William Styron American Literature Analysis
Styron was a master of modern literary style. He has been compared to Faulkner because, more than any of his contemporaries, Styron had a feeling for rhythms of language that seem to embody the speech of a whole region, a lush, romantic feeling for nature and for human relationships. Styron was a painstaking writer, often spending a day perfecting a single page. Yet his prose flows so gracefully that his enormous effort usually remains invisible. This is especially true of Lie Down in Darkness and The Confessions of Nat Turner, both of which appear to be seamless narratives, stories that unfold without a break or flaw in style.
If there is a fault in Styron’s style, some critics would say it is his perfectionism. He has been criticized for exercising too much control over his narratives, producing novels that are too meticulous, too polished. This kind of exquisite technique robs his work of a certain rough-edged life, an unruliness that should overtake the writer and ride him, so to speak. Styron’s sense of language, in other words, is too precious; it can actually get in the way of the life he is trying to portray.
This tendency is perhaps most evident in The Confessions of Nat Turner, in which Turner’s consciousness is transparently Styron’s—that is, Turner is endowed with Styron’s gift for language and much of Styron’s literary sensibility. Some critics, however, have argued that this is precisely...
(The entire section is 3063 words.)
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