The Professor's House (1925)

The Professor's House (1925)

by Willa Cather

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Overview

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.

Willa Cather is among the most eminent female American authors. She is known for her depictions of U.S. prairie life in novels like O Pioneers, My Antonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Cather was born in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley but her family relocated to Nebraska in 1883 and she spent the rest of her childhood in Red Cloud, Nebraska. She insisted on attending college, so her family borrowed money so she could enrol at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While there she became a regular contributor to the Nebraska State Journal.

After failing to obtain a position at UNL, she moved to Pennsylvania, where she taught high school and worked for Home Monthly and McClure's Magazine. The latter publication serialized her first novel, Alexander's Bridge, which was heavily influenced by Henry James. For her novels she returned to the prairie for inspiration, and these works became popular and critical successes. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for One of Ours (1922).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781974042289
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 07/31/2017
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Born in Virginia, Willa Cather (1873-1948) moved with her family to Nebraska before she was ten, which later provided the setting for her best-known novels. The books O Pioneers! and My Antonia, especially, with their focus on immigrant life on the prairie, established Cather as a major American novelist.

Date of Birth:

December 7, 1873

Date of Death:

April 27, 1947

Place of Birth:

Winchester, Virginia

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

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Professor's House 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not the most accessible work to every generation of readers. It speaks to a very specific time in a person's life. Also, it should not be seen as apocrypha to Cather's other works and is worth owning because you will get to that point when you will want to re-read this story.
SheReadsNovels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather is an author I've heard a lot about but whose work I've never read until now. I should probably have started with her most famous book, My Antonia, but something drew me to this one, The Professor's House.The Professor of the title is Godfrey St Peter, a man in his fifties, around the same age as Willa Cather was when she wrote this novel. At the beginning of the book, St Peter and his wife are preparing to move into their new home. At the last minute the Professor decides that he doesn't want to give up his old house just yet, so that he can continue to work in his old study and spend some time alone with his memories.Most of the book revolves around St Peter reminiscing about his family and friends and coming to terms with the idea of leaving the past behind and embracing modern life. At the forefront of the Professor's thoughts is his former student Tom Outland, who had once been engaged to his daughter Rosamond. On his death in the First World War, Outland left everything he had to Rosamond - and this inheritance is causing trouble for the St Peter family.If you prefer books with a gripping plot and lots of action you'll want to avoid this one, as it was one of the slowest moving books I've ever read. I have to admit there were a few times during the first few chapters that I came close to abandoning it, but I kept reading because it was so well written. I would describe this as a calm, quiet, reflective book; one with such powerful, eloquent writing and beautiful imagery that it doesn't really matter that not much actually happens.The Professor's House is possibly a book I would appreciate more if I read it again when I'm older, as I found it difficult to identify with a fifty-two year old man looking back on his life. This was my first experience of Willa Cather and although I don't think she's going to be a favourite author, I will probably read more of her work at some point in the future.
Perednia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Odd but moving story. The mid-section about the Anasanzi ruins more affecting than the tale around it.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Godfrey St. Peter is a successful, published history professor. He is financially secure, with a loving wife and two married daughters. And yet, having built a new home for his family, he finds himself unable to leave the house where he has spent most of his adult life. His study, in particular, is filled with memories. After "officially" moving house, he quietly pays a year's rent on the old house, in order to enjoy both the study and his garden. He gradually withdraws from family life, even going so far as to spend Christmas Day at the old house, away from his extended family. He also comes to some stark conclusions about key figures in his life. His daughter Rosamond came into money after the death of her fiancee Tom Outland, her father's former student. Rosamond and her husband Louie live an extravagant lifestyle which St. Peter gradually finds more and more repugnant. Louie caters to St. Peter's wife, Lillian, who is too easily influenced by this attention. St. Peter spends considerable time reflecting on Tom Outland, evoking the satisfied feelings that come from having an impact on another person's life. As the novel progresses, St. Peter becomes more and more withdrawn from his family and yet also becomes more in touch with things that truly matter to him. Willa Cather's prose is beautifully descriptive, illuminating both the mid-western town where St. Peter lives, and the desert southwest of Tom Outland's youth. Her characters are richly developed; even the unlikeable ones are multifaceted and completely human. Cather's writing talents make The Professor's House an enjoyable novel.
Zmrzlina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful read that makes you consider how all ends are just the beginning of something new
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather' prose is beautiful in its simplicity. She uses restraint in "The Professor's House", a book about the harmful and corrosive effects of money and aging. It may be a book of more interest to middle-aged readers, but personally I enjoyed it. Some quotes, all of which speak to looking back at midlife:"...now they were not very young any more; they would neither of them, probably, ever hold a better position. Couldn't Langtry see it was a draw, that they had both been beaten"?"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"."The world was sad to St. Peter as he looked about him; the lake-shore country flat and heavy, Hamilton small and tight and airless. 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. Yes, it was possible that the little world, on its voyage among all the stars, might become like that; a boat on which one could travel no longer, from which one could no longer look up and confront those bright rings or revolution"."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". "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"."He did not regret his life, but he was indifferent to it. It seemed to him like the life of another person"."Happiness is something one can't explain. You must take my word for it. Troubles enough came afterward, but there was that summer, high and blue, a life in itself".
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm having a hard time deciding how to review The Professor's House. The plot itself is very straightforward and easy to describe. The characters are vivid and well-defined which adds to the realism of the novel. But it seems to me that the meat of this novel is in the themes and nuances.I have read some of Cather's short stories many years ago and only have vague memories of them other than a memory that she had exquisite attention to detail. As I read this book I found that memory to be true. The writing vibrantly presents minute details to the reader¿from the shape and texture of a hand to the nature of a dress or necklace to the depiction of setting both in and out of doors.Her characters are likewise detailed. We are held at a close third person so we don't actually get into the characters' heads, but the detailed account of appearance and action allows the reader to feel very intimate with the characters.The layout of the book is interesting in that it consists of three "books." The first book is entitled "The Family" and follows the Professor as he works to finish his own writing while teaching and balancing the various dramas unfolding in his life and the lives of his family members. The second book is "Tom Outland's Story" and is the first person narrative of Tom, an old student of the Professor and friend of the family who is now dead (from WWI) but left behind an invention and legacy that resulted in great wealth for one of the Professor's daughters. The final book is entitled "The Professor" and is a very short wrap up of the novel which focusses on thoughts, emotions and actions of the professor after he reads and ponders Outland's story.The overarching plot of the book is interesting if not terribly engaging. There were moments of drama and emotion that drew me in, but there were other segments that were almost boring with the mundane interactions. As I mentioned initially, the meat of the novel though isn't the plot itself, but the themes and emotions it instills. Looking to these themes, part of this book seems to be an exploration of emotional displacement and emotional paralysis or release. The Professor is very attached to his old house and his work and doesn't want to move into the new house with his family. Outland is almost a portrayal of a return to the past for the professor and in the end, Outland's story provides an almost existential release to the professor. The claustrophobia of the old house and the room in which the professor works serve as a metaphorical trap that is holding the professor hostage in his current/past life/behavior and causing emotional turmoil and angst from which he can't see a clear escape.At a higher, more sociological level, the novel portrays some interesting counterpoints on society. The Professor is doing well enough off teaching at the university and does even better once he receives an award for his writing. His two daughters are well enough off as well though one is moving into the "upper class" while the other is sitting fairly "middle." The family interactions and conversations give interesting insight into the class reactions of the era and some of the internal and external results of class mobility. As the professor's daughter and son-in-law gain their wealth and rise to a higher social status, there are jealousies and even some resentment and anger both within and outside of the family.Looking at the writing, it is clear that there are MANY levels at work in this novel. Cather's frequent use of color helps categorize different themes or values. Her descriptions of the houses, rooms and other settings set the balance between the different classes or social situations. To further illustrate that NOTHING appears to be arbitrary in this book, it was pointed out to me that there is particular significance in the name of the ship that Outland takes to the war, the name of the ship that the Professor's family returns home on, and even the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
theokester More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time deciding how to review <i>The Professor's House</i>. The plot itself is very straightforward and easy to describe. But it seems to me that the meat of this novel is in the themes and nuances. The writing vibrantly presents minute details to the reader.from the shape and texture of a hand to the nature of a dress or necklace to the depiction of setting both in and out of doors. Her characters are likewise detailed. We are held at a close third person so we don't actually get into the characters' heads, but the detailed account of appearance and action allows the reader to feel very intimate with the characters. The layout of the book is interesting in that it consists of three "books." The first book is entitled "The Family" and follows the Professor as he works to finish his own writing while teaching and balancing the various dramas unfolding in his life and the lives of his family members. The second book is "Tom Outland's Story" and is the first person narrative of Tom, an old student of the Professor and friend of the family who is now dead (from WWI) but left behind an invention and legacy that resulted in great wealth for one of the Professor's daughters. The final book is entitled "The Professor" and is a very short wrap up of the novel which focusses on thoughts, emotions and actions of the professor after he reads and ponders Outland's story. The overarching plot of the book is interesting if not terribly engaging. There were moments of drama and emotion that drew me in, but there were other segments that were almost boring with the mundane interactions. Looking to the themes, part of this book seems to be an exploration of emotional displacement and emotional paralysis or release. The Professor is very attached to his old house and his work and doesn't want to move into the new house with his family. Outland is almost a portrayal of a return to the past for the professor and in the end, Outland's story provides an almost existential release to the professor. The claustrophobia of the old house and the room in which the professor works serve as a metaphorical trap that is holding the professor hostage in his current/past life/behavior and causing emotional turmoil and angst from which he can't see a clear escape. At a higher, more sociological level, the novel portrays some interesting counterpoints on society. The Professor is doing well enough off teaching at the university and does even better once he receives an award for his writing. His two daughters are well enough off as well though one is moving into the "upper class" while the other is sitting fairly "middle." The family interactions and conversations give interesting insight into the class reactions of the era and some of the internal and external results of class mobility. As the professor's daughter and son-in-law gain their wealth and rise to a higher social status, there are jealousies and even some resentment and anger both within and outside of the family. Looking at the writing, it is clear that there are MANY levels at work in this novel. Cather's frequent use of color helps categorize different themes or values. Her descriptions of the houses, rooms and other settings set the balance between the different classes or social situations. So even though the book's plot isn't terribly engaging, it provides valuable ins
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the distinctive Cather tradition, this is a story of real people in a midwestern college town. Reminiscent of Chekov's tales of the Russian people, Miss Cather captures the spirit of life as it truly is. Your sense of these characters will remain with you long after you close the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found it very difficult to get through this novel. It drags, especially in the beginning. By the end, when it finally picks up speed, I just wanted the book to be over with. Willa Cather is a great writer, I loved O, Pioneers! and My Antonia, but this book leaves a lot to be wanted. I was disappointed.