The Professor's House

The Professor's House✈ [PDF / Epub] ✅ The Professor's House By Willa Cather ✸ – Alternate Cover Edition for ISBN13 9780679731801On the eve of his move to a new desirable residence Professor Godfrey St Peter finds himself in the shabby study of his former home Surrounded by the co Alternate Cover Edition for ISBN On the eve of his move to a new 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 The Professor's Kindle - 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. Professor St Peter and his family are finally moving to the new house after the success of the professor’s historical books on Spanish explorers But when the time comes to abandon his old rather uncomfortable and chilly office St Peter can’t stand the thought and so he decides to continue working there bringing back uncalled memories revolving around Tom Outland a mysterious but highly talented student of his who broadened his horizons but also his family’s Willa Cather embodies the wild beauty of the landscape and the proud honor of the American pioneers in the figure of Tom Outland uite a symbolic surname indeed a man devoted to the old world and its traditions Even though his outline is never clear cut but rather hazy sort of dilluted in the professor’s recollections he arises as the real protagonist of this unusual storyMy main issue with the novel is the fragile and conformist attitude in which Cather draws St Peter He is presented as a passive actor a middle aged man who has definitely lost his zest for life and the love for his family His thoughts move slowly even with reluctance and his grey mood is transmitted to the readerThere are sections of undeniable literary uality that brought me back to the magnificence of “The Song of the Lark” but they are sporadic and fragmented undermined by the shady tone of a narrator who has lost his spirit in the obscure remembrances of a glorified past Regretfully not the novel I would recommend to get acuainted with Cather’s works This popular Cather novel has a slightly different feel than her other novels Godfrey St Peter the professor has a cynical outlook on his future his relationship with his wife his two married daughters and their husbands and especially the new house they are moving into St Peter wants his old house his old study and his memories Especially the memories of his old student and friend Tom Outland The middle section of the book about Outland's earlier life in the American west was perfect CatherThe beauty of Cather's novels is in her writing and her characters She captured a time and a slice of American life and history that is uneualed by any writer in her generation Truly an national treasure I can't believe I hadn't read this before Such a wonderful American classic which explores themes of perception greed really well I can't remember and that's not saying much as my memory's not what it used to be the last time I dithered so long before writing a review Perhaps it's because I ended up strongly identifying with the professor who is the same age as I am No I don't have the issues with my spouse or my adult offspring that he does but there are other things that can make one feel distant and drained even temporarily at such a time in lifeThe title notwithstanding this book could also be called Outland that would make it sound sci fi though wouldn't it the surname of the young man at the literal center of the book a young man who through not much fault of his own has influenced the lives of all the characters for good or for bad Though I prefer those in The Song of the Lark Cather's descriptions of the mesas and cliff dwellings in the Southwest shine These are healing places and in stark contrast to ineffective even debilitating urban areas Outland's futile excursion into post WWI DC not only illustrates the latter but points out to us today that nothing has changed in the political arena To paraphrase a movie title Mr Smith hasn't gone to Washington yet; but when he does we know his positive effect can only be temporaryA transformative scene near the end reminds me of an episode with a similar purpose near the end of Bleak House Cather not only excels with her sense of place in terms of character she excels at getting to the heart soul and mind of her professor Published in 1925 The Professor’s House is Willa Cather’s seventh book Compared to the Great Plains Trilogy written between 1913 and 1918 it is a less satisfying read for me Cather’s prose retained its spare clear and vivid uality It was at its finest when it was applied to capturing a sense of place or a state of mind This novel about the emotional dislocation of a middle aged professor and his growing estrangement from his wife and family had a sadness hanging like a damp cloud that refused to liftThis is the story of Godfrey St Peter a History Professor who has gained recognition for his research and writing on the Spanish Adventures A few volumes energized with input of substance from an outstanding graduate student Tom Outland won the prestigious Oxford prize for history and money that paid for a new house However he has no desire to live in it even though it is befitting his stature Godfrey continues to spend his days in the old ugly house laboring over his writing in the spartan study He is content with a life of simplicity and frugality view spoilerOther circumstances linked to Tom’s untimely death paved the way to greater riches for one of Godfrey’s daughters who was engaged to Tom hide spoiler I've recently started listening to a few readingbook podcasts now that I'm almost two years into my own I've grown uite fond of The Readers and Books on the Nightstand and the four hosts of the two shows have some interaction They will all be at Booktopia this month and each of them picked a favorite book to discuss that will hopefully also turn into a podcast episode for those of us not at the event This was one of the books mentioned selected by Thomas from The Readers It's funny how books or authors come back around because one reading friend mentioned Willa Cather after I waxed elouently I'm sure on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her effect on my childhood This novel follows a professor in the midwest as far as I can tell an unnamed state but one that must be near Lake Michigan Two of the three sections of the novel are about him his family their recent fortunes and his writing space in the older home which he refuses to leave The other section the one in the middle is the story of Tom a student of his who died young and left money to his daughter allowing her to live uite comfortably with her new husband I may have rated this a full five stars had I not so recently read Stoner by John Williams which is just a deeply impactful novel for me But I suspect this novel is complex than it seems on the surface I wonder about the relationship between the professor and Tom; at some point he mentions plans they were making together that seemed like lovers' plans How would a novel from 1925 treat such a topic except for with great delicacy and vague mentions? The midwest is not satisfactorily written as a place anyone would want to live but the professor and his family are clearly in their home there The professor's wife is very much enjoying her new status and comforts of having a rich son in law and daughter and the professor is being left pretty much alone in his old house as he wishes He feels he has worn out all the newness of life regardless 'My dear; he sighed when the lights were turned on and they both looked older 'it's been a mistake our having a family and writing histories and getting middle aged We should have been picturesuely shipwrecked together when we were young'and later It's not wholly a matter of the calendar It's the feeling that I've put a great deal behind me where I can't go back to it again and I don't really wish to go back The way would be too long and too fatiguing Perhaps for a home staying man I've lived pretty hard I wasn't willing to slight anything you or my desk or my students And now I seem to be tremendously tired A man has got only just so much in him and later He did not regret his life but he was indiffernt to it It seemed to him like the life of another personHe also isn't much of a fan of his family his wife as she acclimates to her new role his daughters as they grow up with their own opinions I was thinking about Euripedes; how when he was an old man he went and lived in a cave by the sea and it was thought ueer at the time It seems that houses had become insupportable to him I wonder whether it was because he had observed women so closely all his life If the midwest seems boring it might only be in contrast to Cather's descriptions of the landscape of New Mexico That is the backdrop and a character to Tom's story of cattle driving archaeology and museum capers Discussed on Episode 042 of the Reading Envy Podcast Willa Cather has moved into my group of favorite authors those who create characters and worlds that are consistently intriguing human interesting in the best sense of the word and real She also writes in a way that is both simple and beautiful The Professor's House is my third of her books after Death Comes for the Archbishop and recently O PioneersIn this novel the titled Professor is actually conflicted caught between two worlds that of his old house with the study he has used to write books for years and his new house largely designed by his wife and a great step up The differences between the two are signs of the growing discomfort in St Peter's life his occasional discomfort with his eldest daughter his wonderment at his wife his increased love of playing hookey from his regular life of teaching and socializingWithin this story we also learn of a young man who is very influential on the entire StPeter clan Tom Outland a man who died too young during WWI He's almost mythic to some and is awarded his own section to narrate some of his own history especially his time on the mesas of New Mexico Far up above me a thousand feet or so set in a great cavern in the face of a cliff I saw a little city of stone asleep It was as still as sculpture and something like that It all hung together seemed to have a kind of composition pale little houses of stone nestling close to one another perched on top of each other with flat roofs narrow windows straight walls and in the middle of the group a round towerThe village sat looking down into the canyon with the calmness of eternity The falling snow flakes sprinkling the pinons gave it a special kind of solemnity I can't describe it It was like sculpture than anything else I knew at once that I had come upon the city of some extinct civilization hidden away in this inaccessible meas for centuries preserved in the dry air and almost perpetual sunlight like a fly in amber guarded by the cliffs and the river and the desert pp179 180Cather also describes natural surroundings in St Peter's midwest setting the gardens the colors of the changing seasons and changing skies and lakesBut most central is St Peter's changing sense of himself or perhaps his regaining his past sense of self This is a uiet novel There is no Virginia Woolf to be afraid of here There is introspection and discovery remembrance of people and things lostI've now decided that I will try to read everything that Cather has written I have several on hand and will gradually make my way through themHighly recommendedPS Anyone who has visited the Southwest even in these modern times has probably had a touch of the experience written by Cather for Tom when seeing cliff dwellings Even with tourists swarming they are something other Professor Godfrey St Peter's family is moving to a larger and beautiful home in the midwestern university town of Hamilton It is a home reflective of St Peter's status and accomplishments but it is not what he wantsThis move causes the professor to reflect on his past and contemplate his future Is he happy? The university his new house his old house everything around him seemed insupportable as the boat on which he is imprisoned seems to a sea sick man Freuently throughout his musings we are told of the church bell tolling A symbol of his life passing or an awakening?Buried in his memories are recollections of his former student Tom OutlandBook II is told by Tom Outland He tells of his time in New Mexico and his discovery of ancient cliff dwellings I found this book fascinating and much faster paced Not only did this section allow me to know this mysterious man but I gained understanding as to why he is so pivotal to the whole book I again felt Cather's love of this geographical area Her descriptions of New Mexico are beautiful And the air my God what air Soft tingling gold but with an edge of chill on it full of the smell of pinions it was like breathing the sun breathing the color of the skyThis is the 4th or 5th Cather book I have read I will continue to read any others I love her style The subtle humor which seems to be in many books written a century ago caused me to smile if not chuckle often Written in 1925 it has remained relevant for nearly 100 years How many highly lauded books of today will be read for that long?Other uotes I likedabout the nose of his son in law It was not at all an unpleasing feature but it grew out of his face with masterful strength well rooted like a vigorous oak tree growing out of a hillsideHis round pink cheeks and round eyes and round chin made him rather look like a baby grown big All these years had made little difference except that his curls were now uite grey his rosy cheeks even rosier and his mouth drooped a little at the corners so that he looked like a baby suddenly grown old and rather cross about it “This book is a mess” is the thought that popped into my head on completion of the bookOn the other hand it does have some good lines Cather writes best when describing a landscape a place a natural phenomenon She aces when describing the American Southwest She draws a person’s appearance with finesse too In this novel the middle section has the feel of a separate story In fact it was the first part written and was a short story It is entitled “Tom Outland’s Story” In this part Tom speaks of his past Here the writing is fluid This section is good As one might guess it is set on a mesa in the Southwest It is about the discovery of ancient cliff dweller communities in New Mexico The problem is that later Cather clamped on another story to the first She split the second story in half set the first half at the beginning the second half at the end with the original short story sandwiched in the middle In the clamped on parts Tom is dead but idolized by the characters of the second story The whole is unwieldy It does not hold together properly One might argue that the middle section is to be viewed as a flashback but it just does not work The different sections divide rather than pull the story together Looking at the novel as a whole what is it saying? What is its point? It’s a story of a man’s mid life crisis Both the characters and the themes pull the reader in different directions The author does not successfully draw the themes together Neither is it made clear what Cather is trying to say The conclusions one draws will depend upon a reader’s own way of looking at life One can argue this way or that because the book itself lacks conclusive guidelines I want to believe Cather is criticizing a money oriented society I want to believe she is speaking out for the rights of indigenous people I presume she favors the preservation of a land’s natural physical historical and cultural resources The problem is you can argue each issue in diametrically opposed ways Is she saying the elderly must cede to the young? Academics and workers which group should be favored? How does one best promote a productive healthy society? In a way Cather is voicing antisemitic views One is pushed to ask her view of homosexuality She hints but fails to speak clearly All of these issues are touched upon but a reader has difficulty pinpointing what exactly Cather is saying This lack of clarity gives me trouble Rather than egging a reader to consider these issues she leaves the reader hanging in midair I could cite point after point where turns are taken and then dropped Why was the professor so attached to the seamstress’ sewing manneuins? This was a dead end The connection between Tom’s interest in cliff dwellers’ habitation and his work related to the “Outland vacuum” don’t fit Is this the same person? Yes it is but it doesn’t make sense The book is full of loose ends and unresolved issues For me it’s a mess; it would have been better had Cather simply left “Tom Outland’s Story” aloneI am giving the book two rather than one star because I like Tom’s story As always Cather has good descriptive lines Sean Runnette narrates the audiobook The central character the guy going through his midlife crisis is sad depressed and despondent Runnette does succeed in capturing his mood but it is such a drag to listen to I could follow the story so I am willing to give the narration performance two stars My Ántonia 5 starsDeath Comes for the Archbishop 4 starsOne of Ours 4 starsThe Song of the Lark4 starsShadows on the Rock 3 starsLucy Gayheart 3 starsO Pioneers 3 starsSapphira and the Slave Girl 2 starsA Lost Lady 2 starsThe Professor's House 2 starsAlexander's Bridge TBRMy Mortal Enemy TBR Willa Cather pops the big uestion How do wekeep living when there's nothing to look forward to?Midwest prof in his 50s has finished his bookWith 2 married daughters a bizee wife and thememory of a prized student killed in WW1 hescalpels his soulHe knew that life is possible may even bepleasant without joy without passionate griefsBut it had never occurred to him that he might haveto live like that