William Styron (1925–2006) was the author of several novels, including Sophie’s Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner.

William Styron to Norman Mailer: Two Letters

Rose Styron, Bill Styron, Norman Mailer, and Norris Church Mailer at the party for the tenth anniversary of Poets & Writers, New York City, 1980
Here, then, is my final pompous verdict: you’ve written a book like sour wine, a lethal draught bitter and unlikable, but one which was written with a fine and growing art, and about which I think you can feel proud. It doesn’t have the fire of “Naked” but I think has primer and maturer insights. It is not an appealing book, but neither does it compromise, and for that alone you should be awarded a medal.

In the Southern Camp

Southern women of all classes, probably more than women anywhere else, have for generations been valued for their physical beauty to the exclusion of any other quality. The ethos of the plantation, with its stress on male dominance, allowed, generally speaking, very little room for the development of women’s intellectual …

Hell Reconsidered

Few books possess the power to leave the reader with that feeling of awareness which we call a sense of revelation. Richard L. Rubenstein’s The Cunning of History seems to me to be one of these. It is a very brief work—a long essay—but it is so rich in perception …

A Farewell to Arms

A short time ago, while talking to a group of students at a college in Virginia I was seized by a dismal insight. The subject of war literature had come up and I said that it occurred to me suddenly that at the age of fifty-one—perhaps a mellow age but …

In the Jungle

It was perhaps unfortunate that Daley, the hoodlum suzerain of the city, became emblematic of all that the young people in their anguish cried out against, even though he plainly deserved it. No one should ever have been surprised that he set loose his battalions against the kids; it was …

MacArthur

These reminiscences by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur would be remarkable if for no other reason than that they may very well comprise the only autobiography by a great man which is almost totally free of self-doubt. There is no soul-searching here, none of the moments of despair, inquietude, …

Tootsie Rolls

Assuming that we are to use the word in a derogatory sense, any honest definition of pornography must be subjective. For me it reduces itself to that which causes me disgust. (There is also a good kind of pornography, like Fanny Hill, which may give pleasure.) In order fully to …