Existentialism as Portrayed in Stoner


Umi Nur Fadillah(1*)

(1) University of Jember
(*) Corresponding Author


The purpose of this study is to analyze a novel titled Stoner (1965) written by an American academic and author, John Williams. Stoner follows the life of William Stoner, a professor of English Literature. Stoner comes from an impoverished farming family with a unique existential ethics. He works his way to become a university instructor and learns the magnitude of passion in the success of life. This study uses Lucien Goldmann’s Genetic Structuralist theory. The goals of this research are: 1) to analyze the structure of the literary work; 2) to understand the historical background that influences the novel; and 3) to reveal the author’s world view. The study shows that John Williams captures an existential tradition belonging to American lower-class famers who lived around the late 19th century. Stoner also captures the transformation of the existential tradition following a social, economic, and political transition. Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus is used as a reference to explain the manifestation of the existential idea.


Existentialism; Mental Habit; Modification; Poverty; World View

Full Text:



Arinze, A. T., & Onwuatuegwu, I. N. (2020). The Notion of Absurdity and Meaning of Life in Albert Camus Existentialism. Open Journal of Philosophy, 10(1), 528–538. https://doi.org/10.4236/ojpp.2020.104037

Aronson, R. (2021, December 13). Albert Camus. Retrieved from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/camus/

Atack, J., Margo, R. A., & Rhode, P. W. (2022). Industrialization and urbanization in nineteenth century America. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2021.103678

Atmana, B., & Sumitro. (2020). Genetic Structuralism Analysis in “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee. Utopía y Praxis Latinoamericana, 25(1), 484–492. https://doi.org/:10.5281/zenodo.3784899

Azhar, I. (2013). A Critical Study of Existentialistic View of Education and Its Relevance to Human Existence and Progress (Dissertation). Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.

Baert, P. (2011). The sudden rise of French existentialism: A case-study in the sociology of intellectual life. Theory and Sociology, 40(6), 619–644. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-011-9154-4

Boustan, L. P., Bunten, D., & Hearey, O. (2013). Urbanization in The United Stated, 1800-2000. United States: NBER Working Paper Series.

Camus, A. (1965). The Myth of Sisyphus And Other Essays. Paris: H. Hamilton.

Clark, M. (2017). Listen to the Sound of the Quiet American: John Williams’s Stoner. Orbit: A Journal of American Literature, 5(2), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.16995/orbit.210

Cotkin, G. (2003). Existential America. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Cruickshank, J. (2022, October 6). Albert Camus. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica website: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Albert-Camus

Dimitri, C., Effland, A., & Conklin, N. (2005). The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy. Electronic Report from the Economic Research Service, 3, 1–13.

Dirt farmer. (2022). In Merriam Webster. America: Merriam Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dirt%20farmer

Edwards, E. E. (1940). American Agriculture-The First 300 Years. In Yearbook of Agriculture. Washington: The United States Department of Agriculture.

Faruk. (2012). Metode Penelitian Sastra: Sebuah Penjelajahan Awal. Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pelajar.

Gardner, B. L. (2009). American Agriculture in the Twentieth Century: How it flourished and what it cost. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Gloag, O. (2020). Albert Camus: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Goldmann, L. (1977). The Hidden God. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Goldmann, L., & Boelhower, W. (1980). Essays on Method in The Sociology of Literature. St. Louis: Telos Press.

Hambidge, G. (1940). Farmers in a Changing World—A Summary. In Yearbook of Agriculture. Washington: The United States Department of Agriculture.

Hasanah, A. A. (2022). Sociology of Literature as Approach in the Study of Religious Texts. Jurnal Bastra, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.36709/bastra.v7i2.80

Lezy, T. (2015). How Existentialism Affects Generic Tradition in the Fiction of John Williams (Dissertation). Universiteit Gent, Ghent.

López, M. M. (1996). Teaching Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Time as fracture in sonnets 18, 60 and 63. Sederi Yearbook of the Spanish and Portuguese Society For English Renaissance Studies, VII, 287–295.

Manav, S. (2013). The Myth of Sisyphus: A Philosophical Journey through the Realms of Absurd. The Labyrinth, 4(3), 126–132.

Mayrl, W. W. (1978). Genetic Structuralism and The Analysis of Social Consciousness. Theory and Society, 5(1), 19–44.

Raskin, R. (2001). Camus’s Critiques of Existentialism. Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy, 5, 156–165.

Rees, J. (2016). Industrialization and Urbanization in the United States, 1880–1929. Oxford Research Encyclopedias: American History. Oxford Research Encyclopedias: American History, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.327

Shields, C. J. (2018). The Man Who Wrote The Perfect Novel. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Simpson, D. (2022). Albert Camus (1913—1960). Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Philosophy website: https://iep.utm.edu/albert-camus/#SH9b

Veit, W. (2018). Existential Nihilism: The Only Really Serious Philosophical Problem. Journal of Camus Studies, 211–232.

Verhoef, A. H. (2014). Sisyphus, Happiness and Transcendence. South African Journal of Philosophy, 33(4), 537–546. https://doi.org/10.1080/02580136.2014.976757

Williams, J. (1965). Stoner. New York: The New York Review of Books.

Woolley, B. (1985). An Interview with John Williams.San Marcos: The Wittliff Collections.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/poetika.v10i2.76410

Article Metrics

Abstract views : 1690 | views : 1365


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Poetika: Jurnal Ilmu Sastra

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

ISSN 2503-4642 (online) | 2338-5383 (print)
Copyright © Poetika: Jurnal Ilmu Sastra under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

free web stats View My Stats