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The Professor's House

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  6,788 ratings  ·  539 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 ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published October 31st 1990 by Vintage (first published 1925)
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Janice Yes. This book is typical tone of Willa Cather. The story is interesting, characters are nicely developed without getting bogged down in detail.…moreYes. This book is typical tone of Willa Cather. The story is interesting, characters are nicely developed without getting bogged down in detail. Subplots are straightforward to follow, and ending is not anticipated. (less)

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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,788 ratings  ·  539 reviews

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May 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patient readers
Shelves: read-in-2018
Professor St Peter and his family are finally moving to the new house after the success of the professor’s historical books on Spanish explorers. But when the time comes to abandon his old, rather uncomfortable and chilly office, St Peter can’t stand the thought, and so he decides to continue working there, bringing back uncalled memories revolving around Tom Outland, a mysterious but highly talented student of his, who broadened his horizons but also his family’s.

Willa Cather embodies the wild
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, Tom Outland. The middle section of the book about Outland's earlier life in the American west was perf ...more
Jul 09, 2015 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
A beautifully written story with many undertones to it. On the surface it appears a story of family life, quite mundane really but there are hidden depths here. Wonderful characterisation of all the characters I felt not just Godfrey St. Peter, even the periphery characters all had their time on the page.

A gentle novel, but heartfelt and reflective.
Aug 17, 2012 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
Nelson Zagalo
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The Professor’s House" foi publicado em 1925, quando Willa Cather tinha acabado de passar os 50, idade relevante pela temática de fundo escolhida: a crise existencial de meia-idade. O livro, como indica o título, foca-se num professor universitário, no topo da carreira, resignado pela falta de objetivos, passando os seus dias a rememorar um passado que não volta. Não tem, nem de perto, a acuidade psicológica de "Stoner" (1965) de John Williams, mas o modo como Cather desenrola os personagens e ...more
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully introspective little novel, in The Professor’s House Cather introduces us to Godfrey St. Peter a mid-western university professor. St Peter and his family have lived for many years in an ugly though rather loved house which they are finally moving out of – their two daughters married and off their hands, finally Mrs St Peter can have the house she has dreamed of. As the contents of the old house are moved into the new house, the Professor remains in his study in the old house – sur ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001, ebook
Regelmatig deed dit boek me denken aan het (veel recentere en door mij erg graag gelezen) boek 'The Sense of an Ending' van Julian Barnes, ook al is de verhaallijn helemaal anders. Blijkbaar ligt de thematiek 'man van middelbare leeftijd overschouwt zijn leven' me wel.

Aanrader dus voor mensen die net als ik houden van een elegant geschreven boek over dit thema, en het melancholisch gevoel van verlies dat daarmee gepaard gaat.
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
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful novel by this author (my second + I've read a short story by her)
Her descriptions of landscapes are second to none and how she describes light shining is like an artist painting a picture ..
I cannot wait for my next Willa Cather book.
Thanks to Tom, who I buddy read this with via often very long messages, and who is far more articulate and scholarly than me.
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
Nov 25, 2012 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
El Buscalibros |
En este libro Willa Cather nos habla de la frontera entre el viejo mundo y el nuevo. El profesor St Peter, un investigador del legado español en Estados Unidos de reconocido prestigio, se muda de la casa en la que ha vivido con su familia toda su vida y en la que tiene su estudio a otra más moderna y con más comodidades. La modernidad entra en la familia y también parece que va a entrar en sus costumbres. Sin embargo, él continúa alquilando su antigua casa, para no perder sus referencias y un po ...more
Missy J
Since 2012, "The Professor's House" has been on my to-read list. But I couldn't find this book anywhere. At that time I found an incomplete .pdf version of the book, which was very confusing to me. Then last month, I finally found it in the library and started reading it a couple of days ago.

Honestly, this book takes some time to get used to, at least for me. The language is very different from now. Published in 1925, people spoke differently back then, more polite and more flowery. We meet St.
Sep 22, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it

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
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Mind the Book
"He had never learned to live without delight." Föredrar att fokusera på ramberättelsen: campusroman-cum-medelålderskris. Originell och existentiell.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-read; first time in 2006. A stunning book, packed with so much and yet always lithe and elegant.
It's a really unusual book in how it's told - it constantly thwarts your expectations of what it's actually about. It starts in the present and goes backwards, suddenly switching from a story about a bourgeois family in Hamilton and their affairs to a bona fide adventure tale of exploration and stupendous discovery set in the surreally gorgeous wilderness of the South-west. That latter story, told in splendid lyrical prose that pays reverential respect to nature's beauty and humankind's capacity ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I'm not sure what I think of this book. It is listed on two different "1000 books to read before you die" lists. But I really don't see what all the fuss is about.

It is not a bad book, and it is written beautifully. In the second section of the book, you get a real sense of the Southwest (New Mexico). And the part set in DC is very evocative of the bureaucracy that runs through that town. But, the plot - what there is of it - just did not speak to me.

But the writing is so well done, I will want
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
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Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley (Gore), Virginia, in December 7, 1873.

She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing an article for the Nebraska State Journal, she became a regular contributor to this journal. Because of this, she changed her major and graduated with a bachelor's d
“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.” 25 likes
“And that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own individual lives.” 13 likes
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