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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness Paperback – 5 Apr 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (5 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099285576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099285571
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Hair-raising in the manner of A Tale of Horror by Edgar Allan Poe" (Daily Telegraph)

"As short as a hangman's rope and nearly as arresting - an essay of great gravity and resonance. Never has Styron used so few words so effectively" (Newsweek)

Book Description

'Tremendous writing - honest and illuminating' Victoria Glendinning, New York Times

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Fascinating book that explores and helps readers to understand the real depths of an illness which few can fully comprehend. As a memoir of the author's own experiences it offers a valid portrayal of melancholia, informing readers in his wonderful narrative style. With such a dark subject matter this book won't leave you full of smiles but it does leave you with a more compassionate view of melancholia and a satisfying read.
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Format: Paperback
If anyone is wondering what depression feels like, this book is one man's answer. William Styron frankly and eloquently describes the internal torment that took him to the brink of suicide, then details how a spell in hospital and continued therapy and medication pulled him back to life.
Depression crept up on Styron at the height of his career. He had seen friends give in and take their own lives in the past, but had never expected to face the illness himself.
This is the book I recommend to family and friends who want to know how depression feels. Styron says it so much better than I can.
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Format: Paperback
It was at school actually when I first read it and we never finished it within our class - I made a point of finishing it, why ?? This is why....
What I think is great is the sheer honesty which he tells us of his slide into the depths of depression, there is no hiding from the fact he went through utter hell. It's a short book - but, if you like a good ending then this is the one of you. Never, ( and I think it would take a lot to surpass it ) have I read a more perfect closing paragraph - it's immaculate. He sunms it up to perfection and if it does anything, it makes you realise.
Thanks.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best depiction of depression I have read. It makes me realise I've never been really depressed myself - although I know people who have, and this book depicts it as it must be. Moving and frightening.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Styron is not comfortable with exposing himself in this book - it is clear from the tone of the writing, and he even implies it by admitting he only decided to write it as a result of some lecture given on the topic of Depression, which brought on a mass of empathic and identifying letters.
Personally, I would've liked to know a bit more about the actual feelings and thoughts of a depressed man, rather than about his actions or life events as a result of depression. For that reason I much prefer 'Sunbathing in the Rain' by Gwyneth Lewis, which is a more internal look into the depressive experience.
Even so, this book might be helpful for people who are related to depressed people, because it might help them understand how it turns a person into a dysfunctional mush of raw nerves.
I suppose people must have been so excited about the book when it first came out, because it was written by such a well-known and respected novelist, and brought on wide recognition of a terrible desease, from which millions of people had to suffer secretly and shamefully in the past. I'm sure it helped many people decide to put everything on the table and get helped, and that in itself is a great achievement.
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By Marty From SF HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
William Styron's "Darkness Visible" is a masterpiece of observation of the human spirits decline into depression (madness). Few authors have ever so deftly and succinctly described the feelings, fear or hopelessness that surrounds this disease. Stryon makes several references to other famous literary giants and constantly wonders if he too, is destined to defeat by this monster melancholia. Is this disease more prevalent among the artists or do they simply have the tools to portray the insidiousness of its wake? Stryon's allegories and sparse use of extremely descriptive verbiage come as close to describing the experience of depression as one could ever imagine. Noted for his great work, "Sophie's Choice", Stryon continues here with a piece of work that demands reading by anyone possessing a human spirit. It's a masterpiece.
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By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Were it not for the fact that depression has cast its dark shadow over my life, I would not be here now typing out yet another review. You see it keeps my mind focused on healthier things! I have no desire to revisit that place of despair and desolation, and so I beat on occupying my mind and body in healthier pursuits. But the scars are still there, and like a dormant volcano the tremors are still occasionally felt, and there is the nagging possibility in the back of my mind that another eruption could be far more catastrophic than the last. But I am older and hopefully wiser now, and I pray that this experience makes me stronger and better equipped to deal with whatever the future may hold. Futures have an infuriating habit of taking surprising twists and turns!

Baring ones soul to public view is never easy, but far far better than suffering in silence. It is perhaps easier for the writer than those who face crowds of people more directly. William Styron is one such writer who has done so in this little book. That fine and largely forgotten writer Richard Jefferies also did so with his "The Story of My Heart". I have read Styron's magisterial "tour de force ", "Sophies Choice", about a holocaust survivor, and the awful past experiences that she has to try to come to terms with. Styron brilliantly portrays a young woman going through the turmoil of depression emanating from these past experiences. Styron admits in "Darkness Visible" that depressive illness had been knocking at his door for some time, and that it aided him when painting characters in his books. He goes on to give a very personal account of his experiences and how he dealt with his illness.
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