The New York Times–bestselling memoir of crippling depression and the struggle for recovery by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Sophie’s Choice.
In the summer of 1985, William Styron became numbed by disaffection, apathy, and despair, unable to speak or walk while caught in the grip of advanced depression. His struggle with the disease culminated in a wave of obsession that nearly drove him to suicide, leading him to seek hospitalization before the dark tide engulfed him. Darkness Visible tells the story of Styron’s recovery, laying bare the harrowing realities of clinical depression and chronicling his triumph over the disease that had claimed so many great writers before him. His final words are a call for hope to all who suffer from mental illness that it is possible to emerge from even the deepest abyss of despair and “once again behold the stars.” This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives.
A meditation on Styron's ( Sophie's Choice ) serious depression at the age of 60, this essay evokes with detachment and dignity the months-long turmoil whose symptoms included the novelist's ``dank joylessness,'' insomnia, physical aversion to alcohol (previously ``an invaluable senior partner of my intellect'') and his persistent ``fantasies of self-destruction'' leading to psychiatric treatment and hospitalization. The book's virtues--considerable--are twofold. First, it is a pitiless and chastened record of a nearly fatal human trial far commoner than assumed--and then a literary discourse on the ways and means of our cultural discontents, observed in the figures of poet Randall Jarrell, activist Abbie Hoffman, writer Albert Camus and others. Written by one whose book-learning proves a match for his misery, the memoir travels fastidiously over perilous ground, receiving intimations of mortality and reckoning delicately with them. Always clarifying his demons, never succumbing to them in his prose, Styron's neat, tight narrative carries the bemusement of the worldly wise suddenly set off-course--and the hard-won wisdom therein. In abridged form, the essay first appeared in Vanity Fair.