William Styron’s Appropriation

“‘Have you read D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover?’ I had to say no.

…’Read it,’ she said, her voice husky and intense now, ‘get it and read it, for the sake of your salvation… Lawrence has the answer–oh, he knows so much about fucking. He says that when you fuck, you go to the dark gods.'”

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron is more sensitive and vividly characterized than I would have expected, but is still a manipulative, politically problematic story that appropriates the Holocaust narrative to create slightly sickly melodrama. By explicitly framing the titular “Choice” (made by a blonde Polish woman, because Styron legitimately thought the Jews were paid too much attention) as the “ultimate evil,” the novel is clearly attempting to meditate on the concept of evil, but only manages to sensationalize it. Continue reading →