Sophie's Choice

Front Cover
Modern Library, 1998 - Fiction - 599 pages
29 Reviews
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

"[One morning] in the early spring, I woke up with the remembrance of a girl I'd once known, Sophie. It was a very vivid half-dream, half-revelation, and all of a sudden I realized that hers was a story I had to tell." That very day, William Styron began writing the first chapter of Sophie's Choice.
    First published in 1979, this complex and ambitious novel opens with Stingo, a young southerner, journeying north in 1947 to become a writer. It leads us into his intellectual and emotional entanglement with his neighbors in a Brooklyn rooming house: Nathan, a tortured, brilliant Jew, and his lover, Sophie, a beautiful Polish woman whose wrist bears the grim tattoo of a concentration camp...and whose past is strewn with death that she alone survived.
   "Sophie's Choice is a passionate, courageous book...a philosophical novel on the most important subject of the twentieth century," said novelist and critic John Gardner in The New York Times Book Review. "One of the reasons Styron succeeds so well in Sophie's Choice is that, like Shakespeare (I think the comparison is not too grand), Styron knows how to cut away from the darkness of his material, so that when he turns to it again it strikes with increasing force....Sophie's Choice is a thriller of the highest order, all the more thrilling for the fact that the dark, gloomy secrets we are unearthing one by one--sorting through lies and terrible misunderstandings like a hand groping for a golden nugget in a rattlesnake's nest--may be authentic secrets of history and our own human nature."

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Styron's writing is horrid! - LibraryThing
Styron is a very sophisticated writer. - LibraryThing
I don't even know where the plot was going. - LibraryThing

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Lisa.Johnson.James - LibraryThing

This is going to be one of those hard to forget books. Having never seen the movie that was made from this book, I have nothing to compare it to. The book does start out a trifle slow, but rapidly ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - loewen - LibraryThing

I really enjoyed this, and although I found the characters to be highly unlikable, I still found myself enjoying the prose, the feeling of Brooklyn in 1949 and the historical tidbits scattered throughout. Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
7
Section 3
11
Copyright

46 other sections not shown

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About the author (1998)

William Styron, 1925 - William Clark Styron was born June 11, 1925 in Newport News, Virginia to William Clark Styron, a marine engineer, and Pauline Abraham Styron, who died when he was thirteen years old. He was a descendent of the Stioring family that arrived in Virginia in 1650. He attended Duke University and took courses at the New School for Social Research in New York City, which started him on his writing career. Styron was a Marine lieutenant during World War II and while serving during the Korean War, was recalled from active duty because of faulty eyesight. In 1953, he married Rose Burgunder in Rome and they had four children. During high school, Styron wrote short stories for the school's newspaper. While attending college, he wrote poems for the literary magazine. After leaving the service, he helped start a magazine called the Paris Review in the city of lights and remained as an advisory editor. Styron's first novel was "Lie Down in Darkness" (1951) and was followed by "The Long March" (1955). In 1960, he published "Set This House on Fire," which tells how American expatriates got along in Italy during the 1950's. "The Confessions of Nat Turner" (1967), which won the Pulitzer Prize, tells the story in the narrative voice of the real life black leader during the 1831 slave uprising in Virginia. Perhaps the novel he's best known for is "Sophie's Choice" (1979), which tells the story of Sophie, who, during the Holocaust, had to choose between one of the lives of her two healthy children. The novel was made into a movie in 1982 and won the American Book Award. "A Tidewater Morning" (1993) is a short story that tells of an elderly former slave who travels by foot back to Virginia to be buried where he grew up. The movie Shadrach is based on this story, and Styron wrote the screenplay with his daughter. Styron has also written nonfiction and include the titles "The Quiet Dust and Other Writings" (1982) and "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" (1990).

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