ReadySteadyBlog

Waggish reads John Williams' Stoner:


I cannot recall any other academic novel that treats its subject material with such unremitting gravity. The standard model of an academic novel is to either indulge in high melodrama (Mary McCarthy, Iris Murdoch) or to make light of the intellectual pretenses of its characters (Kinsley Amis's overrated Lucky Jim, Malcolm Bradbury's far funnier Stepping Westward). Williams's approach seems to have been to adopt the social realist approach of George Gissing and Sinclair Lewis's more sober moments and apply it to the incongruous and hermetic world of a university. Consequently, he treats the small events of Stoner's life with a sense of real consequence, as though they were matters of life and death. And so they become.

Readers Comments

  1. How very interesting. I picked up Stoner a while back in a fit of lust for the NYRB Classics series - as Waggish's blog shows, it's a particularly handsome edition - and this has spurred me to get around to reading it soon. A somber academic novel - hm, not like Howard Jacobson then...?

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