Sophie's Choice

      William Styron
Sophie's Choice

“Styron’s most impressive performance. . . . Belongs on that small shelf reserved for American masterpieces.” —*Washington Post Book World*

Winner of the 1980 National Book Award, Sophie’s Choice is William Styron’s classic novel of love, survival, and regret, set in Brooklyn in the wake of the Second World War. The novel centers on three characters: Stingo, a sexually frustrated aspiring novelist; Nathan, his charismatic but violent Jewish neighbor; and Sophie, an Auschwitz survivor who is Nathan’s lover. Their entanglement in one another’s lives will build to a stirring revelation of agonizing secrets that will change them forever.

Poetic in its execution, and epic in its emotional sweep, Sophie’s Choice explores the good and evil of humanity through Stingo’s burgeoning worldliness, Nathan’s volatile personality, and Sophie’s tragic past. Mixing elements from Styron’s own experience with themes of the Holocaust and the history of slavery in the American South, the novel is a profound and haunting human drama. The result is Styron at the pinnacle of his literary brilliance.

This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives. 

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    Selected Letters of William Styron

      William Styron
Selected Letters of William Styron

In 1950, at the age of twenty-four, William Clark Styron, Jr., wrote to his mentor, Professor William Blackburn of Duke University. The young writer was struggling with his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, and he was nervous about whether his “strain and toil” would amount to anything. “When I mature and broaden,” Styron told Blackburn, “I expect to use the language on as exalted and elevated a level as I can sustain. I believe that a writer should accommodate language to his own peculiar personality, and mine wants to use great words, evocative words, when the situation demands them.”

In February 1952, Styron was awarded the Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which crowned him a literary star. In Europe, Styron met and married Rose Burgunder, and found himself immersed in a new generation of expatriate writers. His relationships with George Plimpton and Peter Matthiessen culminated in Styron introducing the debut issue of The Paris Review. Literary critic Alfred Kazin described him as one of the postwar “super-egotists” who helped transform American letters.

His controversial The Confessions of Nat Turner won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize, while Sophie’s Choice was awarded the 1980 National Book Award, and Darkness Visible, Styron’s groundbreaking recounting of his ordeal with depression, was not only a literary triumph, but became a landmark in the field.

Part and parcel of Styron’s literary ascendance were his friendships with Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, John and Jackie Kennedy, Arthur Miller, James Jones, Carlos Fuentes, Wallace Stegner, Robert Penn Warren, Philip Roth, C. Vann Woodward, and many of the other leading writers and intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century.

This incredible volume takes readers on an American journey from FDR to George W. Bush through the trenchant observations of one of the country’s greatest writers. Not only will readers take pleasure in William Styron’s correspondence with and commentary about the people and events that made the past century such a momentous and transformative time, they will also share the writer’s private meditations on the very art of writing.

Advance praise for Selected Letters of William Styron

“I first encountered Bill Styron when, at twenty, I read
The Confessions of Nat Turner*. Hillary and I became friends with Bill and Rose early in my presidency, but I continued to read him, fascinated by the man and his work, his triumphs and troubles, the brilliant lights and dark corners of his amazing mind. These letters, carefully and lovingly selected by Rose, offer real insight into both the great writer and the good man.”—President Bill Clinton

“The Bill Styron revealed in these letters is altogether the Bill Styron who was a dear friend and esteemed colleague to me for close to fifty years. The humor, the generosity, the loyalty, the self-awareness, the commitment to literature, the openness, the candor about matters closest to him—all are on display in this superb selection of his correspondence. The directness in the artful sentences is such that I felt his beguiling presence all the while that I was enjoying one letter after another.”—Philip Roth

“Bill Styron’s letters were never envisioned, far less composed, as part of the Styron oeuvre, yet that is what they turn out to be. Brilliant, passionate, eloquent, insightful, moving, dirty-minded, indignant, and hilarious, they accumulate power in the reading, becoming in themselves a work of literature.”—Peter Matthiessen

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    A Tidewater Morning

      William Styron
A Tidewater Morning

In this brilliant collection of 'long short stories', the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his first novels. Through the eyes of a man recollecting three episodes from his youth, William Styron explores with new eloquence death, loss, war and racism.

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    My Generation: Collected Nonfiction

      William Styron
My Generation: Collected Nonfiction

A vital, illuminating collection of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner’s elegant, passionately engaged nonfiction

My Generation is the definitive gathering of William Styron’s nonfiction, exposing the core of this greatly gifted, highly convivial, and profoundly serious artist from his literary emergence in the 1950s to his death in 2006.

Here are fifty years of Styron’s essays, memoirs, reviews, op-eds, articles, eulogies, and speeches, reflecting the same brilliant style and informed thinking that he brought to his towering fiction and to a deeply committed public life. Including many newly collected and never-before-published items, this compendium ranges from the original mission statement of The Paris Review, which Styron helped found in 1953, to a 2001 tribute to his friend Philip Roth—creating an essential overview of arts and letters during the post–World War II years.

In these pages, Styron writes vividly of childhood days in Tidewater Virginia spent going to movies, not reading books. (“It does not mean the death of literacy or creativity if one is drenched in popular culture at an early age.”) He recalls being among the group of soldiers who would have been sent to invade Japan and were saved by Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb, which Styron feels was the right choice, “even though its absolute rightness can never be proved.” And he writes as few others have about midlife battles with clinical depression, “a pain that is all but indescribable, and therefore to everyone but the sufferer almost meaningless.”

Here, too, are Styron’s personal encounters with world leaders, fellow authors, and friends, each of whom comes memorably to life. Styron recalls sharing contraband Cuban cigars with JFK (“a naughty memento, a conversation piece with a touch of scandal”), getting lost in the snow with Robert Penn Warren, and party-hopping with the young James Jones (an experience he likens to “keeping company with a Roman emperor”). The beginnings of his masterpieces The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice are chronicled here, along with the controversy that greeted the former upon its 1967 publication. Throughout, Styron celebrates the men and women of his generation, whose lives were forged in the crucible of World War II.

Whether he’s recounting a walk with his dog, musing on the Modern Library’s list of the hundred best English-language novels of the twentieth century, or contemplating America’s fraught racial legacy from his point of view as the grandson of a woman who owned slaves, William Styron writes always in urgent, finely calibrated prose. These fascinating pieces bring readers closer to this great writer and the world he observed, interacted with, and changed.

Praise for My Generation
 *

“William Styron’s
My Generation: Collected Nonfiction is both unsurpassably charming and unflinchingly honest, whether recounting the fallout from The Confessions of Nat Turner* or reminiscing about the slave-owning grandmother who warned him never to forget he was a Southerner.”
Vogue
 *

“At its most accomplished, Styron’s non-fiction mixes a conscientious, richly traditional prose style with a strong current of fellow feeling, a certain awe at the human condition, which is what gives power to his best fiction. . . . Styron stood tall in his generation, and the best of him will stand up over time.”—*USA Today
 *

“A must for every Styron fan’s library.”
—BBC
*

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    The Suicide Run: Five Tales of the Marine Corps

      William Styron
The Suicide Run: Five Tales of the Marine Corps

The Suicide Run collects five of William Styron’s meticulously rendered narratives based on his real-life experiences as a U.S. Marine. In “Blankenship,” Styron draws on his stint as a guard at a stateside military prison at the end of World War II. “Marriott, the Marine” and “The Suicide Run”—which Styron composed as part of an intended novel that he set aside to write Sophie’s Choice—depict the surreal experience of being conscripted a second time, after World War II, to serve in the Korean War. “My Father’s House” captures the frustration of a soldier trying to become a civilian again. In “Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco,” a soldier attempts to exorcise the dread of an approaching battle by daydreaming about far-off islands, visited vicariously through his childhood stamp collection.  

Perhaps the last volume from one of literature’s greatest voices, The Suicide Run brings to life the drama, absurdity, and heroism that forever changed the men who served in the Marine Corps.

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    The Confessions of Nat Turner

      William Styron
The Confessions of Nat Turner

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

In 1831 Nat Turner awaits death in a Virginia jail cell. He is a slave, a preacher, and the leader of the only effective slave revolt in the history of 'that peculiar institution'. William Styron's ambitious and stunningly accomplished novel is Turner's confession, made to his jailers under the duress of his God. Encompasses the betrayals, cruelties and humiliations that made up slavery - and that still sear the collective psyches of both races.

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    The Long March

      William Styron
The Long March

In the blaze of a Carolina summer, among the poison ivy and loblolly pines, eight Marines are killed almost casually by misfired mortar shells. Deciding that his battalion has been 'doping off', Colonel Templeton calls for a 36-mile forced march to inculcate discipline. The Long March is a searing account of this ferocious ordeal - and of the two officers who resist.

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    Set This House on Fire

      William Styron
Set This House on Fire

The day after Peter Leverett met his old friend Mason Flagg in Italy, Mason was found dead. The hours leading up to his death were a nightmare for Peter - both in their violence and in their maddening unreality.The blaze of events which followed was, Peter soon realised, ignited by a conflict between two men: Mason Flagg himself and Cass Kinsolving, a tortured, self-destructive painter, a natural enemy and prey to the monstrous evil of Mason Flagg. Three events - murder, rape and suicide - explode in the is relentless and passionate novel, almost overwhelming in its conception of the varieties of good and evil.

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