Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Stoner: 50th Anniversary Edition
by John Williams, introduction by John McGahern
The critic Morris Dickstein has said that John Williams’s Stoner “is something much rarer than a great novel—it is a perfect novel,” and in the last decade this austere and deeply moving tale of a Midwestern college professor has been embraced by readers all over the world. Here, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Stoner, NYRB Classics offers a special hardback edition of the book that also includes a previously unpublished correspondence between John Williams and his agent about its writing and publication.
Download the Reading Group Guide for Stoner.
A beautiful, sad, utterly convincing account of an entire life…I’m amazed a novel this good escaped general attention for so long.
One of the great unheralded 20th-century American novels …Almost perfect.
—Bret Easton Ellis
Stoner is a novel of an ordinary life, an examination of a quiet tragedy, the work of a great but little-known writer.
A beautiful and moving novel, as sweeping, intimate, and mysterious as life itself.
I have read few novels as deep and as clear as Stoner. It deserves to be called a quiet classic of American literature.
The most beautiful book in the world.
It’s simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it’s one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across.
—Tom Hanks, Time
The book begins boldly with a mention of Stoner’s death, and a nod to his profound averageness: ‘Few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses.’ By the end, though, Williams has made Stoner’s disappointing life into such a deep and honest portrait, so unsoftened and unromanticized, that it’s quietly breathtaking.
—The Boston Globe
Williams’ descriptions of the experience of reading both elucidate and evince the pleasures of literary language; the ‘minute, strange, and unexpected combinations of letters and words’ in which Stoner finds joy are re-enacted in Williams’ own perfect fusion of words.
Stoner, by John Williams, is a slim novel, and not a particularly joyous one. But it is so quietly beautiful and moving, so precisely constructed, that you want to read it in one sitting and enjoy being in it, altered somehow, as if you have been allowed to wear an exquisitely tailored garment that you don’t want to take off.
—The Globe and Mail
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…The book is so beautifully paced and cadenced that it deserves the status of classic.
—Colum McCann, Top 10 Novels, The Guardian
Stoner is undeniably a great book, but I can also understand why it isn’t a sentimental favorite in its native land. You could almost describe it as an anti-Gatsby… Part of Stoner’s greatness is that it sees life whole and as it is, without delusion yet without despair… ;The novel embodies the very virtues it exalts, the same virtues that probably relegate it, like its titular hero, to its perpetual place in the shade. But the book, like professor William Stoner, isn’t out to win popularity contests. It endures, illumined from within.
—Tim Kreider, The New Yorker
Stoner is written in the most plainspoken of styles… Its hero is an obscure academic who endures a series of personal and professional agonies. Yet the novel is utterly riveting, and for one simple reason: because the author, John Williams, treats his characters with such tender and ruthless honesty that we cannot help but love them.
—Steve Almond, Tin House
The best book I read in 2007 was Stoner by John Williams. It’s perhaps the best book I’ve read in years.
—Stephen Elliott, The Believer
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.
—Morris Dickstein, The New York Times Book Review
Stoner by John Williams, contains what is no doubt my favorite literary romance of all time. William Stoner is well into his 40s, and mired in an unhappy marriage, when he meets Katherine, another shy professor of literature. The affair that ensues is described with a beauty so fierce that it takes my breath away each time I read it. The chapters devoted to this romance are both terribly sexy and profoundly wise.
—The Christian Science Monitor