to show that there is value in every book, this Booktopia selec
Aug 15, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Geoffery St. Peter (professor) moves into a new house, but keeps the old house as a study. A brilliant student, Tom Outland, invents a new engine that makes a lot of money. Tom dies in WWI, leaving his fortune to his fiance, Rosamond, one of the professor's daughters. Rosamond and her new husband become parvenus.

The book is half about primoral America - the Blue Mesa in New Mexico, swimming in delicious Lake Michigan and half about the transition from middle age to old age and wanting to sleep,
Oct 16, 2015 Mercurialgem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish it would have been just a little longer to tell us what happens when the family returns. Does he stay at the old house? Does something develop with Augusta? I do believe his wife loves him but I would have him eventually in a relationship with Augusta and going to live at Tom's Blue Mesa on Cliff City. Also, what happened to Tom's many other questions! I liked that the story was divided into three parts. I liked all the characters but Godfrey was my favorite. I would have ...more
Carol Douglas
May 20, 2016 Carol Douglas rated it it was amazing
I've just read The Professor's House for the first time, and to my surprise it seems to be Willa Cather's best. I had assumed that her wonderful Death Comes to the Archbishop was her best, but I was delighted by The Professor's House.
A friend described this book as Cather's psychological novel, and so it is. Professor St. Peter is in love with the life of the mind. As he ages, he discovers that is his main love, greater than his love for his family.
His wife and older daughter seem to be shal
Mind the Book
"He had never learned to live without delight." Föredrar att fokusera på ramberättelsen: campusroman-cum-medelålderskris. Originell och existentiell.
Mar 23, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed "The Professor's House," even though it's not something I would normally read. Cather has a beautiful style of writing and capturing emotions/ thoughts and moments that are difficult to put into words. I felt similarly about "My Antonia." Even though not much happens plot-wise in either of these novels and "The Professor's House" really centers on events that happened in the past, it was a beautiful read because of the sense of emotion and nostalgia it manages to capture. My fav ...more
Mar 14, 2011 Callie rated it it was amazing
Read this in college, but this time it's for book club. I love Willa Cather! That said, I am a bit conflicted about this book. She had a plot line developing, revolving around some tensions between the two daughters of the professor, a potential lawsuit over the fortune amassed by Rosamund(or was it Rosalind?) And then she interrupts this developing plot to go into some background about Tom Outland, which I didn't mind but when she took up telling about life in Hamilton again she decided NOT to ...more
Apr 21, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little, simple piece of Americana that has as much beauty and depth as you might find in a sprawling russian novel. While Cather may have produced some of the greatest American historical fiction in 'My Antonia', 'O' Pioneers' and "Death Comes for the Archbishop', this little gem has a more timeless quality; has a pressing relevance in today's world.

We are introduced to a man who has become increasingly apathetic in his years; frustrated at the materialism he sees around him. He is an idealist
Christian Engler
Sep 20, 2013 Christian Engler rated it it was amazing
I came to the works of Willa Cather by way of my father, who was a deep admirer of her books, especially after he read The Song of the Lark. I knew that Cather wrote about the immigrant experience, but after having finished The Professor's House, I realized that her talent in capturing the nuances of the human experience was not solely limited to the immigrant life. It was just one slice of the pie that she happened to address. There is so much more to her books than I had judged, and admittedly ...more
Nov 11, 2015 Alexa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fab-15
This is a multi-layered exploration of a middle-aged man, in the midst of his house and his family, which I found amazingly rich. At first glance it is touchingly mundane, yet there is so much just barely glimpsed under the surface! Cather tells her tale with a sparse factual (newspaper reporter’s?) style that makes the realization of just how much isn’t being said even more surprising. This has some really interesting things to say about the way men and women live together, their attempts to su ...more
Mar 05, 2015 Simon rated it it was amazing
Re-read; first time in 2006. A stunning book, packed with so much and yet always lithe and elegant.
Susan from MD
Apr 07, 2014 Susan from MD rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 26, 2012 Lydia rated it liked it
I admired the writing in this novel but never warmed to the main character. The Professor is in the process of changing houses, when he stubbornly decides to hole up in his old office, and becomes an unlikeable curmudgeon. The Professor is obsessed with his annoying son-in-laws and squabbling daughters. He also blames his wife as they drift apart and laments the loss of his true soulmate and favorite student, Tom Outland.

Outland seems to have wandered in from a different book altogether. This b
The story starts when the Professor and his wife Lillian buy a new house, and the Professor does not want to move into his new residence. He continues to maintain a study in the old house where he is writing a history of the Spanish explorers. This part of the book tells about his relationships with the people in his family who seem to be very involved in acquiring material possessions.

The second part of the book is told in the voice of the brilliant Tom Outland, the Professor's favorite student
Jul 25, 2012 Bev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classic-lit
I enjoyed this story of a professor facing middle age who discovers that he has quite a disconnect with most of the people in his life. He thought he understood them all...his wife, his daughters, his friends and colleagues at the university--and even himself. But a period of solitary living in his old house makes him see that while he had what he calls a pleasant life, it wasn't what the "real" professor wanted and that he doesn't really want to reconnect (or ever live) with his family once the ...more
Mar 29, 2009 Judith rated it it was amazing
Like so many of my generation, i read Willa Cather's "My Antonia" when i was in 8th grade, around the age of the heroine of the story. I loved it, and through the years, I tried "Death Comes to the Archbishop" and "O Pioneers", and found them so boring that i couldn't get past the first few pages. Now in my late 50's i find "The Professor's House", the story of a professor in his 50's looking back on his career, his travels, and his family, and I love it as much as i loved "My Antonia". Included ...more
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Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virgina (Gore) in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing ...more
More about Willa Cather...

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“In great misfortunes, people want to be alone. They have a right to be. And the misfortunes that occur within one are the greatest. Surely the saddest thing in the world is falling out of love--if once one has ever fallen in.” 23 likes
“And that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own individual lives.” 12 likes
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