Top positive review
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Slavery breeds violence, violence breeds slavery.
on 10 January 1997
Written in 1968, Styron's "Confessions" delves deep into
the psychology behind Nat Turner's 1831 slave revolt. Almost
unbearable in its graphic violence and Biblically-dimensioned
heartbreak, the novel (for it *is* fictional) has Turner
telling the whole story in painfully honest detail. Styron
neither defends Turner nor paints him as crazy; he is less
interested in pointing out right or wrong than in trying to
understand the broad ironies of the system of slavery and its
effects on the people who ran it and were subject to it.
Styron's Nat Turner is a man who is both educated and destroyed
by his masters; he is both uplifted and misled by the Bible.
His hatred is not fueled by the hatred of whites, but by the
pity of whites. And when he kills, he is only able to commit
one physical murder, though he takes responsibility for 60.
The book is often painful to read, especially for one who
might think that race relations today have little to do with
19th-century slavery. But in its wealth of detail and its
ability to enter into the mind of a complex and criminal mind,
it is unique, and should be required reading for every
self-termed patriotic American.