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The Professor's House

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,957 ratings  ·  338 reviews
A study in emotional dislocation and renewal--Professor Godfrey St. Peter, a man in his 50's, has achieved what would seem to be remarkable success. When called on to move to a more comfortable home, something in him rebels. ...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published October 24th 2008 by SMK Books (first published 1925)
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Jul 10, 2015 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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."

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
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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 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
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,
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
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
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
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
Re-read; first time in 2006. A stunning book, packed with so much and yet always lithe and elegant.
Susan from MD
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
Jul 30, 2015 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Thomas Otto
Shelves: 2015-books, classics
This is a story of a history professor who has spent his career teaching as well as writing a 7 volume history of the Spanish Adventurers in North America. Upon moving to a new house, he has become reflective and almost ornery, wondering how his youthful dreams have become his current life. It is a quiet novel, reflecting on his family, their lives together as well as his one prized student, the one who would go on to become more important than the teacher. This is probably a 3 1/2 star novel, b ...more
The clash of impending man-made modernity and the by-gone beauty of the natural American West create a narrative full of metaphor and imagery. This theme of dimishing natural wild is certainly current today. The book is characterized by its dichotomy - new "things" changing the way we live and the mysteries of an ancient Mesa and its early American inhabitants. Rich language create lush visuals - an interesting read from an iconic American author.
I loved this book. It shows how a man who is nearing retirement looks back on his life and wants to start life anew without his family and without all of the success and reputation that he has earned--in other words he faces a late stage rebellion. A sub-plot in the book introduces the reader to the pueblo dwellings of the early Indians in the Southwest. I gained a renewed appreciation for Willa Cather.
Suzzanne Kelley
I listened to this book going to and from work the past few days, glad to have construction along the way to slow me down so I could savor the rich wording and smooth segues. This is not a cheerful story, but I'm better for having heard it, and I'll be poking around in the paper version to sound out again some of those phrases that made me want to stop the car.
Some of my favourite thoughts from this book include:
"Wherever sun sunned, rain rained and snow snowed, wherever life sprouted and decayed, places were alike to him. He was not nearly as cultivated as... - and yet he was terribly wise"

"A man long accustomed to admire his wife in general, seldom pauses to admire her in a particular gown or attitude, unless his attention is directed to her by the appreciative gaze of another man"

"Theoretically he knew that life is possible, may be even pleasant, w
If I weren't a professor myself, I might have given the book four stars, but Cather's description of the space for research (both physical and emotional) carved out by the professor struck a chord with me. The relationships among the other characters are portrayed competently and often give food for thought. As an academic I also appreciated the tone of the debates within the university (where the liberal arts were even then being squeezed out in favor of trade-school courses), even as I marvele ...more
Devyn Duffy
Apr 05, 2015 Devyn Duffy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Another impressive work from America's most underrated and probably greatest novelist, Willa Cather. It's two stories in one. One story is that of Professor Godfrey St. Peter; he and his family have achieved success in varying degrees and must handle how it changes them. The other story is that of the professor's best student, Tom Outland, who lived in the West and discovered things not seen for centuries.

As always, Cather's characterization is strong and complex, and her descriptive ability is
I am not good at writing reviews on this site. Here I'm just going to think aloud a bit.

Want to review the characters and their positions. It's clear that the view of these characters is the one from the prof's mind. I think for the most part we are meant to take his views as accurate assessments though.

Rosamond: I think she is one of the most straightforward evolutions in the book. It seems pretty clear we are meant to be unhappy with her changes. She is becoming more and more concerned with ha
Willa Cather is a treasure. By now I have read quite a number of her books and I have loved every one of them. Some are more immediately captivating in story and plot than this one. Some have richer setting descriptions, although this one is quite fine in that respect. All have very rich characterizations. My favorite is still The Song of the Lark because I love both the central character and Cather's truly inspirational landscapes, and my next favorite is Shadows on the Rock for its history and ...more
I wanted to read something I hadn't read before and didn't already know as a fan of Willa Cather's writing. Call it the intellectual stretch. The Professor's House (1925) is a short book with only three chapters. Now that I read the book I recognize it as three pieces written separate and apart from one another.

The second chapter, "Tom Outland's Story," stood alone for many years as an unfinished work. Today it would stand alone as a captivating short story about the Southwest during the fronti
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
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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...
My Ántonia O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1) Death Comes for the Archbishop The Song of the Lark One of Ours

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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.” 22 likes
“And that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own individual lives.” 10 likes
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