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Sophie's Choice Paperback


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Sophie's Choice + Lie Down in Darkness + Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (March 3, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736370
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A masterpiece, [which leaves] more conventional treatments of the Holocaust, such as Schindler's List, looking obtuse and sentimental The Times William Styron's Sophie's Choice is a landmark of mid-20th-century American fiction - an impressively fat novel that most literate Americans claim to have read even if they haven't Sunday Telegraph A weighty, passionate novel ... courageous [and] masterly New York Times Styron is a writer's writer, capable of setting a pastoral idyll in Brooklyn, and the traumas narrated occur alongside a classic American coming-of-age story Guardian, 1000 novels everyone must read Read it if you can bear. Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Three stories are told: a young Southerner wants to become a writer; a turbulent love-hate affair between a brilliant Jew and a beautiful Polish woman; and of an awful wound in that woman's past--one that impels both Sophie and Nathan toward destruction.

More About the Author

William Styron (1925-2006) , a native of the Virginia Tidewater, was a graduate of Duke University and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His books include Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, Set This House on Fire, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, This Quiet Dust, Darkness Visible, and A Tidewater Morning. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Howells Medal, the American Book Award, the Legion d'Honneur, and the Witness to Justice Award from the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation. With his wife, the poet and activist Rose Styron, he lived for most of his adult life in Roxbury, Connecticut, and in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, where he is buried.

Customer Reviews

His prose is beautiful and his characters unforgettable.
Heather Lowe
Using one of the main characters, `Stingo', as narrator, Styron's tale is told like a Russian babushka doll, stories within stories.
Sharon Beverly
A great book is so enjoyable to read that the reader does not want it to end; just the way I feel about Sophie's Choice.
joanieD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 126 people found the following review helpful By Rose City Reader on August 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
In Sophie's Choice, William Styron does a masterful job of telling a horrific tale in bearable way. Sophie is a Polish Christian who survived 18 months in Auschwitz before the camp was liberated by the Allies. Of course her story is heartbreaking. But Styron unfolds the tale in a way that allows the reader to take it all in without being crushed by the sadness of it.

First, instead of marching out the story of Sophie's capture and imprisonment in chronological order, Styron layers it on, each layer building on the next. When the 22-year-old narrator, Stingo, a Southerner who moved to Brooklyn to write novels, first meets Sophie in the summer of 1947, she gives him only the briefest of versions of her experience in the war. It is only as they grow closer as friends that Sophie, through a series of drunken encounters, provides more details to Stingo, each time admitting that she had lied to him before in earlier versions of her tale.

By presenting the horrifying particulars bit by bit, Styron seems mindful of the warning, and even quotes Stalin as saying, that a "single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." The reader sees the tragedy of Sophie's experience because, by offering just a little at a time, Styron allows the reader to digest her story, along with a great deal of information about the Holocaust in general. If Styron had presented her story in full from the beginning, the awfulness would be numbing.

Also, Styron balances Sophie's tragic past with her tragic present in Brooklyn. In love with Nathan, a brilliant drug addict subject to violent fits of jealousy, Sophie has no chance of building a "normal" life in America. But, given her experiences in the concentration camp, it is impossible to imagine how she could.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Charles R. Driggars on December 7, 2001
Format: Library Binding
Sophie's Choice almost lost me in the first thirty pages or so, but thank goodness I hung in there. A tragic yet surprisingly non-depressing story (at times humorous, at times sad, but always compelling and riviting) of three people, Stingo (the narrator, a Southern youth yearning to be a writer living in the utterly strange world of New York), Nathan (Sophie's lover, brilliant, fascinating, and troubled) and of course Sophie, the beautiful Polish Auschwitz survivor who utterly captivates Stingo's imagination, who become, as Stingo quotes Sophie, "the closest of friends." And the friendship this lonely Southern young man develops with these two exotic (to him) individuals is at the heart of this compelling novel. Styron's story actually weaves together two stories: that of Stingo's journey of self-discovery "in a place as strange as Brooklyn" and that of Sophie, a "bruised and battered child[ren] of the earth," whose gently playful personality stuggles to survive her guilt about her past and her passionate but difficult and sometimes shocking relationship with Nathan. Styron accomplishes the difficult task of making the reader appreciate, understand, and even admire the character of Nathan by telling his story through Stingo's eyes, so despite Nathan's flaws, and indeed Sophie's as well, the love Stingo feels for them both is believable and moving. The gradually revealed tale of the concentration camp is grim and realistic, and Sophie's telling of it illuminates the source of the guilt which is destroying her : her choice, or choices--for there are many choices, although the one referenced in the title stands starkly, horrifying alone.Read more ›
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Carlos R. Lugo-Ortiz on March 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
William Styron has written a profoundly moving and disturbing novel with 'Sophie's choice'. The story of Sophie, a beautiful Polish Catholic who survived Auschwitz and was left with no family, and Nathan, her schizophrenic American Jewish lover, as related by Stingo, a naive but sensitive 22 year-old Southerner wishing to be a writer, is, perhaps, one of the most harrowing stories one can manage to read. Styron evidently conducted a considerable amount of research on the Nazi occupation of Poland and the hideous dynamics of their concentration camps, and his synthesis through Sophie (whose name, etymologically, means knowledge) is convincing and compelling. But what makes 'Sophie's choice' go beyond a mere historical novel is the excellent way in which Styron weaves Sophie's story with those of Nathan and Stingo and the deep ruminations on the nature of evil and madness and their consequences. Although Styron sometimes gets long-winded, especially when he has Stingo ponder about sexual matters, the novel succeds in making us understand a sad historical event in more humane terms. Perhaps a creative university professor teaching World War II history would be wise enough to assign this novel to make students realize that history is not, as somebody once facetiously said, 'one damn fact after another'.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Davis on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Often compared by literary critics to Toni Morrison's 1987 Beloved, for the choices women and mothers are forced into under the most desperate of circumstances and conditions, William Styron's 1979 novel Sophie's Choice is a non-step textual tugging at the heart. In spite of the long passages replete with narrator Stingo's onanistic details (he hasn't gotten any, so the irony is, of course, that he lives in a place called the "pink palace"...hmmm...what's that a euphemism for?), this novel of a Holocaust survivor is not easily put out of one's memory. There are few books I internalize and metaphorize and carry around with me; this is one of those books. The humorous description of the McGraw/Hill publishing offices in Manhattan in the late 40s is a superbly hilarious way to open this novel. We are then introduced, at a rooming house in Brooklyn, to Sophie Z. and Nathan Landau, two of the novel's central characters. We learn that Sophie is a Catholic Pole who survived Auschwitz, but is still haunted by a "choice" she was forced to make while there. I agree with my fellow critic who states that the scene of Sophie's choice (set in the novel on April 1st, nonetheless, echoing, I would assume, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man)is so dramatically underplayed that I had to re-read it three times to make certain I didn't miss some critical nuance. Styron's choosing to portray the scene from which the novel's title comes as quietly and near the end as possible is a stroke of literary brilliance and keeps the reader page turning without end to find the answer to the question: What was the "choice"? Of course, in the course of the novel, Sophie Z.Read more ›
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