The Confessions of Nat Turner
The revolt was led by a remarkable Negro preacher named Nat Turner, an educated slave who felt himself divinely ordained to annihilate all the white people in the region.
The Confessions of Nat Turner is na...more
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
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
Definitely worth reading. The title was familiar to me but I never actually knew anything about the Nat Turner rebellion [1831, southeastern Virginia Tidewater]. Styron does an impressive job of making the time and place come alive.
In the second half of the novel I got pretty sick of the author's obsession with portraying Turner as being obsessed with having sex with, or raping, white women. It's as valid a hypothesis as any other of what was going on in Turner's mind, but it's only a hypot...more
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
So just focusing on what he did rather than the implications of his having done it, Styron does have a lot of interesting things to say on what he imagines it would be like to be i...more
Styron pulls it off, primarily because he lends a voice of authenticity to an actual event, the only real slave revolt in the U.S.
What follows is my MFA craft review (thus less focused on the content), but I tend to blur content and craft all the time.
An amazingly rich novel by one of Faulkner's prodigal sons. About one of the only successful leaders of a slave revolt, the novel is all plantation torment and furious thunderstorms. Building from an oppressive yet bucolic setting in Nat's early years, the novel leads the reader through the vagaries of slavery that become all the more viscerally abhorrent as the narrative unravels. Now naturally, most people know how awful the institution of slavery was, but Styron is able to paint such a vivid...more
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
Sounds just fascinating, so many content areas could be explored from this: race being the most important aspect of Nat's life, related to whether Styron had the 'right' to write about him (vs. other aspects, universal to whites, being most important); the ability...more
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
What I find interesting (again as a student of literature), is the way Styron plays with the...more
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
There is an Author's Note at the start, a note telling about an August, 1831 revolt that took place in a remote region of southeastern Virginia, the only sustained revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery. Sounds like this story here is based somewhat on that revolt. Styron says this is less a "historical novel" in conventional terms than a medi...more
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
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
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
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
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
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