Le confessioni di Nat Turner
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Le confessioni di Nat Turner

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  7,943 ratings  ·  260 reviews
La rievocazione della disperata rivolta nera scoppiata in Virginia nel 1831 fatta in carcere al suo avvocato dal capo dei ribelli. La presa di coscienza di uno "schiavo" delle condizioni in cui è costretta a vivere la sua gente, e la conseguente decisione di compiere una sanguinosa vendetta.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 1990 by Leonardo (first published 1967)
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Warwick
This book caused quite a controversy when it came out in 1967, and judging from some of the reviews here and on Amazon, it's continuing to do so. I didn't know about any of that when I started it, but the more I read the novel, the more dissatisfying and even irresponsible it started to seem.

Some have traced the outcry which followed its release to the simple fact that a white Virginian author was writing his way into the mind of a 19th century black slave, but that is hardly the issue. The book...more
Karen
Much has been made of this book, with criticism ranging from the extreme charge of racism to the milder implication that Styron, as a white man, could not capture Nat Turner's "blackness" the way a black writer could have. I don't wish to address this book within the context of these controversies. Styron may not have been able to capture Turner's blackness the way a black writer could have (as an Asian-American woman myself I will never know), but he did capture Turner the man in a way only a g...more
Scott Axsom
By turns breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreakingly poignant, William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner ranks among the most beautiful novels I’ve read. Though unavoidably polemical, the book is nonetheless a deeply stirring contemplation of man’s place in the universe and his duties to his fellow man.

The story is told through the eyes of a man convicted of leading one of the most notorious slave revolts in US history. He is a man of God, and the book explores the circumstances that broug...more
Jonfaith
During my arrogant youth I signed up for a History of Slavery course, you know, so I could marshall evidence against the man. I went the first day, inspired by Huey Newton, wearing a Ziggy Marley t-shirt, cargo pants and my Barca soccer cleats. I entered the room with Wretched of the Earth prominently displayed and discovered that the class was 80 percent black. This is southern indiana, mind you. I tried to participate and often did, the undertow of history kept clipping my thoughts and outburs...more
Leah
[Review written by my younger self]
Why is a novel that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 on my "Hate" list? Author Styron has no question about the important presence his novel has; he states that he is giving readers a fictional presentation of the actual history surrounding our title "character" in 1831. With this, Stryon takes on a certain authorial latitude that can be easily misconstrued with actual history.

I can understand the message Styron wishes to communicate. He presents the historical p...more
Carol Storm
Terrible book. Just as dishonest as Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND -- but not nearly as entertaining.

William Styron's problem is that he's rotten with self-disgust, and trying desperately to vindicate the guilty south. This book isn't really about "discovering" a new truth about "the Negro," but rather about trying desperately to keep his own illusions intact.

Here's what William Stryon wants to believe:

Slavery, while a terrible curse on both races, cannot be blamed on the South. Especia...more
Chad Bearden
I won't really go into whether or not Styron has the right, as a rich white guy, to tell the story of the black slave, Nat Turner. Nor will I engage with those who cry foul at the historical accuracy of these "Confessions". Those that harp on such things are missing the point of this work.

To the extent that 'the point' is obvious (which it isn't, necessarily), Styron seems to have set out to explore the true story of a fascinating event in the history of American slavery, and to use it to descri...more
Jim
I'm tempted to give this 1 star, but it does hold some historical perspectives that are worth reading. Just be aware that Styron twisted some facets of history around & subscribed unsupportable motivations to Turner, a religious fanatic & a lunatic, by his own words to Thomas Ruffin Gray. Gray was the lawyer who sat down with Turner while he was awaiting execution & wrote the first 'Confessions'. It's available as a free download & should be read by anyone who reads this book, pr...more
Cynthia
Styron's Nat Turner seems to be awash in controversy which makes me hesitate to throw my opinion onto the pile but what they hey? I thought the book well written. It showed another facet of possible antebellum history. Styron threw in the old chestnut of a black man lusting after a white woman which made my head ache. The book opened up a complex set of moral issues for me. Who would condone murder but then who in their right mind would own another person? To juxtapose this book I'm also reading...more
L
This was both more entertaining and more graphic than I was expecting it to be. I expected some kind of dry, fact-by-fact account of an event in the history of the U.S. Instead, this book brought Nat Turner to life for me. The author states in the foreword that he had very little to draw from when creating the novel; therefore, he took liberties.

I have no idea why this novel (fiction, mind you) is labeled "racist" by so many. I found myself caring for Nat and although not condoning his actions a...more
Christopher Conlon
At the height of his fame, William Styron was one of America’s pre-eminent novelists, his name invariably present in any list of the luminaries of the post-World War 2 generation of Big Male Writers: Saul Bellow, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote et al. Yet like some of that group (James Jones comes to mind), Styron’s star has to a large degree faded. Some of the diminishment may be due to the fact that he was never prolific, and his reputation must stand or fall on a tiny...more
Bradplumer
My gut first reaction to The Confessions of Nat Turner was something likewow, holy f---, this is brilliant. Then I started flipping through some of the contemporary reviews, the historians who thought Styron's portrayal of a slave revolt in the 1830s was "psychologically sick" and "morally senile," who said Styron himself possessed a "vile racist imagination."

Oh no.

So... after thinking about it for a bit, here's what I'd say. One way to look at the long, angry controversy around The Confessions...more
Dale
A controversial winner of the 1967 Pulitzer Prize

Here we are, 34 years later and The Confessions of Nat Turner is still in the news. Most recently, Henry Louis Gates, Jr made comments (positive ones, now. Originally negative impressions, years ago) about the book. The primary controversy is quite simple - how can a white man, a southerner, and the descendent of slave owners write a novel about one of the few slaves who actually stood up and demanded his freedom by leading a rebellion? Some have...more
Karen Chung
Jan 15, 2011 Karen Chung rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a racist.
Leave it to Styron to write a first-person perspective narrative of a black slave. If you want to revisit the offensive stereotype of a black man constantly fantasizing about sexually assaulting innocent white women, then go ahead and read it. I have no idea why this book won a Pulitzer.
Stephen
With few exceptions (OK one really) I am always disappointed and let down by historical fiction. The lone exception was "Burr" by Gore Vidal which was great because so little is actually known and documented about Aaron Burr. "The Confessions of Nat Turner" started out promising for the same reason. Nat Turner led the only large scale slave rebellion in the US during in 1830's in Virginia. The only historical account is a 7000 word confession transcribed by a court appointed attorney (who was hi...more
Dominic
The Confessions of Nat Turner is my first Styron novel, and it proves that Styron is a true writer's writer. It is undeniable that he composes some utterly breathtaking prose. As for the story, which takes the scant historical fact of slave rebellion leader Nat Turner and turns it into a bold feat of writerly imagination, it is disturbing, haunting, and totally engrossing. In a way, Nat Turner is the link connecting two other masterworks of Southern Literature (a genre fast becoming my favorite)...more
Lisa
Brutally hard to read the copy of this I had with my blind eyes. I preferred HBS representation but enjoyed Styron's take also. Had no clue this book was and is so controversial - but not surprised. I might have been had it not been for the recent Zimmerman trial and the media bringing to light and maybe baiting a bit a great racial tension today. In 2013. The controversy is related to Nat's sex and fantasy relationships but also because he had a lot of nerve in the midst of the civil rights mov...more
Jennifer Hughes
I think I'm giving up on Pulitzers. I've seen so many now that have very few redeeming qualities and just are rotten reading. So here are "The Confessions of Jennifer Hughes":
Section 1: Hmm. Seems like a really interesting novel based on true historical events of the only effective, sustained revolt in the history of American slavery. I'm thinking 4 or maybe 3 stars here.
Section 2: Confusing, circular method of story-telling. I'm losing interest. Down to 2 stars.
Section 3: Aagh! Horrifying, grue...more
Regina Lindsey
The Confessions of Nat Turner is the fictionalized account of the motivations behind the only organized slave rebellion in U.S. history. History leaves very little documentation about the man behind the rebellion, leaving virtually a blank canvass for Styron’s imagination. All we know is that Turner, a zealously religious man, led an uprising in 1831, that killed 55 white people (men, women, and children dead) and of those dead only one young, white woman’s death is directly attributable to Turn...more
Erin

I've read Sophie's Choice a long time ago and before this book and I marvel at the fact that an author can ask us to accept so many questions and contradictions that are never resolved, and we are yet inevitably satisfied. In fact we close the book looking more closely at our own mysteries and suddenly start thinking of them as less than mundane.

In 1831, a black slave sits in a jail cell, after leading a slave revolt that let over 50 whites dead, contemplating his impending and running over the...more
Tim
Of William Styron's four main works of fiction (meaning, in this case, full-length novels), the Pulitzer-winning "The Confessions of Nat Turner" is my least favorite. It's still pretty damn good; that should give you an idea of what I think of Styron.

People have thrown stones at Styron for years over his portrayal of Turner, who supposedly was acting on a mandate from God in leading a slave uprising. You know, white guy writing in first-person as a black man, taking liberties with history. The...more
Hal
William Styron's "The Confessions of Nat Turner" most represents a real work of historical fiction, as opposed to what so often passes for the genre today. He ranks right up there in my opinion with C.S Forester, E.M. Forester and Sharon Kay Penman.

Unlike most authors of the genre, who merely write a novel and place it in an earlier era, Styron writes of a real man who lived and died. Relatively few records of the 1831 slave rebellion exist today. However, Styron worked from the sparse data that...more
Lynn Demarest
The novel is a first-person recounting of the life of Nat Turner, leader of a failed slave rebellion in 1831.

Despite its relatively flattering depiction of Turner -- during the rampage Nat manages to kill only one white, a mortally injured woman who begs him to end her suffering -- Styron was accused of bigotry. How anyone can get that impression from reading this story is beyond me, but I'm often befuddled by people.

Two things in the book came off as false. First, a slave owner is upset becaus...more
Michael
It's not for me to comment on the debate about this book stirred by Black Nationalists, much as I guess it wasn't for Styron to try to participate in a debate on black liberation in the 1960s when Black Nationalism was coming into its own.
Regardless, this is a great book, which maybe after all these years can get a reading. If it were written by an African-American writer it might be considered one of the American classics. So many of the points it makes could have been rallied to during the 196...more
Mike
An amazing story...written in such a way that the tension builds and builds and finally explodes in Turner's killing of Margaret Whitehead.

I suspect that this novel had the effect of a bomb when published...for so many reasons. Firsst of all, a white man writing from the point of view of a black man in the 1960s must have been controversial. Furthermore, the black man that Mr. Styron chose to inhabit was a man who stirs great emotion on both sides of the racial line.

What was most shocking and ef...more
Lis
I could definitely see why this book was controversial. It is based off of, as the title suggests, the confessions of Nat Turner, the slave who led a rebellion in Virgina and I believe claimed to have done so after been given signs from God. It does not claim to be completely accurate as it has to take huge liberties to tell the story from Nat's point of view, and one can only guess the confessions, written by someone other then Nat, were probably not terribly accurate themselves.

Nat, as the nar...more
Brett
Wow, that was heavy man. Not sure exactly what to say about this book. Throughout the reading I had constantly shifting loyalties - finding it difficult to choose the bad guys and the good guys. Ultimately I decided that there is no good and bad only flawed humans doing what they thought was Gods will. This is a unique historical novel of a true event which took place in the 1820s-30s in Tidewater, VA of a slave revolt...but what a great job Styron does inventing his imagined voice of the charac...more
Michael
Styron's prose is exciting, but as with so many American lyrical realists, he sacrifices voice for erudition, which is entertaining, but in the end, disingenuous (even for fiction) and forgettable. The Confessions is more of a defensive of Styron's Virginia tidewater than a believable narrative of a slave revolt.

Notes:

Nat appreciates and elaborates on the lush beauty around with a keen eye for nature and the gritty decay of bodies and cloth and the disparity between inner thought and speech. Nat...more
Kecia
This was a powerful book, one that will stay with me for a long, long time.

I was recently watchig the PBS series on the Abolitionists. In one of the programs they made a passing reference to the slave uprising led by Nat Turner. Wait? Nat Turner? Isn't that the name of one of the books on Time's 100 Best Novels list. Yes. I had never heard the story of Nat Turner. My curiousity sparked, I moved The Confessions of Nat Turner to the front of the line.

Before I started reading I surveyed reviews her...more
John Bunyan
I stopped reading half way through. I wanted more of actual exploration of Turner's real story and motivation. Styron explains in the afterward that there is not enough information to do that, so my disappointed on that part is my own fault. Styron also explains that Turner was a madman, a religious fanatic of the demented kind. He portrays him as a much more reasonable man in order to explore slavery and how it might have influenced a man to rebel and slaughter even kind owners. That's reasonab...more
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Tackling the Puli...: The Confessions of Nat Turner (William Styron, 1968) 7 21 Jul 08, 2014 09:05AM  
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William Styron (1925–2006), born in Newport News, Virginia, was one of the greatest American writers of his generation. Styron published his first book, Lie Down in Darkness, at age twenty-six and went on to write such influential works as the controversial and Pulitzer Prize–winning The Confessions of Nat Turner and the international bestseller Sophie’s Choice.
More about William Styron...
Sophie's Choice Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness Lie Down in Darkness A Tidewater Morning Set This House on Fire

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