The Professor’s House by Willa Cather (1925)

The Professor's House by Willa Cather - 1925 - cover

From the 1953 Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf edition of The Professor’s House by Willa Cather (1925): The Professor’s House by Willa Cather is a masterly study in introspection, telling the story of Godfrey St. Peter, a scholarly professor in a Middle Western university. He is passing through the critical, uneasy period between middle age and old age.

Reluctant to move into a new, more comfortable house, he remains in the old room he has been used to work in despite the protestations of his wife and daughters. The reader finds him a man in the middle fifties, a little dissatisfied and tired, but at the zenith of his intellectual powers — and follows him through a major emotional crisis and several smaller crises.

A major subplot in this richly patterned novel is supplied by Tom Outland, at one time engaged to be married to one of the professor’s daughters, involving Outland’s scientific investigations in the Southwest, among the Cliff-Dwellers.

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The professor's house by Willa Cather

The Professor’s House on Amazon

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Another of the leading characters is Marsellus, a young Jew married to the professor’s daughter to whom Outland had been engaged. But the unifying theme of the novel is the professor’s adjustment to a life that he sees as being “without joy, without passionate griefs.” It is through the complexities and simplicities of her art that Willa Cather makes her sympathy clear and living.

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