The Professor’s House

It’s been hard for me to concentrate these days, so it feels quite lovely whenever a book pulls me in and lets me focus. The Professor’s House did just that–from the very beginning I was transfixed. Maybe it’s because it’s a novel about moving and resistance to moving, writing academic books and resistance to academics, love and its loss. It could also be because I’ve been reading so many “mid-life memoirs” these days and this book hit in that kinda way, although certainly it could be argued that St. Peter is at the end rather than the middle of his life. Missing the midwest, I could be drawn to this book because of the way it talks about lakes and trips to Chicago.

It’s a novel about making new worlds (slowly, over time), about the great happiness of being at one with the world (which can’t possibly last), and exhaustion. It’s hard to evoke exhaustion and make it beautiful but Cather pulls it off:

“And now I seem to be tremendously tired. One pays, coming or going. A man has got only just so much in him; when it’s gone he slumps” (143).

Having read oh-so-many nineteenth-century novels of development, it’s incredibly comforting to read novels about slumps and finite resources.

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