William Styron Biography
(1925–2006), Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, Set This House on Fire
American novelist, born in Newport News, Virginia, educated at Duke University. He has served in the US Marine Corps. His first novel, Lie Down in Darkness (1951), the story of a young Southern woman's madness and eventual suicide, is indebted to Faulkner. The relatively brief The Long March (1956), set against the backdrop of the Korean War in which he served, is considered by some critics to be his finest work of fiction. In Set This House on Fire (1960) Styron inhabits the consciousness of another Southerner, an expatriate artist who wanders around France and Italy in search of the creativity that, because of his heavy drinking and the lack of real love in his life, continues to elude him. He is also the author of The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) and the famous Sophie's Choice (1979), which examines, through the eyes of a newcomer to New York (a convincing autobiographical portrayal), the lives of the fascinating and enigmatic Polish refugee Sophie and her Jewish lover who is seemingly brilliant but actually quite insane. Set in part in the Nazi concentration camps in which Sophie claims to have suffered, the novel is a searching account of strategies of survival and ensuing guilt, and raised some controversy for its provocative handling of tangled moral issues.