Although Sophie's Choice by William Styron won the American Book Award for fiction, it met with some very mixed reviews. Some critics regarded the novel as bombastic and melodramatic-in short, a colossal failure. In William Styron's "Sophie's Choice," Rhoda Sirlin demonstrates that Sophie's Choice is Styron's most audacious, original, and artistically successful novel to date. First, this book will counter the many critics who have assailed the novel as anti-Semitic. Sirlin then counters the argument that Sophie's Choice is a sexist novel and that Styron and his youthful alter ego, Stingo, are misogynists. Finally, Sirlin explores the novel's powerful theme-absolute evil, showing that while insisting on the power and inextinguishability of evil in human beings and nature, Styron ultimately provides a compassionate vision of humanity struggling for meaning in an indifferent universe. Through this examination, Sirlin shows that Styron must be appreciated as one of the most audacious and humane voices in contemporary literature.
About the Author
Rhoda Sirlin is Adjunct Assistant Professor at Queens College and New York City Technical College. She is also Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute.