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Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics)
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on 20 October 2017
A campus novel that couldn't be further removed from David Lodge and Malcolm Bradbury. John Williams was born in 1922 and served in the US Army Air Force during WWII and subsequently became an academic teaching literature and writing. He dedicated this book to his friends and colleagues in the English department and the University of Missouri while stressing that it is an entirely fictional work. It encapsulates the life of William Stoner, born in 1891 to impoverished Missouri farmers, who gains an undergraduate degree and then a PhD at the University of Missouri, failes to volunteer for active service in WWI, and becomes an academic who teaches at the university until his death in 1956, never winning promotion beyond assistant professor. It's a life in which arguably very little happens, but it's absorbing and gripping, tackling themes of the purpose of education, the nature of love, and the futility of war. The university, according to Stoner's iconoclastic friend Dave Masters, is "an asylum or - what do they call them now? - a rest home, for the infirm, the aged, the discontent and the otherwise incompetent." But Stoner proves to be utterly heroic, refusing to compromise his academic principles, described by his colleagues as a "dedicated teacher, a term they used half in envy and half in contempt." At a time when our universities are being prodded towards utilitarianism, it's salutory to read Williams' description of the World War II troops (of whom he was one) coming into the university after the war: "They came to their studies as Stoner had dreamed that a student might - as if those studies were life itself and not specific means to specific ends."
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on 28 May 2017
An engaging start with characters reminiscent of 'American Gothic'. We'll developed and convincing characters who seemed unable to escape their backgrounds and childhood years. At times there was too much detail ( for the uninitiated )the arguments surrounding the teaching theories of English Literature. Overall a sad tale with some beautiful and reflective passages.
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on 20 October 2017
An amazing book. I'm surprised it was never recommended to us at school or university. An absoultely beautiful novel.
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on 24 March 2017
My friend has borrowed this book and so far I have been told that it is most enjoyable.
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on 29 August 2017
Good product in good condition, great story beautifully told.
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on 12 September 2014
Beautifully written and completely engrossing; a story that will resonate with so many people. I bought this having read a good review and it was well deserved. One of the best books I've read for some time. I've now bought Augustus and Butcher's Crossing as I can't wait to read more of this superb writer.
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on 3 August 2017
good book
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on 20 May 2014
I had to read this book for my book club and really enjoyed it... in fact it was the highest scoring book that our book club has ever read! It has a very simple and elegant style. The story told is of the life of William Stoner, of his ups and downs and relationships along the way. I didn't find it the easiest read but it was well worth it.
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on 10 July 2017
Excellent book
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on 25 June 2017
Truly one of the best books ever written. An absolute masterpiece. I can't believe it's not more widely known. Read it!
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