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Nothing But the Night

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  773 ratings  ·  102 reviews
First published in 1948, Nothing but the Night marked the auspicious beginning of John Williams' career as a novelist—a career that would go on to include the classics Stoner and the National Book Award winning Augustus. In the person of Arthur Maxley, Williams investigates the terror and the waywardness of a man who has suffered an early traumatic experience. As a child, ...more
Paperback, 123 pages
Published July 1st 1990 by University of Arkansas Press (first published 1948)
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3.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  773 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Night, not Day

In all the endless road you tread / There’s nothing but the night.” - AE Housman

A young John Williams penned lush language to describe a single day in the life of another young man. He minutely observes everything, however trivial: two sentences to describe an envelope, and starting(!) to sit down. But it is profound and bewitching. The multi-sensory sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and smells of a dramatic day are poetic, sensuous, and sublime. (The sexual references are the lea
nulla, appunto: solo una noiosissima notte. la pubblicazione degli esordi letterari dovrebbe essere regolata dal codice civile, articolo per i danni morali, paragrafo non aprite quel cassetto.
sto valutando di chiederli a fazi (i danni), perché è stato davvero un colpo basso espormi ai tentennanti vagiti narrativi e stilistici del papà di stoner. la storia qui è inesistente e la famosa scrittura pulita di JW è solo desertificazione, lessicale e sintattica (a conferma che aprire i cassetti degli i
Lynne King
Oh never fear, man, nought’s to dread, .
Look not left nor right: .
In all the endless road you tread .
There’s nothing but the night. .

A. E. Housman

As I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms after reading three excellent books in succession by John Williams and knowing that there was only a novella of his remaining for me to read, I jumped into the pages of this book with a very open mind.

This was Williams’ first novel published when he was twenty-six. Yes, it is raw in style and there were
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This cover, man, I don't know.

This is the author's debut novel, which he wrote after dropping out of college. The novel starts with a disturbing but memorable dream sequence. The main character, Arthur, is a college dropout and seems to be suffering from PTSD, but from unknown circumstances. He struggles to connect with others, and then his father comes to town.

Stoner by John Williams remains one of my favorite novels, and is not in danger of being replaced by this one. This reads more like ps
Sam Quixote
A young man is traumatised by what he saw his parents do one night when he was ickle. Oh you, it wasn’t THAT, they weren’t “hugging” in a special way! But what was it? The mystery slowly unravels in Nothing but the Night...

Eh - not as good as Stoner. John Williams’ first book is a quick read and not just because it’s a novella but because Williams was a good writer right out the gate and his prose is very smooth and accessible. The quality of the writing, the pacing and some of the scenes, part
Betsy Robinson
I’ve read John Williams’s novel Stoner three or four times; I’ve studied it and consider it a perfect novel. This novella, 123 pages, first published in 1948 and written by twenty-two-year-old Williams when he was enlisted in the Army Air Force, portends the talent of Stoner and Williams’s other books, so it is worth reading. But it is young, overly earnest, self-conscious, and sometimes even melodramatic—as are many young writers’ first novels; this is not a criticism, just a fact of immaturit ...more
Manuel Alberto Vieira
The much celebrated author of "Stoner" and "The Butcher's Crossing" failed to fully accomplish the purpose of his first novel's premise. The prose is boringly wordy and somewhat lost in endless descriptions that subtract the desired effect of the substance. The writing is quite good at times, but Williams' genius (seen in wonderful images and atmospheres) is compromised by an excessive urge to explain too much, to uncover what should remain hidden. Perhaps because the novel takes place in that t ...more
Sophie VersTand
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klassiker
Was zähmt dich nach einem gewaltvollen Trauma? Was lässt die Dunkelheit in dir letztlich wieder hervorbrechen?
In „Nichts als die Nacht“ erzählt John Williams novellenhaft von zwölf Stunden eines gescheiterten Lebens. Lethargie, Müdigkeit, soziale Ängste umgeben den 24-jährigen Arthur Maxley. In einer einzigen Nacht bestimmen drei Menschen den Fortgang des Ganzen und lassen ihn alles Elend spüren. Man merkt diesem ersten Werk John Williams eine unfassbare Angst vor dem Leben an. Das schaurige, un
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americani
Una giornata trascorsa con Arthur Maxley, parassita della società, come si definisce lui stesso. Un cerchio esatto da un’estasi alcoolica all’altra, da una notte all’altra.
In realtà Arthur è un uomo spezzato, un grande dolore lo rende impermeabile a tutto, vive l’alcool come allontanamento dalla realtà e allo stesso tempo come unico filo che lo unisca ad un passato che ama, che a volte rinnega, che cerca di capire e che rivive nella sua mente in mille modi diversi. Un giorno disturbante per cer
This is one of the books that I know technically great, but just leaves me a bit cold. I think part of it is that the twist, if twist it is, wasn't that, well twistful. It would make a good book for discussion for some aspects of the story. But there was something about it that left me cold.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Arthur Maxley wakes in his room, which he thinks is like his soul--dirty and disarranged. Shrugging off that thought, he slaps cold water on his face and determines to go for a walk. But he never gets to his destination, sidetracked to a cafe. His egg makes him think of an evil eye and depressed by the little cafe and ends up back home, the windows in his building seeming to leer at him. Maxley's nerves are disturbed by memories. Everything he encounters is magnified in grotesque ways, like circ ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading Stoner, I realized I had found one of my favorite novels ever. My inclination to read through John Williams' oeuvre was cemented when I discovered that he was an admirer of Willa Cather.

Nothing But the Night was Williams' first work, and was noticeably omitted from the recent NYRB reprints, which include his other three novels. I couldn't find much background on this book, but the short commentary on the internet isn't what I would consider positive.

It was described as "turgid, overwritt
Ilenia Zodiaco
Indubbiamente scritto -ma non è motivo di stupore - in maniera egregia. Tuttavia ad una prima parte splendida, che introduce un personaggio "letargico" e senile, segue una seconda parte non altrettanto efficace. Per quanto sia piacevole l'eco di Proust e l'idea di fondo del romanzo (tutto incardinato sull'idea-simbolo della notte), non mi ha convinta del tutto. In ogni caso, lo consiglio, soprattutto a chi ama lo scrittore. Un esordio degnissimo di nota, da considerarsi una fase embrionale.

May 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Il primo romanzo di J.E.Williams. Insignificante prova d'autore, oggi pubblicata sull'onda del successo di "Stoner". Non vale nulla. È di un proto-minimalismo sconfortante. Mi ha ricordato il primo B.E.Ellis ("Meno di zero"), pur se privo della medesima forza devastante. Triste; noioso; circonvoluto; forzato; inutile. L'acquisto è stato un errore che non si dovrebbe commettere: cedere alla pubblicità in modo acritico, irriflessivo.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Released while Williams was still in college, it has all the hallmarks of a debut novel: earnest, self-serious, and needlessly obfuscated. The hardcover is rarer than a pitcher who can hit a baseball, and you are all welcome to come over and see the one I received from Mrs Williams (God bless you, ma'am).
Kasa Cotugno
Stoner by John Williams is regarded as a classic, but this, his first exercise, seems like it is just that -- an exercise. I was reminded of the issue of Go Set a Watchman -- people refused to believe that Harper Lee had only written the one iconic book, and to give her credit, she had hidden Watchman away, never acknowledging its existence, until it was beyond her control. The result was an embarrassment. As Stoner by Williams is regarded by many as the best book ever written, efforts to read m ...more
Gestileerder dan Stoner, wat ruw aan de randjes, nog niet de stem die hij in Stoner wist aan te boren. 26 was Williams toen hij dit schreef, zijn debuut. Desalniettemin geen straf om te lezen. Vrij donker en rauw, een verhaal over de nasleep van een traumatische jeugdgebeurtenis, zelfdestructie, vastzitten in totale lethargie, woede en hopeloosheid. Eén vergelijking met Stoner durf ik -voorzichtig- te maken. Je zou als lezer het boek in willen kruipen, een Brandy met de goede man drinken en zegg ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, ebook
breve romanzo giovanile di john williams- esordio del parco autore di soli tre romanzi, tra cui il fondamentale "stoner". leggendo queste poche pagine, sulla giornata di un giovane problematico che vive sospeso tra realtà e sogno, sono restata sbalordita dal modo in cui, con il passare del tempo, la scrittura e la sensibilità dell'autore si siano affinate, la sua narrazione sia divenuta incredibilmente più asciutta e profonda, i personaggi più vivi e meno banali. da prendere per quel che è: una ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars - but apparently it should only be 3 because at no stage while reading this book could I remember the title.

I enjoyed the way it was written, but not much happens until near the end and then it concludes quite abruptly. It is the kind of book that you could read again and again and still enjoy the vivid imagery.
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nulla, solo la notte
Questa storia si svolge in una notte, ed è la storia di un giovane ragazzo dalla vita insofferente, dove incubi e realtà si alternano. Dove questo giovane dall’anima apatica si trascina per le strade della città di San Francisco, senza occupazione immerso nelle sue paranoie, paure e strani ricordi. Volendo DIMENTICARE SE STESSO. Definendosi spesso un parassita.

“Dipingi quadri? Suoni? Cosa ci fai con queste mani, Arthur?
Le sorrise con gentilezza. Si sentiva sempre più potente
Mar 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Romanzo di esordio e ne ha tutti gli elementi. Approssimato, confuso, sospeso, con eccessi descrittivi a fronte di una inconsistenza di fondo. Molti elementi restano sospesi, altri sono scontati, altri ancora frutto di un virtuosismo poco convincente. L'ho comprato spinta dalla bella impressione di Stoner, mi dispiace aver buttato via i soldi.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Romanzo (breve) d'esordio che poteva pure rimanere nel cassetto. Capisco che, però, avendo un autore di indubbio successo e richiamo, la tentazione di cavarne fuori qualche soldino sia molto forte.
Bella scrittura ma nulla in confronto a quello che sarà Stoner. Trama vacua e personaggi farraginosi che sembrano appartenere al secolo scorso.
Stéphane Vande Ginste
Ik had al eerder kennis gemaakt met John Williams en zijn legendarische "Stoner", maar ook deze kleine roman - of eerder novelle - is een meesterwerk in miniatuur. Arthur Maxley, het hoofdpersonage in dit verhaal, was als kind getuige van een gewelddadige scène tussen zijn ouders. Het bezorgt hem een levenslang trauma. Williams laat ons het hele verhaal door echt "kijken" in de geest van Maxley, en dat gebeurt in detail en met veel psychologisch inzicht. Voor Arthur Maxley bevindt zijn "echte" l ...more
Alessandro Pontorno
Leggere il romanzo di esordio di uno scrittore molto amato è una sfida, un lavoro da speleologi, alle volte un atto di fede.
Perché è inevitabile che tra il John E. Williams di "Nothing but the night" (1948) e "Stoner" (1965) ci sia un abisso di vita, di esperienza, di maturazione umana e letteraria.
Leggendo questo agile libercolo è impossibile non rimanere ammirati dalla bellezza della prosa del pur giovane Williams, cifra stilistica che rimarrà indelebile e raffinata nei romanzi successivi.
Hesham Mahozi
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
As this is the last book which I have read by John Williams,I can tell now why Williams remains one of my favorite and most outstanding writers I have ever read.In this particular book all of his unique characteristics as a writer are palpable.Nothing but the night is his first novel and the shortest in length, and while I was reading ,I could feel how his words are working.His words are penetrative,they float in the air till they reach the heart and they dwell and vibrate over there.he has the ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ci sono due dialoghi eccezionali e due paragrafi perfetti.
Per il resto l'ho trovato abbastanza banale e con una scrittura un po' immatura (il paragone con Stoner, ahimé, viene fuori anche se non si vuole). Temi scontati: il sogno, l'amore per la madre, l'avversità alla figura materna.
Peccato. È però un bene che sia stato pubblicato il romanzo d'esordio di Williams.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics

Onirico, poetico, bellissimo. Mai avrei creduto di poter apprezzare un romanzo del genere, così introspettivo, così ricco di non detti, eppure la prosa di John Williams è riuscita a compiere questa magia. C'è una potenza nelle sue parole, una forza straordinaria che è capace di innalzarle al di sopra della vicenda del protagonista e renderle applicabili ad ogni singola esistenza.

"Ecco qual è il momento più bello della vita, il tempo perduto. Il tempo dell'estate, quando le foglie
Bhaskar Thakuria
The novel starts off with the protagonist alone inside his apartment room. It is not clear whatever he is feeling or thinking, but he seems to be in an eternally vacuous state bordering between dream and illusion. He has dropped out of college, separated from his estranged father, living from his family allowance in an apartment hotel, having almost no connections in real life, and drinking himself to forget something tangible and palpable, probably from some disturbing memory of his troubled ch ...more
Tre stelle è solo per differenziarne il valore (decisamente minore) rispetto agli altri romanzi del medesimo Williams: Stoner e Augustus (cui ne avrei concesse anche più di 5 se fosse consentito) e Butcher’s Crossing, che 5 se non le raggiunge le rasenta proprio.

Anche in questo caso quindi considerate almeno mezza stella in più, o quasi 4 se non esistessero i precedenti di cui sopra. Perché il libro è tutt’altro che così-così, ma un degno romanzo di esordio di uno scrittore ancora giovane (poco
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A powerful book, very sad and dark, but still immensely beautiful. Williams chooses his words so delicately and uses such vivid, special images that he created a dream world in my mind. The entire book is steeped in an atmosphere that seems like drowning in darkness, with occasional flashing lights glaring across one‘s view and lifting one up...
Williams made me feel such deep pity and so much sympathy for his main character that I wanted to cry for him in the end.
This novella depicts trauma in a
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

John Edward Williams, Ph.D. (University of Missouri, 1954; M.A., University of Denver, 1950; B.A., U. of D., 1949), enlisted in the USAAF early in 1942, spending two and a half years as a sergeant in India and Burma. His first novel, Nothing But the Night, was published in 1948, and his first volume of poems, Th
“That is the very best time of life, he thought again: when you are very young, when living is a simple, perfect succession of golden days.” 6 likes
“Stafford was late again, as he had expected he would be late. He signaled the bartender and indicated his empty glass. He burrowed a little more securely in his separate awareness, he nestled a little more deeply into his private darkness, and he waited.

In the long run, he thought, that is all one does; wait for people or keep people waiting.”
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