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William Styron's Sophie's Choice : Poland, the South, and the Tragedy of Suicide

William Styron's Sophie's Choice : Poland, the South, and the Tragedy of Suicide William Styron's Sophie's Choice: Poland, the South, and the Tragedy of Suicide by Bertram Wyatt-Brown Although his revelation came late in his life, few twentieth-century writers can match the candidness of William Styron regarding his inclination to depression. In recent years he seems to have relished the chance to make the recovering melancholic a figure of valor and dignity. Moreover, his novels, most especially Sophie's Choice, show that when under artistic discipline personal issues of this kind can inform and even inspire the writing of fiction. What settings could be more suitable for a literary artist tormented by that poorly understood mental disorder than the Nazi death camps, the stark grayness of wartime Poland under occupation, and the American South where the narrator, a Virginian, has to confront the racial sins of his native land? In addition, Styron creates two memorable figures, Sophie Zawistowska and Nathan Landau. The latter is a victim of extreme madness and Sophie, a former captive of the Holocaust, is still undergoing the agony of that terror. One suspects that Styron's concentration upon near alcoholism and the many manifestations of madness, to which his characters are subject, helps him ride down the fury of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

William Styron's Sophie's Choice : Poland, the South, and the Tragedy of Suicide

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 34 (1) – Dec 1, 2001

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2001 Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ISSN
1534-1461
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

William Styron's Sophie's Choice: Poland, the South, and the Tragedy of Suicide by Bertram Wyatt-Brown Although his revelation came late in his life, few twentieth-century writers can match the candidness of William Styron regarding his inclination to depression. In recent years he seems to have relished the chance to make the recovering melancholic a figure of valor and dignity. Moreover, his novels, most especially Sophie's Choice, show that when under artistic discipline personal issues of this kind can inform and even inspire the writing of fiction. What settings could be more suitable for a literary artist tormented by that poorly understood mental disorder than the Nazi death camps, the stark grayness of wartime Poland under occupation, and the American South where the narrator, a Virginian, has to confront the racial sins of his native land? In addition, Styron creates two memorable figures, Sophie Zawistowska and Nathan Landau. The latter is a victim of extreme madness and Sophie, a former captive of the Holocaust, is still undergoing the agony of that terror. One suspects that Styron's concentration upon near alcoholism and the many manifestations of madness, to which his characters are subject, helps him ride down the fury of

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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