William Styron

William Styron, 1925–2006, American novelist, b. Newport News, Va., grad. Duke, 1947. His fiction is often powerful, deeply felt, poetic, and elegiac. He became well known for his novel The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967; Pulitzer Prize), a fictional recreation of the 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia led by Nat Turner. Because Styron's account does not strictly adhere to historical fact and because he was a white man depicting a black man's experiences, the novel elicited harsh criticism, especially from black intellectuals. Styron's other novels include Lie Down in Darkness (1951), Set This House on Fire (1960), and the best-selling Sophie's Choice (1979; film, 1982), the post–World War II tale of a Polish emigré living in Brooklyn, N.Y., and struggling with her haunting history as an Auschwitz survivor. Styron also wrote short stories, novellas, a screenplay, and a play. Many of his essays, reviews, and occasional pieces were collected in This Quiet Dust and Other Writings (1982) and a group of his mainly autobiographical essays were assembled in the posthumously published Havanas in Camelot (2008). Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990) describes Styron's harrowing 1980s bout with clinical depression, and A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth (1993) is a trilogy of autobiographical novellas.

See Conversations with William Styron (1985), ed. by J. L. W. West 3d; Selected Letters of William Styron (2012), ed. by R. Styron (his wife); biography by J. L. W. West 3d (1998); studies by M. J. Friedman (1974), R. K. Morries and I. Malin, ed. (2d ed. 1981), A. D. Casciato and J. L. W. West 3d, ed. (1982), J. K. Crane (1985), J. Ruderman (1987), S. L. Murthy (1988), S. Coale (1991), G. Cologne-Brookes (1995), E. Herion-Sarafidis (1995), and D. W. Ross, ed. (1995).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

William Styron
Melvin J. Friedman.
Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1974
The Critical Response to William Styron
Daniel W. Ross.
Greenwood Press, 1995
Neo-Slave Narratives: Studies in the Social Logic of a Literary Form
Ashraf H. A. Rushdy.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Discourse Mobilized: The Debate over William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner"
Shriven Selves; Religious Problems in Recent American Fiction
Wesley A. Kort.
Augsburg Fortress Press, 1972
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Confessions of Nat Turner and the Dynamic of Revolution"
Criticism and the Color Line: Desegregating American Literary Studies
Henry B. Wonham.
Rutgers University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "White and Gray: William Styron's Confessions of Nat Turner" begins on p. 70
Between Two Worlds: The American Novel in the 1960's
Sanford Pinsker.
Whitston, 1980
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Christ as Revolutionary/Revolutionary as Christ: The Hero in Bernard Malamud's The Fixer and William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner"
"Things I Don't Want to Find out About": The Primal Scene in "The Confessions of Nat Turner." (Novel by William Styron)
Ross, Daniel W.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 39, No. 1, Spring 1993
Holocaust Fiction
Sue Vice.
Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Melodrama: William Styron, Sophie's Choice"
Insanity as Redemption in Contemporary American Fiction: Inmates Running the Asylum
Barbara Tepa Lupack.
University Press of Florida, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "When Dark Gods Prey: Sophie's Choice"
Sexual Politics and Confessional Testimony in Sophie's Choice
Carstens, Lisa.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 47, No. 3, Fall 2001
War and Peace: Perspectives in the Nuclear Age
Ulrich Goebel; Otto Nelson.
Texas Tech University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: "Looking down the Barrel of Your Own Gun: William Styron on the Cessation of Warfare" begins on p. 97
The Art of Southern Fiction: A Study of Some Modern Novelists
Frederick J. Hoffman.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1967
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "William Styron: The Metaphysical Hurt"
Twentieth-Century American Literary Naturalism: An Interpretation
Donald Pizer.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1982
Librarian’s tip: "William Styron: Lie Down in Darkness" begins on p. 115
Fifty Southern Writers after 1900: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Joseph M. Flora; Robert Bain.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "William Styron" begins on p. 444
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