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.
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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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"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