It is tempting to think that this is an academic novel with all its trials and tribulations, but it is not that either. It is a much more tender thing. It is a novel based essentially on disappointment, because Stoner has a rotten marriage and a terrible time academically. But he carries on and develops an intense affection for his now much more modest life. It is a story of intellectual determination and the ability of a man to find love simply in what he does. It is a book about love of learning.
— Simon Winchester on John Williams’s Stoner, in an article on five American novels that shed light on the Great Depression from The Browser.