Saturday, June 11, 2016

Birthday Book of the Day: Sophie's Choice, autographed 1st ed.

Today is the 91st birthday of William Clark Styron, Jr. (1925-2006), author and essayist; recipient of The Prix de Rome (1951); The Pulitzer Prize (1968); American Book Award (1980); National Medal of Arts (1993). Commander of the French Legion of Honor.

To celebrate, Henry Bemis Books offers his most famous work, in an autographed first edition:

Styron, William, Sophie’s Choice (Random House, 1st ed., 1979). ISBN 0-394-46109-6. The remarkable, bestselling tale of a Southern boy and a Polish death camp survivor who meet in post-war New York. Hardcover, price clipped dust jacket in mylar cover. Signed on the front endpapers by the owner, Charlotte NC arts maven Gladys Lavitan, inscribed to her by Styron on the half-title.  HBB price: $125.

Born to a prosperous Virginia family, Styron attended Davidson College, then Duke University, as part of an accelerated training program for World War II officers. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Marines in the summer of 1945; a month later, the war ended, and he was demobilized in December. Styron completed his degree at Duke; moved to New York; took- and then got himself fired from- a publishing job; and published his first novel, Lie Down In Darkness, in 1951.

Winning the Prix de Rome, Styron spent the summer of 1952 in Paris, where he fell in with James Baldwin, George Plimpton, and other Americans doing the writing thing; with them, he co-founded The Paris Review in 1953.

Styron spent the 1950s trying to shed the mantle of Heir of Faulkner. His books- which, from the start, dealt with difficult moral and historical issues, sold well, especially overseas. His 1967 historical novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner, was a succes de scandale in its portrayal of a19th-centuryy black slave insurrectionist: first, it was denounced by whites as a scandal, then- later- by blacks as a travesty. The book won Styron the Pulitzer Prize in 1968.

Always a slow writer, Styron did not publish his next book, Sophie’s Choice, until 1979. A meticulously researched account of the Holocaust, the book was a huge bestseller turned into a hugely popular, and award-winning, film, while enveloping its author in new clouds of controversy over his treatment of the Nazi campaign to exterminate the Jews.

A long time steady drinker, Styron gave up alcohol at 60 and found the change triggered a descent from long-simmering feelings of malaise into full-blown depression. He ended up hospitalized for some months, and from the experience produced a memoir, Darkness Visible, that made his name anew the last fifteen years of his life.


For more information about any listed book, or more photos, please contact Lindsay at Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory. Shipping is always free. #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks

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