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288 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1965
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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.
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.
He saw the future in the institution to which he had committed himself and which he so imperfectly understood; he conceived himself changing in that future, but he saw the future itself as the instrument of change rather than its object.
…he had gone through a kind of conversion, an epiphany of knowing something through words that could not be put in words…
"The strongest of us are but the puniest weaklings, are but tinkling cymbals and sounding brass, before the eternal mystery."
’You, too, are cut out for failure; not that you'd fight the world. You'd let it chew you up and spit you out, and you'd lie there wondering what was wrong. Because you'd always expect the world to be something it wasn't, something it had no wish to be. The weevil in the cotton, the worm in the beanstalk, the borer in the corn. You couldn't face them, and you couldn't fight them; because you're too weak, and you're too strong. And you have no place to go in the world.'So says one of Stoner’s best friends about him; early in the book. And I know he was right. Even when I hovered at the page enlisting the timid yet enthusiastic advance of a teen Stoner into his graduate class, I knew his friend was right. And as I followed Stoner’s journey from a farmer to a student to a professor, I held on to that opinion. Even as he fell in love and remained devoid of absorbing its vibrant colours, I nodded in affirmation. And as he discovered love, in its pristine bounty and lost it, and found it again, I smiled at the accurate assessment of his friend. But Stoner remained blissfully oblivious to the chequered opinions more out of a natural propensity than a measured effort.