I have been wanting to read Stoner by John Williams (1922 to 1994, USA) for couple of years. It was the Guardian book of the year for 2013. I am kind of reeling now from the impact of the telling of the life of William Stoner, trying to decide if is a work of terminal sadness or if there is redemption under the pain of Stoner's life. My blog is in theory about literary works devoted to people who lead reading centered lives and this is just what Stoner did. Stoner started college at The University of Missouri around 1908 or so. He grew up on a simple farm owned by his parents. He goes to college to study agriculture science, planning on returning to the farm on graduation. He takes a class in literature and starts to love reading classical texts above all else. I don't feel like telling the plot. Stoner makes a terrible marriage, sticks with it for life, has a daughter but above all he loves reading. He never leaves the university, teaching there for forty plus years.
Stoner is an excellant view of the petty world of academic politics. Pedagogical professionals may be made to feel uncomfortable by the reasons offered as to why people choose to teach at universities.
It is also a historical look at life in America from around 1908 to 1945. We see the impact of World War One and Two on the campus, the depression and all is portrayed with great subtly.
I love the prose style of Williams. The characters are brilliantly done. The portrait of the marriage is just harrowing in its understated intensity.
I add my voice to the chorus of those who see this as must reading. It is a very powerful work and many will find it depressing.
Please share your experience with Stoner with us and let us know if you have read other works by John Williams.