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Stoner: A Novel

Stoner: A Novel

Book rating: 05 Paperback Vintage Classics

By (author) John Williams, Introduction by John McGahern

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  • Publisher: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 198mm x 20mm | 230g
  • Publication date: 5 July 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099561549
  • ISBN 13: 9780099561545
  • Sales rank: 315

Product description

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father's farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.

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Author information

John Williams was born on August 29, 1922 in Clarksville, Texas. He served in the United States Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945 in China, Burma and India. The Swallow Press published his first novel, Nothing But the Night, in 1948, as well as his first book of poems, The Broken Landscape, in 1949. Macmillan published Williams' second novel, Butcher's Crossing, in 1960. After recieving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Denver, and his Ph.D from the University of Missouri, Williams returned in 1954 to the University of Denver where he taught literature and the craft of writing for thirty years. In 1963 Williams received a fellowship to study at Oxford University where where he received a Rockefeller grant enabling him to travel and research in Italy for his last novel, Augustus, published in 1972. John Williams died in Arkansas on March 4, 1994.

Customer reviews

By Amber 31 May 2014 5

These three hundred pages took me longer to read than I thought--it wasn't exactly a book that I couldn't put down--but I loved every page. The characters are slowly and thoughtfully developed, and Stoner is a flawed and compelling character who is hard not to adore. This is one I'll read over and over...

Review quote

"I was stunned by it... It's beautifully written in simple but brilliant prose, a novel of an ordinary life, an examination of a quiet tragedy, the work of a great but little-known writer" -- Ruth Rendell Guardian "A masterpiece of sad lucidity, as moving as it is psychologically compelling" -- Peter Kemp Sunday Times "It is a remarkably affecting story, told in quiet, unshowy prose" -- Stefan Collini Times Literary Supplement "In recent times I have owed more to word of mouth than to the statements of reviewers, when it comes to finding my way to rewarding work published or reissued... This is also true, or truer still, of Stoner" -- Karl Miller Times Literary Supplement "My favourite book of the year...a masterpiece-beautifully written with a rare tenderness and wisdom that will make you want to read it again" -- Jonathan Pugh Daily Mail "With prose of breathtaking clarity, and a narrative that flows along seamlessly, Williams subverts the American dream via an underachieving and rather unlucky university lecturer... Anyone who loves literature will surely love this" -- Judy Moir Herald "The other book that cheered me up this year was Stoner by John Williams...re-emerging this year - rather triumphantly (and permanently this time, I think)" -- Robin Robertson Glasgow Sunday Herald "A compassionate depiction of Everyman that celebrates the transformative power of literature" -- Melonie Clarke The Lady "A beautiful, sad, utterly convincing account of an entire life... I'm amazed a novel this good escaped general attention for so long" -- Ian McEwan "A terrific novel of echoing sadness" -- Julian Barnes "Stoner is a brilliant, beautiful, inexorably sad, wise, and elegant novel" -- Nick Hornby The Believer "I have read few novels as deep and as clear as John Williams' Stoner. It deserves to be called a quiet classic of American literature" -- Chad Harbach "One of the great forgotten novels of the past century. I have bought at least 50 copies of it in the past few years, using it as a gift for friends. It is universally adored by writers and readers alike. The book is so beautifully paced and cadenced that it deserves the status of classic" -- Colum McCann Guardian "A beautiful and moving novel, as sweeping, intimate and mysterious as life itself" -- Geoff Dyer "One of the great unheralded 20th century American novels...Almost perfect" -- Bret Easton Ellis "It's simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But its one of the most fascinating things that you've ever come across" -- Tom Hanks Time "John Williams's Stoner is something rarer than a great novel -- it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away...few stories this sad could be so secretly triumphant, or so exhilarating. Williams brings to Stoner's fate a quality of attention, a rare empathy, that shows us why this unassuming life was worth living." New York Times

Back cover copy

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN MCGAHERN 'Stoner is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away' New York Times William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. Later, he becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured. See also: Time Will Darken It by William Maxwell