Front Cover
Southern Illinois University Press, Jan 1, 1982 - Fiction - 157 pages
27 Reviews

“The writing of the screenplay became an intense and extremely stimulating sort of game in which, with a camera in the hands of God rather than any mortal cinemaphotographer, I wrote the scenes one after the other as I would like to have them be.”—from the Afterword


This is the original screenplay that Dickey submitted to Warner Brothers. He had begun it with the idea of creating a work that would stand on its own as a work of art and still enhance and deepen the audience’s apprehension of their indi­vidual experience of Deliverance and its special meaning to them. When he sent this screenplay to Warner Brothers it was with a sense of having accomplished that goal—“I was convinced I had put down on paper what I wanted to happen on the screen, no matter who the director was, or the actors, or any of the rest of the crew.”


But while acknowledging the creativity, bravery, and dedica­tion of John Boorman and the actors and the crew who made the film version of Deliverance, Dickey also states that their real­ization is not the film as he would have had it. That film exists only in his imagination and within this screenplay. The story as filmed is presented in twenty-two production stills that speak of the undeniable strengths of the production that received nomi­nations from the Motion Picture Academy for its awards of best picture, best direction, and best editing. Arthur Knight de­scribed the film as “one of those rare films that resonates like a literary work but that—rarer still—avoids either being or sounding literary.” Dickey concludes his Afterword with an invi­tation to the reader to “show [the screenplay] in the wide­screen theater of his mind and compare it with the version he has seen in actual theaters, or on television.”

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bness2 - LibraryThing

Extremely well written, but a very dark story. I have not seen the movie, so I do not know how it compares, but I can't imagine the movie being as good. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - datrappert - LibraryThing

Everyone knows the unforgettable "squeal like a pig" movie, but Dickey's original novel about some Atlanta businessmen on a backwoods canoe trip who run into a bit of trouble is just about as ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1982)

James Dickey, who appeared in the motion picture of Deliv­erance in the role of Sheriff Bullard, is best known as a poet and critic, having received the National Book Award for his 1965 book of poetry, Buckdancer’s Choice.


Matthew J. Bruccoli, Jefferies Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, is edi­tor of the Lost American Fiction series and the Screenplay Library series, both published by Southern Illinois University Press.