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In 1985 William Styron fell victim to a crippling and almost suicidal depression, the same illness that took the lives of Randall Jarrell, Primo Levi and Virginia Woolf. That Styron survived his descent into madness is something of a miracle. That he manages to convey its tortuous progression and his eventual recovery with such candor and precision makes Darkness Visible a rare feat of literature, a book that will arouse a shock of recognition even in those readers who have been spared the suffering it describes.
A meditation on Styron's ( Sophie's Choice ) serious depression at the age of 60, this essay evokes with detachment and dignity the months-long turmoil whose symptoms included the novelist's "dank joylessness," insomnia, physical aversion to alcohol (previously "an invaluable senior partner of my intellect") and his persistent "fantasies of self-destruction" leading to psychiatric treatment and hospitalization. The book's virtues--considerable--are twofold. First, it is a pitiless and chastened record of a nearly fatal human trial far commoner than assumed--and then a literary discourse on the ways and means of our cultural discontents, observed in the figures of poet Randall Jarrell, activist Abbie Hoffman, writer Albert Camus and others. Written by one whose book-learning proves a match for his misery, the memoir travels fastidiously over perilous ground, receiving intimations of mortality and reckoning delicately with them. Always clarifying his demons, never succumbing to them in his prose, Styron's neat, tight narrative carries the bemusement of the worldly wise suddenly set off-course--and the hard-won wisdom therein. In abridged form, the essay first appeared in Vanity Fair.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Short book but very detailed. He talked about how sometimes psychiatrist can be shady and push pharmaceuticals on you rather than hospitalization, Styron really hit a nerve with... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Alessandro
An honest description of a difficult journey and an insightful encounter with self. Moving and wise.Published 7 days ago by Megan Levy
... and maybe enlightening to some people who had never dealt with depression, twrnty-five years ago. Read morePublished 17 days ago by david kinzler
This classic short description of the award-winning Mr.Styron's experience with severe depression, and suicidal thoughts, was first delivered as a lecture at Johns Hopkins' yearly... Read morePublished 18 days ago by M. William Feder
Decent inside view of depression and anxiety but nothing really new or insightful here. Styron is a good writer, his prose is entertaining and easy to read, but don't expect any... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Fantasia
DARKNESS VISIBLE comes highly recommended. It explains depression as it should be, Very interesting, as the author experienced it himself. Read morePublished 2 months ago by virginia H. Helms
Simple and yet truer than any other book that has ever described the abyss of depression.Published 2 months ago by Susie Reynolds Reece
Admittedly this is my first William Styron book and after writing this review, I will be off to purchase more....! Read morePublished 2 months ago by booklover9