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Stoner

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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  73,026 ratings  ·  8,738 reviews
William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth 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, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage ...more
Paperback, NYRB Classics, US / CAN Edition, 278 pages
Published 2006 by New York Review Books (first published 1965)
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Popular Answered Questions
Madeleine Gadd Because it reminds us that ordinary people who live ordinary lives can have a beautiful story to tell too.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
aPriL does feral sometimes At the end of the book, Stoner has some self-revelations in which he comes up with explanations how he is about it all, if I remember.

I think despite…more
At the end of the book, Stoner has some self-revelations in which he comes up with explanations how he is about it all, if I remember.

I think despite Stoner's rationalizations about Edith, his daughter's issues and Katherine, he WAS true to his heart. He avoided the war when he was young. That exposed the choice he would make over and over - avoiding the wars of life in all of its aspects and echoes. That was who he really was, if not what he wanted to be. Perhaps we are following our hearts even as we think we have sacrificed, when actually it's because of unconscious and deeper feelings.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nyrb
"In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by ...more
Jimmy
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Spoiler alert: read at your own peril.

UPDATE December 2010:

I just submitted this to Better Book Titles. I hope they accept it.






Original Review October 2009:
This is the most straight-forward linear narrative type of novel I've read in the past year. So at first, I was not impressed. But I soon realized that the novel is impressive precisely because it is able to be so damn linear, the writing style so damn plain, and the characters so damn dull and yet... and yet it manages to make me continue rea
...more
Jim Fonseca
I read Stoner after I saw that almost all my friends on GR had read it. It’s an impressive work which I finished months ago but hard a hard time figuring out what to say about it with thousands of reviews already out there.

Stoner is the life story of an unremarkable man and the consensus seems to be “he did his best.” He came from a Missouri farm family and a poor background but manages to become an English professor at the university. One theme is the ‘loneliness’ and ‘distant courtesy’ of man
...more
Cecily
After 63 pages: “Stunned by Stoner. This is agonisingly wonderful.”

At the end: “Finished. Him and me. Exquisite but exhausted.”
Then I immediately started rereading - something I have only previously done with children’s picture books.

It is, without question, my joint favourite book ever. The other, utterly different ones are Titus Groan/Gormenghast (which I reviewed HERE) and the Heaven and Hell trio (which I reviewed HERE). But it’s hard to explain its mesmerising power in a way that does it j
...more
Bookdragon Sean
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bibliophiles, book junkies, obsessive readers and those that are lost in words.
Recommended to Bookdragon Sean by: Councillor's review
THIS WAS MY BEST BOOK OF 2016!

It was a hard decision; it was a choice between this and The Vegetarian by Hang Kang. But I had to think which book taught be the most, and which book helped me the most. I enjoyed them both immensely, I loved them, but this one set me on my path in life; thus, I will always be grateful for John Williams and his Stoner.

******************************************************
He opened the book; and as he did so it became not his own. He let his fingers rifle throu
...more
Glenn Russell
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing



For the hardworking men and women living in the open, windswept farm country of the American Midwest during the late 19th and early 20th century, day-to-day existence was frequently harsh an occasionally downright hostile, a stark, demanding life chiseling character as can be seen above in artist Grant Wood’s American Gothic. If you take a good look at this painting and then envision a son, an only child, working the fields alongside his father, you will have a clear image of the starting point
...more
Orsodimondo
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
UN DIFETTO DI LUCE**
Shakespeare le parla attraverso tre secoli di storia, Mr Stoner. Riesce a sentirlo?... Cosa le sta dicendo, Mr Stoner? Cosa significa questo sonetto?
Stoner alzò lo sguardo con lentezza, riluttante. "Significa", disse… "Significa", ripeté, e non riuscì a terminare la frase
.

William Stoner era all’università per studiare agraria e tornare in campagna ad aiutare suo padre nei campi e, magari, grazie allo studio, riuscire a far rendere meglio la terra avara.
Un sonetto di Shakesp
...more
Rinda Elwakil
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf_ebub_tablet
لأن كتابا جيدا بإمكانه إنقاذ حياتك..



كيف نبدو في عيون العالم؟



ويليام ستونر،ويلي
مثال مرعب لنظرية "جعلوه فانجعل"، مثلت لي كل ما أكره وكل ما أسعى لأن لا أكون




هلم يا رجل، افعل شيئا بحق الله
افعل شيئا لعينا.


*لا تعلم هل تريد أن تصرخ بها في وجهه وتصفعه، أم تحتضنه وتبكي..




ترك مزرعة والديه ليلتحق بالجامعة، لا لأنه أراد ذلك، لأنهم آخبروه أنه بإمكانه أن يفعل
انتقل لمنزل اقرباء له خلال فترة الجامعة، وكلوه بمهام لا تقل مشقة عما كان يقوم به كمزارع في منزله الأول
اومأ برأسه و باشر بالعمل علي مر سنوات، بل وفق مواعيد
...more
David
I was going to start out this review of Stoner by feigning comic incredulity that the former conductor of the Boston Pops wrote a novel about potheads, but that is far, far too obvious and unsatisfying even for the likes of me. Instead, I am going to confess that I read only half of it (and, thereby, my ignorance has been properly disclaimed) but that this aborted reading filled me with such unmitigated contempt for the author that I plan on mounting every soapbox (if soapboxes haven't been tech ...more
RandomAnthony
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
John Williams's Stoner blew me away. I've never read anything like it and some passages left me moved to the point of exhaustion. When I finished I put down the book (well, the Nook), picked it up again, and re-read highlighted pages. Stoner gave me strength; if you believe that the right books find you at the right time, as sometimes I believe, this book found me at the right time.

Stoner outlines the life of a farm kid who, at his dad's recommendation, attends college for agricultural studies b
...more
Ilse
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

What to do when everything goes wrong? Work, marriage, parenthood, eventually health? Plenty of benevolent advices and platitudes will whizz around your ears, to help you to bounce back . Remember, it is all in your mind. Happiness is the result of your approach to life, not of what happens to you. Revolt, anger, complaining or denial won’t change anything. Focus on what is instead of on what should be. Accept, accept, accept. Take one step at time, keep
...more
°°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο   Αμ
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria Headley
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: next-to-the-bed
Devastating novel of academia, unfulfilled hope, and a life not-entirely-lived. Gorgeous writing, heartbreaking plot, and if you're a fan, as I tend to be, of stories set in the dark halls of libraries and universities, this is one to read. The love story within this book is suddenly out-of-nowhere rapturous, and the marriage is brittle, delicate, insensible and perfectly done. The book feels so modern, though the bulk of the action is set in the 30's and 40's. I kept stopping to check that this ...more
Samadrita
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” - Henry David Thoreau

The triumph of this work lies in its self-effacing world-weariness, its tone of indifference even to the prospective reader's concerns. In the manner of the protagonist's iron stoicism in the face of misfortune and persecution, the narrative revels in its own lacklustreness, its state of diffused melancholy.

William Stoner, first student and eventually English professor at (fictional
...more
Camille Stein
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Eakins - The Thinker, Portrait of Louis N. Kenton.jpg

The Thinker: Portrait of Louis N. Kenton * Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (1844-1916) - http://ow.ly/BTMT302ZgKN








William Stoner se sintió vinculado a él de una manera que no hubiera sospechado; sabía que Lomax había pasado por una especie de conversión, una epifanía de conocimiento a través de las palabras que no podía ser explicada con palabras, como a Stoner le había sucedido una vez, en la clase de Archer Sloane.


El amor a la literatura, al lenguaje, al misterio de la mente y el corazón manifestán
...more
Seemita
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who prefer a serene stream to a wild wave
As a child, I had a thing for inanimate things. A sling, a pond, a pebble, a mica chip; they would catch my attention and hold it hostage. I would play for hours together with these silent, placid beings, drawing great solace from their harmless, non-fluctuating colour, and intention. Occasionally, a friend or two would drop in and ask in mock incredulity, ‘Don’t you ever get tired playing with them? They neither move nor speak.’ I wouldn’t answer. Only under my breath, after their departure, wo ...more
Dolors
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This might be for me the best book of the year.
Sublimely told and with such a subtle narrative which flows easily displaying the life of an ordinary man during an extraordinary time in America. This might be the story of a whole becoming country or only the unheroic account of a simple existence.
But its simplicity is what makes it unearthly beautiful, nostalgic and moving.
Early 1900's, Missouri, although Stoner comes from a modest family of farmers his father sends him to the state university to
...more
Lisa
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Look! I am alive!"

Being alive, and feeling it, is more important than striving for perfect happiness, which is an illusion in any case, - that is what Stoner seems to say over the course of his life. And reading his story made me acutely aware of being alive myself, going through the range of emotions it inspired in me, from sadness and anger over tenderness and love to deeply felt satisfaction when I closed the novel.

Stoner is Don Quixote stuck in reality.

He has the same love of reading and le
...more
Frona
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The story evolves so gently and quietly that talking about it feels like tainting it and violently intruding on something that prefers to be left in peace. This has as much to do with the story’s subtle and eluding tone, as with the parallel narrative. Stoner is a quiet and gentle men with the purest of intentions, but which, as it often happens, get tainted when materialized. His life advances in an isolated manner, devoid of the force that transforms a thought into action or the knowledge of h ...more
Fionnuala
 

Albrecht Dürer: Job and his Wife

Vintage books seem to specialise in producing beautiful paperback editions of titles that have been out of print or have only recently been translated into English. I have a small collection of their red-spined covers sitting on my shelves. They all have something in common apart from the red spines; they are books I may read again sometime in my life because of the quality of the writing, the depth of the characterisation and the overall worth of the contents. T
...more
Steve
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is surprising, not so much for any plot twists or odd behavior, but for how we come to regard an overtly unremarkable man as interesting and likable. William Stoner was the only child at his family’s farm in Missouri, with a work-to-play ratio that was high even by turn-of-the-last-century standards. When he came of age, his father sat him down and explained in about two minutes’ time how he thought it best to send his son to college to study modern agriculture. It was the longest Ston ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: farm-shelf, recent
I would have never thought the bland life of an unfulfilled midwestern professor could be so grasping. Stoner is not someone you want to know or be related to but his struggles are real and worth knowing about. At times, it appears he will find contentment (he is able to get out of the laborious life led by his parents) but his hardships are rough and his life is never lived for himself.

Carol
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-book, favorites
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

― Henry David Thoreau,

I loved this novel! I’ve had this story downloaded for some time but I’ve always passed it over anticipating a dull and depressing slog…in spite of all the glowing reviews from my Goodreader friends. But, it was as compelling for me to read as any thriller. .The critic Morris Dickstein called Stoner,
"something rarer than a great novel -- it is a perfect novel, so
well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, it take
...more
David
Reading "Stoner" gave me another one of those parallel universe experiences. In the goodreads universe, where everyone else lives, this is apparently a much loved and lauded book. Heck, those good folks at the New York Review of Books tell us it's a classic. And has this to say about the main protagonist:

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 unforg
...more
Paul Bryant
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I asked my daughter if me and her and her mother were in a hot air balloon and it was about to crash into the ocean who would you throw out to keep the balloon aloft, me or your mother? She said she’d throw me out. I said Why? She said Because you’re bigger than her. So I said okay, imagine that me and your mother weigh exactly the same, then who would you throw out? She said she’d throw me out. I said why? She said because you’re older, so you’ve had your fun. So I said okay, imagine that me an ...more
Luca Ambrosino
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ENGLISH (Stoner) / ITALIANO

«William Stoner entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in the year 1910, at the age of nineteen. Eight years later, during the height of World War I, he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree and accepted an instructorship at the same University, where he taught until his death in 1956. He did not rise above the rank of assistant professor, and few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses. When he died his colleagues made
...more
Adam Dalva
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly melancholy, wistful campus novel whose flurries of hope are always the perfect length - we root for Stoner, even knowing from the beginning where the story will end. There are incredible descriptions: marble stairs wearing down over 40 years; college greens stretching forever; memorable bodies on memorable characters; faces of loved ones flashing through light. And the supporting characters! One pleasure of this book is that no one, except a certain love interest, is particularly m ...more
Aubrey
The US does not have sadness on its agenda. Its psyche is a constant concern with happiness, fulfillment, the American Dream and the way to this god given of all rights. Never has the isolated country been brought to its knees. Never has the culture and creed and thought of civilization of the American people been forced to view sadness as something other than an error to be fixed. Sadness is the result of tragedy, grief, a lightning strike catastrophe that time will heal. Naturally.

America, you
...more
Christy
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Of course, I can't be objective, but my philosophy prof partner is beautiful inside and out, with an otherworldly mind and delightful character. He is also somewhat an "odd duck" (Asperger's much??) somewhat similar to Stoner, except he was raised in New York by artist parents, and always had the academic knack. We read this sequentially last summer at a lake rental way up the coast here in Maine, and when he brought it to me over the porch he had tears in his eyes. Both of us, until this year, ...more
Zoeytron
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How many of us wander through life expecting the world to be something it isn't? I fell hard for William Stoner with his quiet, patient strength. This is a somber tale of love and the lack of love, the slow death of a heart haunted by loss; the vindictiveness of college politics, the logic of grammar, and the absolute joy of reading.

...he wandered through the stacks, among the thousands of books, inhaling the musty odor of leather, cloth, and drying page as if it were an exotic incense.

All five
...more
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Around the Year i...: Stoner, by John Williams 16 158 Jan 07, 2019 12:50AM  
A Reading Path: Book of the Month: November 2018 1 2 Nov 20, 2018 03:49AM  
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PewDiePie's Liter...: Stoner - John Williams 1 12 Jun 20, 2018 02:19PM  
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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
...more
“Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.” 540 likes
“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.” 395 likes
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