Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Darkness Visible: Memoirs of Madness – William Styron

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on October 25, 2010

I always felt that the value of written word is lost on those who have it in excess. Mindless reading, although supremely better than no reading, comes with a diminished value. Reading ought to be like cud chewing. Gorge first, keep the semi-digested stuff in a temporary storage and retrieve it subsequently for leisurely chewing and absorption. This should be especially true of any writing that deals in fundamental human predicaments. In the limited list of writers who genuinely wedded themselves to such subject matters, William Styron was a prominent one. Needless to say that I have become an ardent admirer of William Styron’s fiction. There is something grand, mature, deep, generous, wise and masterly the way he writes. He is one of those rare writers who by the sheer quality of his work enthuses readers to cover his entire oeuvre. I read “Darkness Visible: Memoirs of Madness” with the intention of covering some ground of his vast output and as usual was amply rewarded

Styron went through an intense period of depression which was mentally debilitating. “Darkness Visible” is the narrative of this turmoil and the gradual convalescence he expereinced. There is an ineluctable serenity, cheerfulness and compassion in the way Styron writes about his battles with depression. Unwittingly it is also an effortless demonstration of the scintillating mind that Styron was. There is not even a single sentence in the whole book where Styron asks the maudlin question: Why Me? He narrates his ordeal (and the ordeal of many of his contemporaries) as it came and as he faced without exhibiting any bitterness, anger or despondency. Styron handles this poignant episode of his life objectively and with a large heart that one cannot but admire him and his capacity for writing. Paradoxical as it may sound, Styron makes this dark and gloomy subject matter and his encounters with it a delightful read. Maybe there in lies the proof of his mastery and the deservedly elevated position he occupies in the world of literature

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