Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review - Darkness Visible by William Styron

A literary memoir on madness

William Styron was a soldier in his internal war with melancholia, who after rising up from the depths of its temporary madness decided to share his fashioned armour and learned defences with the afflicted masses, via Darkness Visible.

This literary memoir details one mans descent into paralyzing inertia, discontent and hopelessness, while never once causing the reader to follow suit. Styron seemingly attempts to dispel some of the myths surrounding hospitalization, and the efficacy of pharmacology, while informally poo-pooing ‘group’ and ‘art’ therapies, asserting that they may be helpful to others, irrespective of their inability to assist him. In an effort to explain and understand the root of depression and its piercing clutches, Styron subscribes to the theory of an “incomplete mourning” of profound loss in childhood, as one of its driving instigations. The insinuation is also made that it is a disease that commonly affects artistic types - especially poets - and women, to higher degrees.

What I take away with me at the end of this short glimpse into the malady of a literary giant, are some profoundly affecting and, possibly, life saving observations that have surely helped countless people find their way out of the desolate labyrinth that is depression.

“Even those for whom any kind of therapy is a futile exercise can look forward to the eventual passing of the storm. If they survive the storm itself, its fury almost always fades and then disappears. Mysterious in its coming, mysterious in its going, the affliction runs its course, and one finds peace.”

3/5 Snakes


  1. Wonderful review! I also liked this book and reviewed it on my blog. If you would like to read it: http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2008/01/darkness-visible-memoir-of-madness-by.html

    Congratulations on your new blog! I really like it and now subcribe to you via Google Reader.

  2. Thanks Teddy, I will have to check yours out too. I have also added your site to my page as 'Time Well Wasted'.

    Happy Reading!