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A brief comment on Stoner

Saturday on March 7th, 2020Other

On this special day, I finally finished reading the first book of this year, which is Stoner by John Williams. I don't know anything about the author's life. If I didn't check this note a little, I thought it was written in recent years, actually in 1965. Now, it seems that no one can write such a book.

Stoner is a novel about intellectuals. The author describes professor Stoner 's life with a cool touch. There is no lack of elements in a person' s life -- love, family, career, loneliness and death.

At the age of 19, Stoner, who was supposed to have spent his whole life on the land of his poor farm, unexpectedly entered the Agricultural College of the University of Missouri, but because of a literature class, he transferred to the College of arts the next year, received a doctor's degree, stayed in school and taught until he retired. At a dinner party, Stoner fell in love with a girl named Edith, a rich woman. They got married later, but it was an unfortunate marriage. It can be said that the marriage destroyed two people at the same time. Although Edith was very cultured, she lived in the shackles of ethics and morality since she was a child, and she had no self. The reason why she was willing to marry Stoner was that she just wanted to escape from the family to a large extent, just like their daughter grace did later. At the beginning of marriage, Edith was at a loss for sex in marriage. Apart from the necessary sex for pregnancy, the couple seemed to have been separated. Edith hates Stoner, and Stoner finds himself less in love with Edith. Poor daughter also became a tool of mother, playing with her own preference at will, but Stoner couldn't do anything about it. In this way, Grace's only joy in getting along with her father when she was a child was drowned. When she grew up, she casually found someone to be pregnant and then fled the family.

In addition to his family's failure, Stoner found another love. In middle age, he fell in love with Catherine, a teaching assistant. At this age, he finally learned something he should have known:

The person you first love is not the person you finally love. Love is not the ultimate goal but a process by which one person wants to know another person.

When they are together, having sex, reading or being silent, the two seem to have reached a state of mutual integration. Edith knew about her husband's affair, but she didn't care. She even occasionally asked the question, "you're going to be late for your date.". However, Stoner's enemies in the Department had to make use of it. Under this pressure, Stoner and Catherine parted tacitly. When they start to communicate, they may have foreseen the outcome, but when they are immersed in the world of only two people, no one is willing to think about it. Because, knowing his weakness, Stoner couldn't imagine divorcing Edith or living outside the university campus.

Although Stoner is weak in life, he is also proud in academic. For a student who is not educated or skilled, Stoner denies his qualification to study as a doctor. For this reason, he has been feuding with the Dean all his life, and he is also under pressure. He silently endured the unreasonable timetable arranged for him by the Department, wholeheartedly taught for the students, and even became a legend in the campus. However, influenced by the disharmony of family and the heavy task of teaching, Stoner had no academic achievements after he wrote a monograph in his early years. The moment before his death, he stroked the forgotten and useless book until his body stopped moving and the book fell into the silence of the room.

What kind of person is Stoner? Living in loneliness and loneliness, he is powerless to the nothingness and absurdity of real life, but he also makes a little resistance in the spiritual world, and finally he goes to death in the vague consciousness. This is a man on the edge. We can admire his spiritual independence or ridicule his cowardice. Has Stoner realized his pursuit? Maybe.

I was surprised to hear that the book sold well a few years ago. In my opinion, both the way of writing and the story itself are a little dull. Maybe I am too far away from the identity of "intellectual" to resonate with it.

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