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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by…
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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990)

by William Styron

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English (45)  French (3)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)

I finished this book downtown today while sitting on a concrete bench outside the Quality Inn, as a likely schizophrenic man screamed word salad into my ear. While all this excitement was going on, my girlfriend's car was being towed because of where I stupidly parked it. I liked the book at first, but I thought Styron wraps things up a little too easily. He waxes poetic about the horrors of depression, but he is alarmingly casual about his recovery. According to this slim volume of prose, after feeling suicidal Styron checked himself into the hospital and instantly began feeling better. The book ends on a hopeful note, which I guess is good for those depressives out there hanging on Styron's every word. The cover states the book was a "#1 Bestseller," but I wonder what percentage of buyers were just rubbernecking over a famous author's crash-and-burn scenario, and what percentage were actually people suffering from depression. My money's on the former for the larger percentage. Personally I haven't read any of his other books. I only picked this up because it was free (thank you Book Thing!) and I won't be keeping it. There are much better accounts of depression out there than this. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
This was my first encounter with Styron, and let me tell you, when I finally finished the book on that first sitting, I immediately dashed off to Amazon to take a look at the other books of his that are available. Though a slim volume, his extended essay on the nature of depression is one of the most penetrating I have come across. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Mar 21, 2014 |
This book was fantastic. Not only was it beautifully written it accurately describes the feelings of being truly clinically depressed in a way that can really be beneficial to someone with a loved one who is dealing with the disease. It's also very concise, so everyone should have the time to read it.

Definitely do. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Maybe I'm being needlessly harsh in my one-star rating, but there was something about Styron's memoir that really distressed me. I read it during one of my own periods of depression, and for whatever reason I decided to pair it with The Bell Jar, and instead of feeling any sort of comfort or recognition in Styron's words, I just felt sort of angry. I became so hung up on the ways we (women, men, Americans, depressed people, etc.) talk about depression, and on what it means when we call it by different names, that even the very title of the work became grating: "A Memoir of Madness." I started (probably unfairly) projecting onto Styron, grumbling to myself that, sure, when fancy male writers are depressed it becomes madness, like they all think they're King Lear or something. (This is the point at which a simultaneous re-reading of Sylvia Plath became not so helpful, but provided an interesting contrast.)

It was also around the time--and this was in a total fit of unabashed Crazy--that I decided to reclaim the phrase "mental illness." Man, that was a bad week.

But I guess what I really struggled with, in reading this memoir, was the notion of finding anything noble in suffering from depression. I've never felt especially noble or touched by a strange, dark power or whatever--I've spent almost fifteen years of my life thinking that I'm broken and that I should cheer up already. I know that there's no such thing as capital-D Depression, and that we all experience it differently (and maybe even differently throughout our own lives), but there was just something about Styron's tone that really irked me.
( )
  melaniemaksin | Oct 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
For the thing which
I greatly feared is come upon me,
and that which I was afraid of
Is come unto me.
I was not in safety, neither
had I rest, neither was I quiet;
yet trouble came.
— Job
Dedication
To Rose
First words
In Paris on a chilly evening late in October of 1985 I first became fully aware that the struggle with the disorder in my mind—a struggle which had engaged me for several months—might have a fatal outcome.
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Book description
"This book began as a lecture given in Baltimore in May 1989 at a symposium on affective disorders sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Greatly expanded, the text became an essay published in December of that year in Vanity Fair" Author's note.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679736395, Paperback)

In 1985 William Styron fell victim to a crippling and almost suicidal depression, the same illness that took the lives of Randall Jarrell, Primo Levi and Virginia Woolf. That Styron survived his descent into madness is something of a miracle. That he manages to convey its tortuous progression and his eventual recovery with such candor and precision makes Darkness Visible a rare feat of literature, a book that will arouse a shock of recognition even in those readers who have been spared the suffering it describes.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:40 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The author chronicles his personal battles with severe depression, and offers help to others on how to overcome this disorder.

» see all 2 descriptions

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