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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 Cather.The 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 unequaled by any writer in her generation Truly an national treasure.
(((FREE))) ☘ The Professor's House ✗ 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 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 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 life.The 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 D.C 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 temporary A 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. I ve recently started listening to a few reading book podcasts, now that I m almost two years into my own I ve grown quite 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 eloquently, 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 quite 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 adeeply impactful novel for me But I suspect this novel iscomplex 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, regardlessMy 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 picturesquely shipwrecked together when we were young and laterIt 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 himand later He did not regret his life, but he was indiffernt to it It seemed to him like the life of another person He 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 opinionsI 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 queer, 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 lifeIf 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 Pioneers.In 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 socializing.Within this story we also learn of a young man who is very influential on the entire St.Peter 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 tower.The 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 waslike 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 180 Cather also describes natural surroundings in St Peter s midwest setting the gardens, the colors of the changing seasons and changing skies and lakes.But most central is St Peter s changing sense of himself or perhaps his regaining his past sense of self This is a quiet novel There is no Virginia Woolf to be afraid of here There is introspection and discovery, remembrance of people and things lost.I 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 them.Highly recommendedP.S 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. Willa Cather pops the big question How do wekeep living when there s nothing to look forward to Midwest prof in his 50s has finished his book.With 2 married daughters, a bizee wife and thememory of a prized student killed in WW1, hescalpels his soul He knew that life is possible, may even bepleasant, without joy, without passionate griefs.But it had never occurred to him that he might haveto live like that. A beautifully written story with many undertones to it On the surface it appears a story of family life, quite mundane really but there are hidden depths here Wonderful characterisation of all the characters I felt not just Godfrey St Peter, even the periphery characters all had their time on the page.A gentle novel, but heartfelt and reflective. I would say that this is a very clean novel The characters are respectful, their dialogues are polished, and there s not a hint of any major mischief in the plot Professor Godfrey St Peter is fifty two He has two married daughters and a wife Lillian of many years He teaches and writes history books His family is financially secure, one of his daughters is even rich, having been the beneficiary of his St.Peter s former student s posthumous wealth from a gas related invention this former student, Tom Outland, died very young during the first world war.There are some minor tensions in several places mainly brought about by this gas money But one can see for himself that these can t possibly be unsolvable problems or things one can base a tragic novel on You would have preferred to see these come to some sort of a resolution, but Willa Cather probably fell asleep going towards the ending, woke up still lethargic, then decided to just let everything hang.Why do I like this novel very much Because I fortunately read it at the proper time A couple of yearsand I may see all of my children married too and no longer asking me for money They will have their own homes and one day, like Professor St Peter and his wife Lillian, me and my wife would be watching something here, the professor and his wife are watching a play and we ll also have an introspective moment like this When the curtain fell on the first act, St Peter turned to his wife A fine cast, don t you think And the harps are very good Except for the wood winds, I should say it was as good as any performance I ever heard at the Comique How it does make one think of Paris, and of so many half forgotten things his wife murmured It had been long since he had seen her face so relaxed and reflective and undetermined Through the next act he often glanced at her Curious, how a young mood could return and soften a face More than once he saw a starry moisture shine in her eyes If she only knew how muchlovely she was when she wasn t doing her duty 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 picturesquely shipwrecked together when we were young How often I ve thought that she replied with a faint, melancholy smile You But you re so occupied with the future, you adapt yourself so readily, he murmured in astonishment One must go on living, Godfrey But it wasn t the children who came between us There was something lonely and forgiving in her voice, something that spoke of an old wound, healed and hardened and hopeless You, you too he breathed in amazement He took up one of her gloves and began drawing it out through his fingers She said nothing, but she saw her lip quiver, and she turned away and began looking at the house through the glasses He likewise began to examine the audience He wished he knew just how it seemed to her He had been mistaken, he felt The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one s own Presently the melting music of the tenor s last aria brought their eyes together in a smile not altogether sad That night, after he was in bed, among unaccustomed surroundings and a little wakeful, St Peter still layed with his idea of a picturesque shipwreck, and he cast about for the particular occasion he would have chosen for such a finale Before he went to sleep he found the very day, but his wife was not in it Indeed, nobody was in it but himself, and a weather dried little sea captain from the Hautes Pyrenees, half a dozen spry seamen, and a line of gleaming snow peaks, agonizingly high and sharp, along the southern coast of Spain The heart of another is a dark forest, always could this be true And will there really be a time after you ve succeeded in every aspect of your ordinary life that all you d want to do is to get away from everyone who had been a part of you, even from your spouse or partner, like the one I have right there on the top left hand portion of this review He Professor St Peter loved his family, he would make any sacrifice for them, but just now he couldn t live with them He must be alone That wasnecessary to him than anything had ever been,necessary, even, than his marriage had been in his vehement youth He could not live with his family again not even with Lillian Especially not with Lillian Her nature was intense and positive it was like a chiselled surface, a die, a stamp upon which he could not be beaten out any longer If her character were reduced to an heraldic device, it would be a hand a beautiful hand holding flaming arrows the shafts of her violent loves and hates, her clear cut ambitions In great misfortunes, he told himself, people want to be alone They have a right to be And the misfortunes that occur within one are the greatest Surely the saddest thing in the world is falling out of love if once one has ever fallen in Will we, as we grow old, and as claim have been universally observed, go back to the young boys and girls we all had been Will we meet them again and embrace them, tightly, until we are them again Is this the common great misfortune those of us who will not die young shall suffer in the end St Peter had always laughed at people who talked about day dreams, just as he laughed at people who naively confessed that they had an imagination All his life his mind had behaved in a positive fashion When he was not at work, or being actively amused, he went to sleep He had no twilight stage But now he enjoyed this half awake loafing with his brain as if it were a new sense, arriving late, like wisdom teeth He found he could lie on his sand spit by the lake for hours and watch the seven motionless pines drink up the sun In the evening, after dinner, he could sit idle and watch the stars, with the same immobility He was cultivating a novel mental dissipation and enjoying a new friendship Tom Outland had not come back again through the garden door as he had so often done in dreams , but another boy had the boy the Professor had long ago left behind him in Kansas, in the Solomon Valley the original, unmodified Godfrey St Peter This boy and he had meant, back in those far away days, to live some sort of life together and to share good and bad fortune They had not shared together, for the reason that they were unevenly matched The young St Peter who went to France to try his luck, had aactive mind than the twin he left behind in the Solomon Valley After his adoption into the Thierault household, he remembered that other boy very rarely, in moments of home sickness After he met Lillian Ornsley, St Peter forgot that boy had ever lived But now that the vivid consciousness of an earlier state had come back to him, the Professor felt that life with this Kansas boy, little as there had been of it, was the realest of his lives, and that all the years between had been accidental and ordered from the outside His career, his wife, his family, were not his life at all, but a chain of events which had happened to him All these things had nothing to do with the person he was in the beginning The man he was now, the personality his friends knew, had begun to grow strong during adolescence, during the years when he was always consciously or unconsciously conjugating the verb to love in society and solitude, with people, with books, with the sky and open country, in the lonesomeness of crowded city streets When he met Lillian, it reached its maturity From that time to this, existence had been a catching at handholds One thing led to another and one development brought on another, and the design of his life had been the work of this secondary social man, the lover It had been shaped by all the penalties and responsibilities of being and having been a lover Because there was Lillian, there must be marriage and a salary Because there was marriage, there were children Because there were children, and fervour in the blood and brain, books were born as well as daughters His histories, he was convinced, had noto do with his original ego than his daughters had they were a result of the high pressure of young manhood The Kansas boy who had come back to St Peter this summer was not a scholar He was a primitive He was only interested in earth and woods and water Wherever sun sunned and rain rained and snow snowed, wherever life sprouted and decayed, places were alike to him He was not nearly so cultivated as Tom s old cliff dwellers must have been and yet he was terribly wise He seemed to be at the root of the matter Desire under all desires, Truth under all truths He seemed to know, among other things, that he was solitary and must always be so he had never married, never been a father He was earth, and would return to earth When white clouds blew over the lake like bellying sails, when the seven pine trees turned red in the declining sun, he felt satisfaction and said to himself merely That is right Coming upon a curly root that thrust itself across his path, he said That is it When the maple leaves along the street began to turn yellow and waxy, and were soft to the touch, like the skin on old faces, he said That is true it is time All these recognitions gave him a kind of sad pleasure When he was not dumbly, deeply recognizing, he was bringing up out of himself long forgotten, memories of his early childhood, of his mother, his father, his grandfather His grandfather, old Napoleon Godfrey, used to go about lost in profound, continuous meditation, sometimes chuckling to himself Occasionally, at the family dinner table, the old man would try to rouse himself, from motives of politeness, and would ask some kindly question nearly always absurd and often the same one he had asked yesterday The boys used to shout with laughter and wonder what profound matters could require such deep meditation, and make a man speak so foolishly about what was going on under his very eyes St Peter thought he was beginning to understand what the old man had been thinking about, though he himself was but fifty two, and Napoleon had been well on his eighties There are only a few years, at the last, in which man can consider his estate, and he thought he might be quite as near the end of his road as his grandfather had been in those days The Professor knew, of course, that adolescence grafted a new creature into the original one, and that the complexion of a man s life was largely determined by how well or ill his original self and his nature as modified by sex rubbed on together What he had not known was that, at a given time, that first nature could return to a man, unchanged by all the pursuits and passions and experiences of his life untouched even by the tastes and intellectual activities which have been strong enough to give him distinction among his fellows and to have made for him, as they say, a name in the world Perhaps this reversion did not often occur, but he knew it had happened to him, and he suspected it had happened to his grandfather He did not regret his life, but he was indifferent to it It seemed to him like the life of another person Along with other states of mind which attended his realization of the boy Godfrey, came a conviction he did not see it coming, it was there before he was aware of its approach that he was nearing the end of his life Ah, let us all grow old Then, we will know if this story is true. The Professor s House foi publicado em 1925, quando Willa Cather tinha acabado de passar os 50, idade relevante pela tem tica de fundo escolhida a crise existencial de meia idade O livro, como indica o t tulo, foca se num professor universit rio, no topo da carreira, resignado pela falta de objetivos, passando os seus dias a rememorar um passado que n o volta N o tem, nem de perto, a acuidade psicol gica de Stoner 1965 de John Williams, mas o modo como Cather desenrola os personagens e as suas tramas, em tempos diferentes e provoca a intersec o entre mundos aparentemente desconexos, acaba gerando uma reflex o rica e imensamente desafiante.O in cio da obra come a de um modo algo lento, com personagens pedantes, pouco atrativos, mas vai se tornando familiar, at que na segunda parte muda completamente de registo O segundo momento preenchido por um texto que come ou por ser um conto e Cather depois transformou neste livro Quando descobri o processo de constru o do livro, fiquei reticente quanto sua leitura, j que me soava a aproveitamento e potencial extens o artificial do mesmo Contudo o facto de se tratar de um campus novel, g nero que me interessa particularmente, acabou fazendo com que o lesse E assim, iniciado esse segundo momento, senti inicialmente que n o fazia qualquer sentido, que era um rasgo completamente ao lado Mas o texto vai evoluindo, o personagem vai se mostrando e dando, e vamos compreendendo o que est Cather a tentar fazer No momento em que ligamos aquilo que parecem ser duas hist rias diferentes, a leitura eleva se, algo que ainda mais enfatizado pela terceira parte, a final do livro.N o vou detalhar nada do que acontece, menos ainda da experi ncia, j que os sentimentos proporcionados me tocaram de forma bastante pessoal e profunda, algo que n o tenho interesse em discutir aqui de forma p blica Contudo, conto voltar ao livro num outro texto a prop sito da compara o entre o sistema universit rio em 1925 e hoje.Publicado no VI I actually read this before I have a habit of re reading books I like during the summer Why Who knows I read this for a grad class on Cather and it blew me away Strangely intense little book At first, it doesn t seem to be about much, but it s worth a close reading.Her best known books O Pioneers, My Antonia aren t really her best They are often taught at the high school level, and I think people often think of her as slight But some of her books, like The Professor s House, pack a real intellectual punch.Highly recommended.