Digital List Price: $17.99
Kindle Price: $11.99

Save $28.01 (70%)

These promotions will be applied to this item:

Some promotions may be combined; others are not eligible to be combined with other offers. For details, please see the Terms & Conditions associated with these promotions.

You've subscribed to ! We will preorder your items within 24 hours of when they become available. When new books are released, we'll charge your default payment method for the lowest price available during the pre-order period.
Update your device or payment method, cancel individual pre-orders or your subscription at
Your Memberships & Subscriptions

Buy for others

Give as a gift or purchase for a team or group.
Learn more

Buying and sending eBooks to others

Select quantity
Buy and send eBooks
Recipients can read on any device

Additional gift options are available when buying one eBook at a time.  Learn more

These ebooks can only be redeemed by recipients in the US. Redemption links and eBooks cannot be resold.

Kindle app logo image

Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more

Read instantly on your browser with Kindle for Web.

Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.

QR code to download the Kindle App

Loading your book clubs
There was a problem loading your book clubs. Please try again.
Not in a club? Learn more
Amazon book clubs early access

Join or create book clubs

Choose books together

Track your books
Bring your club to Amazon Book Clubs, start a new book club and invite your friends to join, or find a club that’s right for you for free.
In Search of Silence: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany by [Samuel R. Delany, Kenneth R James]

In Search of Silence: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany Kindle Edition

4.3 4.3 out of 5 stars 17 ratings

New from Used from

Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

In Search of Silence, Volume 1, 1957–1969

The Journals of Samuel R. Delany

By Samuel R. Delany, Kenneth R. James

Wesleyan University Press

Copyright © 2017 Samuel R. Delany
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8195-7089-5


Editor's Introduction, xi,
7. BABEL-17 AND BEYOND, 255,
12. APPENDIXES, 555,
Appendix 1. Notebook 89 [Winter 1957–January 1958], 557,
Appendix 2. Notebook 1–January–February 1958, 569,
Appendix 3. Three Short Works from 1959–1960, 587,
Acknowledgments, 605,
Notes, 607,
Bibliography, 645,
Index, 649,


Bronx Science and Other New York Scenes

As of the first entry of Notebook 1, Samuel Delany — born April 1, 1942 — is a fifteen-year-old sophomore at the Bronx High School of Science. Most of the young people Delany mentions in this and the entries to follow are either fellow students at Science or, after Notebook 1, part of Marilyn Hacker's social circle at NYU.

With the exception of an extended sequence in Notebook 4, most of the private journal entries from this period are brief and fragmentary. However, the notebooks in which the entries appear are far from empty; many of their pages hold class notes and homework assignments, with most of the remainder devoted to drafts of stories, poems, play scripts, and more. By the time of his writing of the first entry of Notebook 1, Delany had already completed two novels, Lost Stars and Scavengers — the first of which he had written while still at the Dalton School — and was working on a third, Those Spared by Fire. By Notebook 3 he had moved on to his fourth, Cycle for Toby.

As various entries indicate, during this period Delany contributed to his school's literary magazine, Dynamo, and participated in the Hunter College Dramatic Program for Young People. His fiction and nonfiction had already begun receiving significant recognition: in Notebook 4 Delany mentions receiving prizes from the nationwide Scholastic Writers Awards for the short story "The Gravedigger" and the essay "Portrait of the Artist as Six Characters in Search of Tea and Sympathy."

Although the entries from this period present a picture of a talented and ambitious young artist, they also hint at a teenager in flux and responding to a number of pressures. In an autobiographical fragment in Notebook 4, Delany states that while his strengths are in the arts, his professional interests are still "diversified" and that he is "fascinated" bynuclear physics. In a private entry in the same notebook, he ponders an account he had written in the notebook of a friend of Hacker's describing a cruising experience. And in the closing entry from this period, Delany mentions staying with friends for several days: a hint of the uneasy atmosphere at home.

The first three of the four entries from Notebook 1 are written on pages that have come loose from their spiral binding; see appendixes 1 and 2 for a fuller discussion of these pages. Notebooks 3 and 4 contain the first of the marginal comments by Hacker, indicated in bold type.


to every thing. That's it: my writing — at times — captures the intangible. Good for me! (Conceited bastard that you are!) And it is almost always when I write about Ellen! I must stop being so analytical when I read; and be more so when I write. I have lost more effect from the greatest works of literature than anybody in the world! — I bet. That's it! I'm too chemical. I know too much about what is being done with the words and themes. Although I can whip the words into place myself; I can see the scars on the backs of the words whipped by other writers. That analytical frame of mind is hell. I write creatively as though I were writing a math textbook, and damn it, it comes out just as good. I know what humor is, I know what suspense is. Someday I will know what tragedy is. I do not want to know; then I will be static completely. The hell of it is; when I don't understand the construction, I don't get the effect; or rather, I block out the effect. Oddly, in my contemporaries this is not true; I can read their writing and achieve the effect and not be so scathingly analytical. I hope it continues.

* * *


* * *

Dickens George [Eliot] — The Mill on the Floss Hawthorne Thackeray Victor Hugo — Les Misérables Cooper Melville

Try to think up a situation involving kids. What types of characters: Ellen; a shy girl. Reserved: Vinni; Shy as hell. Tito; he is an all around type of person. Other; confused. Vivian, all around. Phyllis is out & out glamour girl type. Ruben; he will do whatever is demanded of him. Paul is an inhibited younger brother type. Whom should I pair Ellen up with? Not Paul. Who's taller then Ellen? Joe! Not for Ellen. Tito! That's who! All right. How? Vinni & Butch. Ruben with Vivian. What about Mildred? Mildred is indispensable as a character. Analyze Mildred: Nice. Shy. Likes to pretend. No! That is not right for Ellen. Characters: A Dreamer! That's right, a crazy mixed up kid. That is Ellen. Punchinello! That's Butch. But that's cruel. So what. Forget about the actors. That's hard. Let's see. I like the dreamer. And I like Ellen in the C.M.K. role. What about the boys. I like the juvenile delinquent kick. What to do with it. Tito is the hero type, he is more dynamic then Vinni. Vinni is tragic type. Vinni, he can be the juvenile delinquent with his friend. Tito wants to grow up. Growing up. There is a conflict, man — or boy, against society. What will be the symbol for adulthood. The dreamer, her symbol is the tree. The tree! That's it. It's all falling into place. Good. Tito and Mildred are brother & sister. The tree — I see her throwing herself at the tree. Ellen makes a play for him. Vinni is sort of in love with Ellen. Vinni kills Paul. Oh, that's fun. Butch, what & where is she? She wants to help Mildred. What is her problem. Vinni! That's her problem. Vinni & Tito are friends. (What about Other? Forget about him!) So far so good. What to do about Paul. I don't know! Where do we stick him in. I have this feeling we should start off with Paul. No. Yes, I don't know. I have to get a first scene. How I like the back alley. All right. The back alley. What do we do with it? I've got to get — I've got it. Mildred & Paul. Mildred to see the tree. And Paul teases her. Then Tito to chase Paul away with Vinni. Mildred —

Write it, stupid. Don't just talk about it. Write it out!


Journal of 5 Minutes in Park.

I feel a discouraging lack of creativity at the present.

Music — when poems become things that are forced and can not sing.

Marilyn is sitting beside me reading my manuscripts. The creativity — we are in the park — is coming back.

This is one of those shaded bowers that grace good old Central. There is shade dappling among the sun spots on the white paper, and a leaf has fallen onto Marilyn's lap where she has picked it up and fingers it as she reads with her pretension of enrapture. The cars sound behind me on a highway. There are no birds here.

I just stopped to title these. Marilyn has turned another page; a boy passed and has turned off the path 20 feet away to stare at the horses on the bridle path. Now he has gone away.

Poetic Dialogue

— José, what is a word ending in "ry" that is the opposite of "mandatory."

— Are you writing creative material?

— Yes.

— Then I can't tell you. You are a craftsman incompetent in your field. You are writing prose?

— Yes. José, I am a craftsman who is asking another to lend me one of his tools momentarily, for one of mine has dulled. Oh José, I know the word, I just can't think of it.

— If you were writing poetry, I could tell you, but prose is out of my domain; you have not justified yourself in that. Poetry is music and I could easily tell you upon what line a certain note which you had sung, must fall. But that is poetry and poetry (as I said) is music.

— Then tell me the word, José, prose is poetry.


* * *

Experiment in Alexandrine

The chest I saw put out.

Out the chest now cast off — she did hang them high up. So much for that.

* * *

When one loses $20, one gets such a horribly mortal feeling — I mean like one could die. And saying that, doesn't make me feel a damn bit better.

* * *

If my collected works ever be published Let them be called "Womb of Shadows"

* * *

— Bruitto half drowsily nuzzles his face in Cain's naked groin; Cain's fingers play Bruitto's hair in his sleep, the silent sleeping hand upon Bruitto's hair and head which moves occasionally under its burden across pulsing genitals.

He placed his hands on her cheeks and pulled her down, sliding his hands down her shoulders and then under her arms, so that his thumbs played across her breasts and finally completely covering them and moving together beneath her blouse which opened and then she was shrugging out of it and the nipples beneath his fingers, pulling her down, until she was full upon his own naked chest and his hands going into her skirt caressing softly and then he stretched his hands apart tightening his shoulders so that the snaps [tore] and he moved around her whole pelvic area in lingering frantic rhythm at her cunt and then he was twisting until he had worked himself naked and home and in that struggle was born that rhythm with which he now poured himself into her, her body beneath his own his face happy against her neck, Bruitto lay —

Notebook 7 — 1959

[March–April 1959]

Are there
No fragments
  My soul
  In this
  — April 19, '59

* * *


Brown bodies
Slender, heads whirl
and crowns of black
  fly loose
  Brown pupils in yellow ivory
  Slender faces open
"Chinga tu madre —"
  Hands flash against each other in
High contrapuntal laughter comes
the answer
"Chinga te —"
Running, they separate, and one,
Sneakers carry him in a wide arc
across the city asphalt

* * *

To a woman getting on the subway with a pot containing three tall lilies who took a seat behind another woman — who had her back to me so I couldn't see her head.

I want to pen a terse and
  Turgid rhyme
To insulate this thing from
World and time;
But how may I hope to escape
A woman with 3 heads
  Who're trumpet shaped.

* * *


I consider it one of life's great joys
that boys like girls and girls like boys
but it sometimes happens as the old globe whirls
that boys like boys and girls like girls.

Thus we are faced with the reality
of homosexuality
which causes lots of righteous anger
and very bad business for Margaret Sanger.

Now Sodomy falls into three different classes
There're sodomists, inverts, and pederasts,
But as Paul Verlaine said one fine night
I'm not a Sodomist, man. I'm a Sodomite.

Now some folks who make up the nomenclature
Say one kind's sin and the other kind's nature,
But I can't see why it's a sin
Because of what entrance you go in
(As long as it isn't the fire exit.)

There are some folks under the impression
that Sodomy's just an ethics session:
to you I say who thus surmise
Just open your mouth and close your eyes.

You'll see that the moment often starts
in urban life or in the Arts
And that is why in this fair city
The girls are so handsome and the boys so pretty.

On this theme the movies have been just a mite slow;
Said the censors, "Perversion just won't go."
But up we pop like hands from gloves
The Third Sex, and Three Strange Loves.

I saw a man dressed in rather bad taste
With Revlon and Avon all over his face
Said he, "Son you may not like the way I dress,
But I'm a member of the S.O.S.
  Sons of Sodom."

I mean it rather sets you back to hear:

Oh, George, I really do love you
When your voice goes up an octave or two,
And you walk with such grace and refinement,
With your hip swing ten inches out of alignment.

Now John likes Jane and Jane likes Jim
And Jim likes someone who doesn't like him,
And it's easy to see how this can annoy
Since the one Jim likes is a boy
(And so is Jane for that matter).

In France the movement took the lead
With Marcel Proust and André Gide
And the loving couple we all know
As Paul Verlaine and A. Rimbaud.

Gide's pleasantly pederastic essence
Was in his love for adolescence
And it was said — and it be truth
He loved that old sweet bird of youth.
(Even went to bed with the damn thing)

Proust, dabbling with more subtlety
Perverted even Sodomy
And it was said at certain scenes
'twas Albert and not Albertine
(that the man loved).
(Did I say man?)

Simone de Beauvoir had her fun
till they kicked her out of the Sorbonne
for starting little innovations
in student-faculty relations.

Something I've noticed from all of these
the eternal triangle's gone isosceles
two men at the base all setting up home
Some girl at the vertex all alone.

No matter what it's all about
they always kick the odd one out
But the question — when you get it down to old home Sod —
is just who is what, and what is odd.

My story's over; I've no more to tell
So I'll bid my love a fond farewell
So if I want to win that Nobel Prize
I guess I'll have to transvestize —
(Besides, he's a boy and too flat chested anyway.)

* * *

I know a [centered] man
  Whom Jove begot
Before remorse began
  And lust forgot.

So let your vaulted thunders roar
  In caverns deep
I have no hiding but my circled soul
  And that asleep.

NOTEBOOK 6 — 1959

[April 1959]

This is the problem: two ethical systems clash. The stronger one wins out.

* * *

H.P. continued from Vol. I

hand of which whisked up and down the stem of his cock. The nigger, with his own hand, grabbed his own penis and his black hand flew up and down like a piston. Erect, the prick was huge, like [a] tree standing out between his spread legs, black and tall, curving smoothly from the crinkly black bush. The great low hanging black balls swung back and forth as the ebony hand pumped, the fingers flying in furious ecstasy. The nail bitten fingers that closed about Larry's stiff prick kept the same rhythm. The black sex scepter would have taken both Larry's and Bastos's hand to cover. Larry reached out and grappled the aching bitch stick, it was like caressing a hot water pipe. Basto reached around with both hands and lent his power. The four hands, like a single enclosing column, swept rhythmically up and down the ebon obelisk. There was still six thick inches of night standing beyond their fingers.

Larry leaned over and put his mouth around the vibrating head of the black flower, [reaching] his warm wet tongue over & beneath the salty foreskin. The three of them were in ecstasy. They were straining so hard — the black body about to explode with energy — that he collapsed in the hay, still beating his black meat. Larry saw the shit eater had arisen. The gigantic white man pulled apart his fly and the crazy pinnacle jutted forth. The shit eater stepped to the ground. The nigger's head leaped forward and thick lips closed over his juicy cock. Larry felt something wet between his buttocks. The S.E. tongued violently Larry's rectum. The shit eater grabbed Larry's free hand, and Larry tumbled to stub nailed fingers, in themselves like vast phalli. The shit eater had jammed his other hand into Basto's ass. Now the combined energy as they tongued, fingered, and assed each other beat like a huge sea among them.

* * *

[inscription on inner back cover of notebook:] Return this to Bruno Callabro


April 28, 1959

Illuminations in the night ululant — the small voices in the back of the brain; my mind crawls across the floor. "Step on it quickly." The ice is black. When the image crashes on the tiles; shattering, isn't it? It is inebriated — the drunken babbling of the soft voices pierces up behind the surface of existence. When I wonder what they say, they lisp out, inaudible.

Where am I headed for; the surface of things about me is dark and love is hideous against my flesh — and love is hideous.

I'm writing a letter now:

Don't you remember, Ellen, when we cut down the green of fresh grass with our laughter; you had red hair and I could never touch you — and there were three of us,Ruben and I and you; the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum are dark and the walls, where they are not plastered with artifacts, are black slabs of ice. I pressed my face against the marble, and I said —

Oh god how I would love a conversation; I want to say what we said; I want to tell you on paper. The futility of mere syllables; and anyway, it would be meaningless, for Ruben first came in and then he put his hand up and rubbed his mouth, watching; you stood with your red hair in the black hall, and we were silent for a while.

Then we went on among the tombs.

* * *

April 29,

Isn't that a nice date?


M — Where the hell is he?

J — He's taking a shit for himself, which he'll write in his notebook when he gets back. (half hour later)

M — Either constipation or diarrhea. I don't know which one.

J — You can look in his notebook tomorrow and find out.

It's getting colder. I can't lie down and absorb the warm light anymore. The rock has made a ruin of my stockings. Judy asks me how long you've been gone. She is making strange hieroglyphs in her notebook. I say about half an hour. She says it's not as long as that. She lies down and I hold the book so she cannot see it. I'll see it anyway. He must have gotten lost she says, turning over. He got lost.

(Continues...)Excerpted from In Search of Silence, Volume 1, 1957–1969 by Samuel R. Delany, Kenneth R. James. Copyright © 2017 Samuel R. Delany. Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
--This text refers to the hardcover edition.


"The simple fact is that I think Delany is one of the most important American writers, one who ought to be spoken of alongside any great American writer of the second half of the twentieth century ... the recent publication of volume one of Delany's Selected Journals in a gorgeous edition from Wesleyan University Press (brilliantly edited by Kenneth James) is monumental."―Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus

"A game changer for Delany studies reveal[s] how one of the most brilliant American science fiction writers of the time (and later a noted literary theorist) came of age."―M.J. Emery,

"Delany himself, having become something of an icon in the urban literary universe."―Alan Contreras,
The Gay & Lesbian Review

"Traversing Delany's youth, we see a precocious mind grappling with his own talent he lives on two registers, participating in the world and also observing it, living simultaneously as a kid in NYC and, 'a writer of genius'."―Robert Minto,
New Republic

"In Delany, each work is in dialogue with the next, the fiction illuminating the nonfiction, which in turn re-illuminates the fiction. Delany's notebooks add a new voice to this dialogue."―Kenneth R. James,

"The simple fact is that I think Delany is one of the most important American writers, one who ought to be spoken of alongside any great American writer of the second half of the twentieth century the recent publication of volume one of Delany's Selected Journals in a gorgeous edition from Wesleyan University Press (brilliantly edited by Kenneth James) is monumental."―Matthew Cheney,
The Mumpsimus

"The first hardcover volume of Samuel Delany's journals, out now from Wesleyan University Press (covering the 1950s and 1960s) is both magisterial and inspirational―and boy, do we need the inspiration now. I am in awe of the work and scholarship involved. In collaboration with his remarkable subject, editor Kenneth James is doing an invaluable service to our field."―Andy Duncan, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Night Cache

"Mesmerizing . . .  a true portrait of an artist as a young Black man . . . already visible in these pages are the wit, sensitivity, penetration, playfulness and the incandescent intelligence that will characterize Delany and his extraordinary work."―Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"This is a tremendously significant and vital addition to the oeuvre of Samuel Delany; it clarifies questions not only of the writer's process, but also his development―to see, in his juvenilia, traces that take full form in his novels―is literally breathtaking.""―Matthew Cheney, author of Blood: Stories

"Mesmerizing . . .  a true portrait of an artist as a young Black man . . . already visible in these pages are the wit, sensitivity, penetration, playfulness and the incandescent intelligence that will characterize Delany and his extraordinary work."―Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09QVKR9QZ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wesleyan University Press (October 6, 2015)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 6, 2015
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 6773 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 688 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 4.3 out of 5 stars 17 ratings

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
17 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 14, 2017
14 people found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 9, 2018
3 people found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 7, 2021
One person found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 18, 2017
3 people found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 18, 2019
One person found this helpful
Report an issue

Does this item contain inappropriate content?
Do you believe that this item violates a copyright?
Does this item contain quality or formatting issues?