Front Cover
New York Review of Books, 1965 - Fiction - 278 pages
97 Reviews
Born the child of a poor farmer in Missouri, William Stoner [the author] is urged by his parents to study new agriculture techniques at the state university. Digging instead into the texts of Milton and Shakespeare, [he] falls under the spell of the unexpected pleasures of English literature, and decides to make it his life. [He] is the story of that life. The sorrows of William Stoner are tempered, somehow, by the demands of the daily routine. His own ordinary story is one that reflects a deep, and deeply American, loneliness. Deciding to become an academic, his career inevitably distances himself from his parents, although his position in the department is compromised by a quarrel with a more ambitious professor. His marriage to a girl from a middle class family is loveless, while a midlife love affair with a younger colleague - evoked with painful poignancy - is exposed and forced to end from outside pressures. Williams depicts the quiet existence of a lonely man with a subtle yet ruthless honesty. The book's triumph is to make us feel this forgotten man is a hero - not out of pity or for any deed he has done, but simply for being the man he was - and he does this without a trace of sentimentality

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Niecierpek - LibraryThing

It is a well constructed and executed novel, and I found reading it quite compelling, yet vaguely disappointing in the end. A life examined; a life that was straight, uncompromising and true to the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Ma_Washigeri - LibraryThing

I might come back to this book one day. This day I didn't get past page 31 yet it is beautifully written. I blame John McGahern for writing the introduction which contains a lot of spoilers, and ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (1965)

John Williams (1922-1994) was born and raised in northeast Texas. Despite a talent for writing and acting, Williams flunked out of a local junior college after his first year. He reluctantly joined the war effort, enlisting in the Army Air Corps, and managing to write a draft of his first novel while there. Once home, Williams found a small publisher for the novel and enrolled at the University of Denver, where he was eventually to receive both his B.A. and M.A., and where he was to return as an instructor in 1954. Williams remained on the staff of the creative writing program at the University of Denver until his retirement in 1985. During these years, he was an active guest lecturer and writer, publishing two volumes of poetry and three novels, Butcher’s Crossing, Stoner, and the National Book Award–winning Augustus.

John McGahern (1934-2006) was one of the most acclaimed Irish writers of his generation. His work, including six novels and four collections of short stories, often centered on the Irish predicament, both political and temperamental. Amongst Women, his best-known book, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a popular miniseries. His last book, the memoir All Will Be Well, was published shortly before his death.

Bibliographic information