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Stoner: A Novel
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Stoner: A Novel (Paperback)

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Colum McCann once called Stoner one of the great forgotten novels of the past century, but it seems it is forgotten no longer - in 2013 translations of Stoner began appearing on bestseller lists across Europe. Forty-eight years after its first, quiet publication in the US, Stoner is finally finding the wide and devoted readership it deserves. Have you read it yet?

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.

Fiction & PoetryClassic fiction pre 1945Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Vintage Publishing Publication Date: 03/07/2012 ISBN-13: 9780099561545  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Stoner is quite rightly considered a classic novel. Dealing with the live and loves of an academic in the USA it is beautifully written in simple, elegant prose and very poignant, the story lingers long in the memory. I’m sure anyone in work, you don’t have to be an academic, will relate to the back stabbing pettiness and jealousies endemic in an organisation. The reflection, regrets and ‘what ifs’ will resonate with readers of all ages, though the character is never bitter and story doesn’t become in anyway mawkish. A lovely book and thoroughly recommended.

- 19/01/2018
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Stoner is a classic piece of literature. The book is so beautifully written, the writing is so effortlessly flawless, that you forget that there is virtually no plot. What plot there is is summarised on the first page. Stoner lives and then dies and his passing is almost unremarked by his family or colleagues. Clearly, that is not all. The book is an examination of life. In this case Stoner’s life but it could be anyone’s. His achievements are small and his set-backs are many, but he meets them all with a quiet acceptance which reveals his inner dignity. He achieves peace and fulfilment with very little that our modern world would class as “success”. He is an inspiration to us all. Read it for the underlying message or read it for the sublime writing. Just read it.

- 16/07/2015
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Such a beautiful book - barely a word out of place or superfluous. The story is heartbreaking, but somehow there is a kind of redemption, but the journey there is one of enormous sorrow

- 04/05/2014
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Everyone seems to be talking about this book at the moment. It is a straightforward chronological narrative covering the life from birth to death of a US man. Both the First and Second World Wars impinge indirectly on his life but he is too young for the First and too old for the Second. The book is grim and depressing in that the trajectory of a life inevitably involves his not achieving or fulfilling what he might have. In his personal life he is confronted by a mismatched wife; in his professional he is victimised by a senior colleague. His friendships - with his daughter and a student - are thwarted. But, it is beautifully written. the prose is simple but elegant and never self-conscious. I will look for other novels by John Williams.

- 03/02/2014
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Staff Choice

I am the kind of reader who is sometimes dissuaded by books with a large following — I always doubt the hype. This novel was a pleasant exception. Williams’ prose is precise and beautiful throughout. The plot is affecting, particularly in the second half.

George, Charing Cross Road


Charing Cross Rd Bookshop - 05/04/2016


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