According to An Historical Sketch of the Department of English, published in 1986 and written by Leon T. Dickinson, a former MU English department chair and professor, Williams said the characters didn’t have prototypes of any importance. However, the real-life feud between Robert L. Ramsay, a philologist, and the department chair, Arthur H. R. Fairchild, inspired Williams. Both men were at the university from the turn of the century to the mid-1950s and had an antagonism that Dickinson describes as “intense, protracted, and largely inexplicable.” Although Fairchild and the fictitious Lomax share a few similarities — both had a disability — Lomax was much more malicious to Stoner, Dickinson notes. By the time of Stoner’s publication, these feuds were relics of the past.
Books you want
Books you didn’t know you wanted
Presents for your niece
(and lots of books not even shown in the picture)
Check out the whole sale.
New York Review of Books Classics is having its annual Summer Sale, and some of the bundles this year are particularly enticing. For instance, you can grab perennial Millions favorite (and current international bestseller) Stoner as part of a bundle that also includes Renata Adler’s Speedboat. The publishers are also offering John Horne Burns’s lost masterpiece, The Gallery, as part of a collection of World War II novels. You may recall David Margolick’s great profile of Burns from the New York Times Magazine last month.
John Williams’ 1965 novel “Stoner” focuses on a rather melancholy and emotional story about the journey of a Missouri farmer turned English Literature professor. It is filled with beautiful inspirational passages about the moment we discover our life’s passions. It took me on a very personal…
Great list. Stoner is a house favorite among Millions staffers. It was one of the first books we ever placed in our Hall of Fame, and deservedly so.
Stoner tried to explain to his father what he intended to do, tried to evoke in him his own sense of significance and purpose. He listened to his words fall as if from the mouth of another, and watched his father’s face, which received those words as a stone receives the repeated blows of a fist.
This year I finally read Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer, which a friend had been recommending for years as tailor-made for me. The friend was right. I also read Dyer’s Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It, which I enjoyed nearly as much, and several pieces in Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, a new collection of his work. In short, I became a big Dyer fan in 2011.
I would say that based on this quote alone, it has been an extremely rewarding Year in Reading for John Williams.
Photo Credit: Jason Oddy.