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dirac

William Styron, RIP

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William Styron has died, age 81. His style was a little florid for me but I liked ‘The Confessions of Nat Turner.’

The book sold well all over the world. It won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 1970 William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. But as the social turmoil of 1968 mounted, a negative reaction set in. Influential black readers in particular began to question the novel’s merits, and Hollywood, reacting to the furor, decided against making a movie version. In August, some of the angrier criticisms were published in “William Styron’s Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond,” a book edited by the African history scholar John Henrik Clarke.

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William Styron has died, age 81. His style was a little florid for me but I liked ‘The Confessions of Nat Turner.’

"Florid" is a well chosen adjective. What can I say, when faced with the book as a Freshman in college, I was lost. Maybe a few semesters later I could have coped, but the profs were pushing it hard, it was still

book du jour (1969).

But later, Sophie's Choice engaged me.

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Charlie Rose replayed his interview with Styron tonight. I missed it and was unable to post when I glimpsed it, but if Charlie Rose reruns in the afternoon in your area, you might want to tune in on Monday.

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Thanks for the tip, carbro -- it was a good interview and I hadn't seen it before.

This piece in Slate focuses on Styron’s book on his experience with depression, ‘Darkness Visible.’

Styron disliked the term depression, calling it "a true wimp of a word for such a major illness." Nonetheless, it was this word—and illness—that came to define the last third of his life. Darkness Visible began as a talk Styron gave in 1989 at a symposium on affective disorders sponsored by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Later the same year, at the urging of Tina Brown, then the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, he published a longer version of the story in her magazine. In 1990, Random House published an expanded version of the essay as a book, and it became a national best seller.

Apparently Styron was devoting most of his time in later years to talking about depression and helping fellow sufferers. I knew he had done that kind of thing but didn’t realize the scope of his activities.

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