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The Professor's House (1925)

de Willa Cather

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1,736458,051 (3.81)206
On the eve of his move to a new, more desirable residence, Professor Godfrey St Peter finds himself in the shabby study of his former home. Surrounded by the comforting, familiar sights of his past, he surveys his life and the people he has loved-his wife Lillian, his daughters, and Tom Outland, his most outstanding student and once, his son-in-law to be. Enigmatic and courageous-and a tragic victim of the Great War-Tom has remained a source of inspiration to the professor. But he has also left behind him a troubling legacy which has brought betrayal and fracture to the women he loves most.… (més)
  1. 10
    Stoner de John Williams (Petroglyph)
    Petroglyph: Both "Stoner" and "The professor's house" deal with a small-town university professor vaguely comfortable with his family life, who fits uneasily in a new life that sorta kinda happened to him while he was focusing on his work. Both present compelling immersions in bittersweet nostalgia and the ever-present sense that life could have gone entirely different (and perhaps it should have).… (més)
  2. 02
    El Sol també s'aixeca de Ernest Hemingway (2below)
    2below: These are both poignant stories about the disruption and disorder that results from not being where we want to be in life and living in denial of that sad truth.
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I found myself somewhat at sea with this one. Every time I thought I knew where it was going it would head off on something else. Professor St. Peter seems at some kind of crossroads, unhappy with the things happening around him and constantly annoyed by his, fairly, very annoying family. He won't let go of the attic study he has worked in even though they have moved to a new house but that doesn't really seem to end up as the theme I thought it would, He remembers former student Tom Outland with an almost mythic . Then we suddenly have a large section of Tom's story in New Mexico. That writing was more of what I expected from Cather but the return to St. Peter felt rushed and the end was very open ended. I don't think most of this would be a problem if I really cared about the characters but I never did. Okay, I did enjoy thoroughly despising Louie but who wouldn't? Just a bit too esoteric for me.
  amyem58 | May 14, 2022 |
Summary: The move to a new home, academic success and his daughter’s marriages, and a deceased former student and son-in-law, precipitate a crisis for Professor Godfrey St. Peter.

The first sign was when the Professor paid up the rent on his old house so that he could still use his spartan old study, furnished only with a table, a sofa with Tom Outland’s old blanket, a couple seamstress’s forms left by Augusta, the family seamstress, and an unreliable heater that required leaving a window open for safety’s sake. The lavish new home had plenty of room since his daughters had married. But this was the place where he wrote the multi-volume history, Spanish Adventures in North America, that was the cornerstone of his academic success and the awards that followed that made the new house that Lillian had always wanted possible. Up until then, any niceties had come from her inherited income.

St. Peter’s older daughter Rosamond had originally married a former student, Tom Outland, who died in the war, but not before leaving her a patent that her new husband, Louie Marcellus, has commercialized, with lavish profits that he uses to lavish favor on Rosamond and her family. The younger daughter, Kathleen, less vain and more sensitive has married a journalist. There is tension between the two, particularly as the Marcelluses take their parents on trips, including a proposed trip to Paris.

St. Peter decides not to go, pottering about in his old study, revising Tom Outland’s journals. The book takes a break at this point with Tom speaking in the first person about a magical season of discovering an ancient indigenous people’s village high up on a mesa in the Southwest, cataloging his discoveries. His partner stakes him the funds (gambling winnings) to visit Washington to recruit researchers to come, to no avail. He then returns, only to find his partner sold them out, resulting in their final alienation. Tom then migrates to the college where St. Peter is professor, works with a physics professor on his invention, graduating with a patent. Part three of the book returns to the professor, and a crisis in his life with which the book concludes.

The book is fraught with the tensions that are pulling at St. Peter’s life. There is the spartan life of the scholar (and of Tom on the mesa which St. Peter had visited) in contrast with the life of luxury that both Lillian and her elder daughter Rosamond craved, that St. Peter’s success and Marcellus’ business acumen made possible. There is the tension between the elder and younger daughter and their husbands, the younger of which, St. Peter trusts, despite, or perhaps because of his modest means. There is the growing coolness between Godfrey and Lillian as neither can embrace the life of the other. St. Peter’s stubborn hold on his study and his refusal to go to Paris, which he loves, is a kind of passive resistance after acceding to the life Lillian desires. Tom seems to represent something of an ideal that St. Peter had not had the courage to pursue.

The summer of the Paris vacation was a last respite before returning to his teaching and the comfortable life Lillian wanted (or perhaps the growing awareness of their estrangement). As their return approaches, he experiences a weariness for which the doctor can find no bodily cause, setting the stage for his final crisis.

The structure of the book seems disjointed, with the second part a separate narrative in which Tom Outland is the main character. The only thing I can think is that it explains St. Peter’s fixation with Tom by setting their lives in contrast. The question remains of how or whether St. Peter will resolve the tensions in his life, tensions such as all of us live with, tensions that can fray to the breaking or result in creative resolutions. ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 18, 2022 |
I read this long before I moved to Pittsburgh. Now that I live in Pittsburgh & I've heard that Cather also lived here at some point I'm even more interested in her. This bk was probably more subtle than bland but I remember it as the latter. I hope to read more by her so I can form a better opinion. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Not a review as such, but I have always had a strong but vague feeling that Paul Auster's Moon Palace is a reworking of The Professor's House, but I have never pursued the idea with any rigor nor have I checked to see if others have thought the same.

At any rate, the Cather is wonderful and Moon Palace is one of the few Auster novels that is wholly free from the Important Novel of Ideas strain that mars, however slightly, even very good Auster novels.

Both are terrific books. ( )
  HumphryClinker | Jun 30, 2021 |
The protagonist, The Professor, is someone we would normally warm up to quite quickly. He's an expert in his field, his books are celebrated, he still teaches students and he has a wife and two daughters who love him. So far so good. But we immediately meet him when he's being difficult and snapping at people. He's purchased a bigger house with proceeds from his books but he doesn't want to move his home office from a small attic room in the old house. He even goes so far as to rent the old house for a year so he doesn't have to move. It's down hill from there. He is feeling distant from his wife and he doesn't want to interact with his daughters' husbands.

Slowly we get hints of a back story. The Professor had an exceptional student, Tom Outland, who appeared on his doorstep and changed The Professor's world. It takes a while to learn about Tom but the Professor's wife thinks The Professor had hoped that Tom would marry his older daughter and believes that's why The Professor never warmed up to the man his daughter eventually married. Turns out Tom died in WWI and in his will leaves the daughter with the rights to a patent. The new husband turns the patent into a fortune. Yet the fortune leads to problems between the two daughter and even with another Professor who had helped Tom but now felt he was being excluded.

At this point the book focuses on Tom's history before coming to Hamilton and working with The Professor. It's based in New Mexico and the most interesting part of the book. This is where Cather writing truly sings. He's a selfless guy who discovers lost Indian cliff dwellings. He even tries unsuccessfully to get the Smithsonian interested. While he's in DC his partner sells off everything which leads to their splitting up. Throughout this Tom is the nice guy.

Back to the Professor. He finally realizes he happier without anyone, especially his wife and daughters but also his students. He's giving up on everything.

Bottom line, it's hard to recommend a book where the main character wants to go nowhere. I felt the book went nowhere. ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Mar 5, 2021 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Willa Catherautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Byatt, A.S.Introduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Link, Frederick M.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mitchell, SusanDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Sturman, Sally MaraAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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A turquoise set in silver, wasn't it?. . . Yes, a turquoise set in dull silver."
-Louie Marsellus
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The moving was over and done.
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That night, after he was in bed, St. Peter tried in vain to justify himself in his inevitable refusal. He liked Paris, and he liked Louie. But one couldn't do one's own things in another person's way; selfish or not, that was the truth.
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On the eve of his move to a new, more desirable residence, Professor Godfrey St Peter finds himself in the shabby study of his former home. Surrounded by the comforting, familiar sights of his past, he surveys his life and the people he has loved-his wife Lillian, his daughters, and Tom Outland, his most outstanding student and once, his son-in-law to be. Enigmatic and courageous-and a tragic victim of the Great War-Tom has remained a source of inspiration to the professor. But he has also left behind him a troubling legacy which has brought betrayal and fracture to the women he loves most.

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