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Inheritance of Night: Early Drafts of Lie Down in Darkness

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From 1947 to 1949, William Styron twice attempted to write a novel under the working title Inheritance of Night. On the third attempt he produced the award-winning Lie Down in Darkness, which when published in September 1951 established him as one of the most promising writers of his generation. Published here, in facsimile form, are the long-lost drafts of Styron's earliest version of Lie Down in Darkness. Although Styron began the narrative twice, he realized both times that his writing was derivative and his ...
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Inheritance of Night: Early Drafts of Lie Down in Darkness

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Overview

From 1947 to 1949, William Styron twice attempted to write a novel under the working title Inheritance of Night. On the third attempt he produced the award-winning Lie Down in Darkness, which when published in September 1951 established him as one of the most promising writers of his generation. Published here, in facsimile form, are the long-lost drafts of Styron's earliest version of Lie Down in Darkness. Although Styron began the narrative twice, he realized both times that his writing was derivative and his characters not yet fully conceived. These drafts show young Styron feeling his way into the story with various narrative voices and strategies, attempting to work out his plot. Influences from William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Robert Penn Warren are apparent in the text, and there is a character named Marcus Bonner who is an early rendition of Stingo in Sophie's Choice. The typescript drafts of Inheritance of Night for many years were thought to have been lost, but in 1980 were discovered in the files of one of Styron's former literary agents. These drafts eventually made their way to the archive of Styron's papers assembled at Duke University Library. This general interest trade volume is also available in two different limited editions for collectors: a lettered, signed, and boxed edition and a numbered, signed edition. With a preface by Styron and an introduction by James L. W. West III, these drafts afford much insight into the creation of Lie Down in Darkness and the writing of a major twentieth-century American writer.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It's fascinating for me to read, for the first time in over forty years, the stumbling starts toward the creation of Lie Down in Darkness. These passages show how, in my early twenties, I may have been in possession of a luminous vision for a novel but how it was a luminosity clouded by much indecision and awkwardness. . . . Inheritance of Night, then, is made up of fragments of a beginning, bits of fruitful inspiration mingled with conceits that were stillborn."--William Styron, from the Preface
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822313106
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1993
  • Edition description: FAC
  • Pages: 158
  • Product dimensions: 7.29 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

William Styron

William Styron is the author The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, and Lie Down in Darkness (winner of the Prix de Rome when published in 1951) and Darkness Visible. The author is a graduate of Duke University (1947), where his papers are housed at the Duke University Library. He currently lives in Roxbury, Connecticut, and Martha's Vineyard.

James L. W. West III is Distinguished Professor of English at The Pennsylvania State University. He is at work on an edition of Theodore Dreiser's Jennie Gerhardt and on the authorized biography of William Styron.

Biography

One of the great writers of the generation succeeding that of Hemingway and Faulkner, William Styron is renowned for the elegance of his prose and his powerful moral engagement. His books include Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, This Quiet Dust, and Darkness Visible. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the Howells Medal, and the Edward MacDowell Medal.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Clark Styron Jr. (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Roxbury, Connecticut, and Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 11, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newport News, Virginia
    1. Date of Death:
      November 1, 2006
    2. Place of Death:
      Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Prospectus (Winter 1947-48) 1
Typescript I: First Beginning (Winter 1947-48) 9
Typescript II: Second Beginning (Fall 1948) 67
Typescript III: Continuation of Second Beginning (Spring 1949) 115
Description of the Documents 138
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