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.
The New York Times :
Compelling...harrowing...a vivid portrait of a debilitating disorder...it offers the solace of shared experience.
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.
Chicago Sun-Times :
A chilling yet hopeful report from a mental wilderness into which one in ten Americans disappears...enlightening...fascinating.
A great novelist describes his devastating descent into depression, taking the reader on an unprecedented journey into the realm of madness. The author of Sophie's Choice was overtaken by persistent insomnia and a troubling sense of malaise--the first signs of a deep depression that would soon engulf his life and leave him on the brink of suicide.
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.
Cope21@aol.com from West Des Moines, IA , 01/16/98, rating=10:
Styron is brilliant!
Anyone who is affected by either the disease of alcoholism, anxiety, or depression must read this autobiography. Styron explains what so many people have tried to do. He tells about each of these diseases from first hand experiences. He shares all of his fellings with reader, he does not hold anything back. Styron sharing all of his true feelings is what made this book so rememberable. It puts the reader in the eyes of a severe alcoholic depressant. Styrons great description can help anyone see what it might be like to suffer from the terrible effects of alcoholism, depression, and anxiety.
email@example.com from Birmingham, AL , 01/03/98, rating=10:
A courageous and noble memoir of a misunderstood disease
In this 83-page memoir, William Styron provides an indispensable education for those who have not experienced depression, a consolation of shared experience for those who have, and an essential read for those who treat the disorder. Styron attacks the popular confusion of the more mundane varieties of depression with the crippling effects of severe mood disorder. Although one of the themes is the inability of those who have not been severely depressed to understand the disorder, Styron comes as close as may be possible to writing an account that may help achieve that understanding. A courageous, noble and beautiful book.
CraftyTJ@mailexcite.com from Redondo Beach, CA , 11/22/97, rating=10:
This book captures depressions engulfment of your very being
Mr. Styron is able to capture the uttermost desperation of a person suffering from depression. He is able to express so artfully and skillfully the pain associated with this illness. Even though depression is such a mind and spirit paralyzer, this book helps one realize that with proper treatment a person can win the battle against depression.
A Reader from Atlanta , 11/12/97, rating=8:
This book should be required reading for everyone who is close to someone suffering from depression. Mr. Styron's description of his illness sheds light on what depression is really like in a way that most depressed people can't articulate. Read it during the depression so you can better understand what your loved one is feeling.
A Reader from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania , 10/20/97, rating=9:
An excellent example for us all
He tells his story with brutal truthfullness, which is hard to find. I am tired of simply hearing that "it will all be all right." This booked dealt with personal facts and showed me that this is a livable disease.
firstname.lastname@example.org , 08/01/97, rating=10:
If you're reading this now it's a good idea to buy this book
If you've tracked down this book, you are probably wondering if you or someone you know is battling depression. If this is the case, you will not find a more thoughtful, more profound, or more lucid an introduction to the subject of the ravages of depression than this. It offers the solace of shared experience and the quiet strength of a survivor. It is a book to be re-read over and over again and cherished for the hard truths it shows.
David Chun (email@example.com) , 04/12/97, rating=10:
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is a William Styron piece that describes in vivid detail his experience with clinical depression. Styron takes the reader into his mind, and the reader is able to feel the extreme pain that Styron had experienced. One of the most telling scenes was when he had learned that his friend had commited suicide by "putting a bullet into his head." This piece is quite educational as well. This book puts into light the severe and dangerous aspects of depression, and Styron also impresses the reader with his vast knowledge of the disease by his own mmedical research. This book is simply magnificent, and I challenge anyone to put it down after beginning the book.
A Reader, 04/06/97, rating=10:
Darkness Visible speaks straight to the heart . . .
This 84-page page masterpiece gives more insight into the personal torture that is depression than any psychological text. The candor, honesty and startling ability to explain the unexplainable allows the reader to grasp what true depresssion is like. A wonderful book.
MARYTHERES@aol.com (Mary T James) , 03/12/97, rating=10:
Moving description of depression relating true understanding
This moving description helps even non-sufferers of the disease to better understand the feelings of those who struggle with depression. It offers some hope for the future and a reason to hang in there and support loved ones who have given up on themselves.
A Reader, 06/13/96, rating=4:
If you know someone who suffers from depression and want a clue into what the experience is, this is the book. I myself suffer from depression and was always had pressed to explain to another what it was like. Styron does not have difficulty doing it. "Feeling the wind from the wings of madness"