John Edward Williams
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John Edward Williams (August 29, 1922 - March 3, 1994) was an American author, editor and professor.
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- A necessary strategy of literary criticism is to propose problems, and a necessary illusion is that those problems can be solved. But the problems and solutions are more often than not celebrations of the literature they address and gestures that would bring us closer to a past that is forever receding from us. The force of literature is at last magical, and the mysteries that we try to solve are the validations of its power.
The Broken Landscape: Poems (1949)
- Do not tempt us with the poet's twisted pride.
Here is the double fact that we must grasp—
The sea is lonely and the land is wide.
- p. 28
- The class had read two plays by Shakespeare and was ending the week with a study of the sonnets. The students were edgy and puzzled, half frightened at the tension growing between themselves and the slouching figure that regarded them from behind the lectern. Sloane had read aloud to them the seventy-third sonnet; his eyes roved about the room and his lips tightened into a humorless smile. ...
... Someone coughed. Sloane turned his dark bright eyes upon Stoner. "Mr. Stoner, what does the sonnet mean?" ...
In a moment of silence, someone cleared his throat. Sloane repeated the lines ...
Sloane's eyes came back to William Stoner, and he said dryly, "Mr. Shakespeare speaks to you across three hundred years, Mr. Stoner, do you hear him?" ...
Stoner's eyes lifted slowly and reluctantly. "It means," he said, and with a small movement raised his hands up toward the air; he felt his eyes glaze over as they sought the figure of Archer Sloane. "It means," he said again, and could not finish what he had begun to say.
- Sometimes he stood in the center of the quad, looking at the five huge columns in front of Jesse Hall that thrust upward into the night out of the cool grass. ... Grayish silver in the moonlight, bare and pure, they seemed to him to represent the way of life he had embraced, as a temple represents a god.
- ... he could not bring himself to hate the Germans.
But the Germans were there to be hated.
- He went out of the office into the darkness of the long corridor and walked heavily into the sunlight, into the open world that was like a prison wherever he turned.