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The Professor's House

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  7,419 ratings  ·  612 reviews
An alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here.

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 stu
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. Subpl…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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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  7,419 ratings  ·  612 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
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1925, The Professor’s House is Willa Cather’s seventh book. Compared to the Great Plains Trilogy, written between 1913 and 1918, it is a less satisfying read for me. Cather’s prose retained its spare, clear, and vivid quality. It was at its finest when it was applied to capturing a sense of place or a state of mind. This novel about the emotional dislocation of a middle-aged professor and his growing estrangement from his wife and family had a sadness hanging like a damp cloud that ...more
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
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Professor Godfrey St. Peter's family is moving to a larger and more beautiful home in the midwestern university town of Hamilton. It is a home more reflective of St. Peter's status and accomplishments, but it is not what he wants.

This move causes the professor to reflect on his past and contemplate his future. Is he happy? "The university, his new house, his old house, everything around him, seemed insupportable, as the boat on which he is imprisoned seems to a sea-sick man." Frequently througho
“This book is a mess!” is the thought that popped into my head on completion of the book!

On the other hand, it does have some good lines. Cather writes best when describing a landscape, a place, a natural phenomenon. She aces when describing the American Southwest. She draws a person’s appearance with finesse too.

In this novel, the middle section has the feel of a separate story. In fact, it was the first part written and was a short story. It is entitled “Tom Outland’s Story”. In this part, To
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."

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.
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
Daniel Chaikin
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
A tough one for Cather readers. She‘s subtle, mixes styles abruptly, leaves the seams, and appears open ended, inconclusive. But does that make it a kind of masterwork or a kind of failure? Any way you look at it, she‘s poking holes in the materialistic roaring twenties and somehow admiring the mystery of American prehistory. Not recommended to the unwary or quick to judge, it maybe rewards openness and reflection.

That was my Listy post three days ago. Cather is such an interesting author to
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
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
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
My first book by Willa Cather was O Pioneers!, about about which I felt very lukewarm. I picked this up at the annual library book sale, but due to that other experience, I've let it languish. My GR friends have said they like how she writes, and that was sort of the one thing I remember didn't especially impress me. But they are right, because that was the thing I recognized in the very first pages of this. It is varied and interesting.

This novel is separated into three parts. The first, and lo
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Five stars for the writing. Three stars for what I felt were some structural issues. So four stars as a happy medium but that doesn't do justice to Cather's prose.

It's rare in this day that I wish for a novel to be longer--terse and compact seems to be my thing, now--but for Cather's gorgeous, elegiac novel of regret, rumination, and solitude, I would have gladly read more pages.
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.
Connie G
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
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Thomas Otto
Shelves: classics, 2015-books
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
Benjamin Marcher
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrative seems fragmented at times but the story and the writing are eloquent and relaxing. The philosophy and the humor are endearing. As someone who works in Higher Education, it's good to hear that even ~100 years ago, everyone was still complaining and groaning over 8am classes!
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,
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
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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

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