Lie Down in Darkness

Everybody knew about their affair and everybody talked about it, and because of some haunting inborn squeamishness it would not have relieved Loftis to know that nobody particularly cared. Loftis is in his early 50s, married to Helen, with whom he has had two daughters. A lawyer, he has abandoned his youthful political ambitions in favor of the solace of drink.

His elder daughter, Maudie, was a cripple who died at the university hospital in Charlottesville, after her father's terrible long weekend there, leaving Helen bereft and bitter. Peyton, who is in her late teens when Maudie dies, is stunningly beautiful and obviously intelligent, but her doting father -- on his side their relationship has strong sexual undertones, and probably on hers as well -- has spoiled her so thoroughly that she expects all of life's pleasures and rewards to come her way without any effort on her part, merely as her due; precisely what anyone sees in her beyond her beauty is never made clear.

The Loftis marriage is a wreck. Early in the novel Milton is caught up in a "surge of anger and futility [that] rose up in his chest -- and sudden shame, too, shame at the fact that their life together, which had begun, as most marriages do, with such jaunty good humor and confidence, had come to this footlessness, this confusion," but things only get worse as the story unfolds. For a time Helen takes her troubles to a kindly, well-intentioned Episcopal minister, who tries to help but finds himself sucked into a place he'd rather not be:.

He thought of the wild evening after Maudie's funeral when, with Peyton absent and Loftis, he supposed, hiding upstairs, Helen had told him that everything was finished, there was no God, no anything, behold with a nod upstairs toward Loftis, and which included, he gathered, Peyton too this breed of monsters.

God, what words she had used!

Lie Down in Darkness Summary & Study Guide

Who was to blame? Mad or not, Helen had been beastly. She had granted to Loftis, in her peculiarly unremitting way, no forgiveness or understanding, and above all she had been beastly to Peyton. Yet Loftis himself had been no choice soul; and who finally, lest it be God himself, could know where the circle, composed as it was of such tragic suspicions and misunderstandings, began, and where it ended?

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Unquestionably, that passage has intensity, power and intelligence. No doubt many readers will find it, as I did four decades ago, deeply moving, haunting. Yet now it mainly strikes me as lugubrious, and so does too much of the rest of the novel. The passage quoted above about the Tidewater gossips is the exception rather than the rule in "Lie Down in Darkness. The book suffers from other problems.

Set as it is in Virginia during and immediately after World War II, it employs the racial language and stereotypes of its time and place, as do many other books reconsidered in this series. Today's reader will be startled and probably offended by its frequent use of the most common racial slur, not merely in conversation but as a descriptive adjective. Beyond that, the novel's closing scene, in which the jubilation of black worshipers is clearly meant to provide noble and uplifting contrast with the cynicism and desolation of the Loftis family, is sentimental and patronizing. It does not withstand comparison with the scenes in Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" in which the quiet dignity of the black servant Dilsey is juxtaposed against the self-destructiveness of the white Compson family.

Styron always insisted that he was not influenced by Faulkner in writing "Lie Down in Darkness," but in fact the influence is self-evident: There's nothing wrong with influence: All writers are touched by it and many benefit from it, just as do all other creative artists.

Celebrating Tales and Truth

Jun 04, Aditya Mallya rated it really liked it. I would definitely recommend this book to a specific crowd - although I can't quite put my finger on it - but it isn't meant for everyone. Retrieved February 26, Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron. Milton finds solace, for a time, in his longtime mistress, Dolly Bonner.

But apart from its almost funereal tone, what now strikes me most emphatically about "Lie Down in Darkness" is its sheer derivativeness. That William Styron was, as a young man, a supremely gifted writer, is beyond question, but he had yet to become his own man. Jonathan Yardley's e-mail address is yardleyj washpost.

Indeed I was surprised by how far Styron was willing to go with the macabre; the overtures of incest took me aback and complicated the rendering of love that threads through the novel. Despite the book's weaknesses, Styron's gifts are enveloping. This was the first of his relatively few books that I have read. It won't be the last. Digg This Save to del. I see that you wrote this only two years ago.

I too was struck by the condescension toward black folks, but kept reminding myself that the book was written in Yes, watermelon and chicken, my word. The 50 page paragraph wore on me. This book did not move forward like newer ones. I just finished the book and was looking for some enlightenment.

Lie Down in Darkness

Rudy Marloth April 10, at The Gifts of Imperfection: Sula Sinking into Toni Morrison's fiction is like sinking into loamy earth. She writes novels that are ground heels-down into a planet of soil and water and stone.

Read my review here. How does style translate, or not translate, across not only language, but also time and country, politics and personality? How does the map of the imagination match up with the map s of our literal world? Read the review here. I Kill Giants Here it is: Barbara Thorson is the eccentric and geeky young girl of great confidence who guides us through the pages.

I Kill Giants is a work of beauty. Read my brief review here. A Separate Peace The textual chatter works from the edges in, dissolving the story's substance. It has all the subtlety of a stubbed toe. Their telling is agile and nuanced; while concise, each story has a sort of lingering feel about it. One reads this book feeling as if we, like the characters peopling a post-industrial land, are on the edge--a way of life ended, or begun; the ground shaking beneath our feet; lives strained and transformed; the smallness and bigness of it all.

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This is a wild, soaring, stylized, hilarious, heartbreaking, and highly-voiced novel, one that indulges in tale-telling and, in the ample footnotes, passionate essaying. This book is a lit fire. Butterfield 8 What a bizarre book this is.

Moby - Lie Down In Darkness (Arno Cost Remix)

New Orleans After the Deluge The author's passion for documenting these tales is evident, as is his honest concern for the failures that trapped citizens in a winless game of futility and danger. But I don't really like the book he made.

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A Bilingual Edition Rainer Maria Rilke began writing Duino Elegies one hundred years ago this year while visiting -- I am not making this up -- a princess. Voice McNeil shifts between humor and the grotesque with unnerving dexterity. She plays with our expectations of gender.

Class reigns heavily on the story. McNeil collects myth and futuristic technology, and collides them together in a way that dis-locates the reader.

Lie Down in Darkness Summary & Study Guide Description

Isak Celebrating Tales and Truth. Home Archives Profile Subscribe. In a passage describing society's reaction to the affair between Milton Loftis and Dolly Bonner: Comments I see that you wrote this only two years ago. Isak Isak is a space to celebrate tales and truth in the curious, joyful way embodied by the writer for which it is named. The name "Isak," after all, means "laughter," as she was fond of pointing out. By tales, I mean fiction especially short fiction , as well as other literary and artistic narratives. By truth, I mean the world in which we live.

January 11, 2010

Lie Down in Darkness is a novel by American novelist William Styron published in It was his first novel, written when he was 26 years old, and received a. Lie Down in Darkness [William Styron] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. William Styron traces the betrayals and infidelities--the heritage of.

I especially have my eye on creative social justice.