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This Quiet Dust and Other Writings Hardcover – October 12, 1982

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Styron is pre-eminent...in his instinct for tragedy and in his respect for the sheer force of human feeling." -- Alfred Kazin

In an age when much American writing is either glacially noncommittal or heremetically personal, William Styron persists in addressing great moral issues with incendiary passion. Seriousness and ardor characterize all the essays in This Quiet Dust, the first book of nonfiction by the Pulitzer Prize -- winning author of Lie Down in Darkness and Sophie's Choice.

In this new edition, which has been updated with the inclusion of six previously uncollected essays, Styron covers a wide range of concerns; yet whether he is recounting his search for the historic Nat Turner, peering into the abyss of Auschwitz, navigating the battlefields of Vietnam and Chicago in 1968, or offering fresh assessments of Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, James Jones, and Robert Penn Warren, Styron is always a consummate literary stylist, one who is as engaging as he is engaged.

"[Styron is] the most accomplished craftsman, and one of the most penetrating witnesses of our life." -- Associated Press --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"Styron is pre-eminent...in his instinct for tragedy and in his respect for the sheer force of human feeling." -- Alfred Kazin

In an age when much American writing is either glacially noncommittal or heremetically personal, William Styron persists in addressing great moral issues with incendiary passion. Seriousness and ardor characterize all the essays in This Quiet Dust, the first book of nonfiction by the Pulitzer Prize -- winning author of Lie Down in Darkness and Sophie's Choice.

In this new edition, which has been updated with the inclusion of six previously uncollected essays, Styron covers a wide range of concerns; yet whether he is recounting his search for the historic Nat Turner, peering into the abyss of Auschwitz, navigating the battlefields of Vietnam and Chicago in 1968, or offering fresh assessments of Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, James Jones, and Robert Penn Warren, Styron is always a consummate literary stylist, one who is as engaging as he is engaged.

"[Styron is] the most accomplished craftsman, and one of the most penetrating witnesses of our life." -- Associated Press --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (October 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039450934X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394509341
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,935,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on December 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
William Styron is one of America's greatest contemporary writers. I read "The Confessions of Nat Turner" in high school and was blown away by his ability to bring history alive, to reproduce the sights, smells, sounds, the place entire. He also has that wonderful rolling Southern rhetorical cadence and style of many of the writers from his region that almost certainly derives from the King James Bible, one of the masterpieces of the English language and a book much beloved in the South. Styron in many of his books rails against what he perceives to be the cruelty of God, but as he himself admits in one of the essays here, he can't get away from the moral precepts of the Bible; they inform everything he writes.

So, Styron's great strenghts are his rhetorical brilliance, his moral perspective and forcefulness as a tragedian, and his uncanny sense of place. These make him invaluable as a historical novelist. His weakness is, as one critic put it, is that sometimes he tries to make the rhetoric do the work of thought. That is, the beauty of his language occasionally obscures ideas that are half-baked or ill-conceived. (A good example of this is his popular memoir of his clinical depression, "Darkness Visible", which is terrifyingly vivid about how depression feels but offers almost no insight into what causes it or how his went away.) This quality mars a few of the essays in this volume, particularly "Chicago 1968", an account of his experiences at the Democratic Convention of that year that is screechingly dated and unintentionally funny. Styron is just bound and determined to be on the side of the Radically Chic Righteous Young Yippies, no matter what.

But when he sticks to history, literary subjects, and his own books that he knows so well, his essays are a treat.
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Format: Kindle Edition
"This quiet dust" reflects the wide range of William Styron's experiences and interests. Many of the essays are drawn from his research for his best selling novels and delve deeply into the experience of slavery in the US South and the horror of Auschwitz, while others follow his travels, reflections on war and his educational and writing experiences. His writing is always polished and his descriptions penetrating. I found his tributes to the writers who influenced him and especially his account for Life Magazine of Faulkner's funeral very moving. There is more than enough here to interest most readers unless you take exception to his particular brand of liberal politics forcefully expressed
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Format: Paperback
It is both a curse and a blessing that William Styron is not a more prolific novelist: while his fans must endure years - decades, even - without a new work in which to immerse ourselves, when his novels do emerge, they are painstakingly crafted and tremendously affecting. While waiting for his next book, I decided to polish off "Quiet Dust." Although some of the articles and essays therein are indeed fascinating, the whole of it leaves me grateful that Styron usually sticks to fiction. Styron is at his best when delivering tributes to literary icons such as Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and James Jones, or when recounting memories and stories of the American South. It is when he forays into political issues (describing his crusade to save a CT killer from death row, his experience during the 1968 Chicago riots, his unqualified reverence of Kennedy and unqualified abhorrence of everything Republican) that one is struck by the incongruity of his narrative style (which is suited beautifully for fiction, but seems overwrought and clunky when employed for nonfiction purposes) and his oftentimes embarassingly facile understanding of and "insights" into politics. None of this at all diminishes his standing as one of America's greatest living novelists; but it does make us appreciate the fact that he has spent most of his life engaged in literary pursuits instead of political crusades.
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