Stoner

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Born the child of a poor farmer in Missouri, William Stoner the author is urged by his parents to study new agriculture techniques at the state university. Digging instead into the texts of Milton and Shakespeare, he falls under the spell of the unexpected pleasures of English literature, and decides to make it his life. He is the story of that life. The sorrows of William Stoner are tempered, somehow, by the demands of the daily routine. His own ordinary story is one that reflects a deep, and deeply American, loneliness. Deciding to become an academic, his career inevitably distances himself from his parents, although his position in the department is compromised by a quarrel with a more ambitious professor. His marriage to a girl from a middle class family is loveless, while a midlife love affair with a younger colleague - evoked with painful poignancy - is exposed and forced to end from outside pressures. Williams depicts the quiet existence of a lonely man with a subtle yet ruthless honesty. The book's triumph is to make us feel this forgotten man is a hero - not out of pity or for any deed he has done, but simply for being the man he was - and he does this without a trace of sentimentality