Conversations with William Styron by William Styron, James L. West |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Conversations with William Styron

Conversations with William Styron

by William Styron, James L. West
     
 

This is a selection of interviews with William Styron published during the period 1951-1984, from the months just following publication of Lie Down in Darkness, his first novel, to the period after publication of Sophie's Choice. Some twenty-five interviews are reprinted here, including six that are translated from the French and published in this

Overview


This is a selection of interviews with William Styron published during the period 1951-1984, from the months just following publication of Lie Down in Darkness, his first novel, to the period after publication of Sophie's Choice. Some twenty-five interviews are reprinted here, including six that are translated from the French and published in this country for the first time.

Styron is one of the most frequently interviewed writers of his generation. Unlike Faulkner, to whom he was often compared early in his career, Styron has learned to be a patient and cooperative interview subject. His comments in these interviews reveal much about the sources of his fiction and about his early life. He also reacts to attacks on his work, comments on his mission as a writer, and describes his compositional habits.

This is a useful collection for those who wish to know Styron better and to be guided by his conversations to clearer insights into his writing. For scholars and for general readers alike it will have much appeal. It gives the reader a sense of being in Styron's presence, of enjoying his flashes of wit and intellect, and of realizing how remarkable his achievement has been and how universally he is admired.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Only between the discussions of Lie Down in Darkness (1951) and The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), does a definite William Styron begin to emerge from this collection of 25 interviews, originally published in the New York Times, Paris Review, etc. Early on, he seems tentative and takes great pains to portray himself as separate from the ``Southern tradition,'' and as a hard-drinking, ``writing is hell'' author. But, as his reputation grows, Styron's interviewers (and the colloquia in which he participates) give him the opportunity to be more expansive, and his conversation comes more and more to resemble the whirlwind of ideas and images that marks his prose. The controversy surrounding The Confessions of Nat Turner is well documented here (an exchange between Styron and a group of Black militants helps fix the tone of the time), as is the genesis of Sophie's Choice. And an extended conversation with Arthur Miller will intrigue scholars and casual readers alike. On balance, the same can be said of much of this collection. November
Library Journal
Ever since the Paris Review ``Writers at Work'' series 30 years ago, demand for literary interviews has grown. These 25 conversations, spanning more than three decades in Styron's career, should please all devotees of the genre. What effect does his Southern background have on Styron's work? Who were his mentors and models? What problems did he have as a white author speaking as a black ( Nat Turner ), or as a gentile writing about Auschwitz ( Sophie's Choice )? Styron's forthright answers to questions such as these reveal the sincerity, intelligence, and seriousness that we prize in his novels. Michael Edmonds, State Historical Soc. of Wisconsin Lib., Madison please note: LJ's review of David M. Ber geron's Shakespeare's Romances and the Royal Family (LJ 4/15/85) contained the sen tence ``The author's argument is reasoned and restrained; he makes no large claims,'' to which should have been added ``asking only to stimulate further discussion, the pur pose of the best scholarship.'' Also, at the end of the review the sentence ``Yet there is much here that is provocative and worthy of attention'' was omitted.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780878052608
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
11/28/1985
Series:
Literary Conversations Series
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.01(d)

Read an Excerpt

William Styron: I also connected it with something that had happened to me: I went to Brooklyn, in the late 1940s, and met a young-older than I was, but nonetheless young-woman who had been a survivor of Auschwitz, and who had a tattoo on her arm. Her name was Sophie.

Stephen Lewis: Was she Polish and Catholic?

WS: She was Polish and Catholic.

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