William Styron has died. He is famous for Sophie's Choice
and The Confessions of Nat Turner
, which won the Pulitzer Prize. But he was also a person of uncommon wisdom and grace. In a seldom-read memoir he wrote about the bravado and fear of soldiers going into battle, and in Darkness Visible
he wrote of his own depression and alcoholism in a book which has become a classic in mental health circles. He and his wife ran with the romantic crowd that formed The Paris Review
after World War II—Matthiessen, Plimpton and all the rest—and he remained one of America's leading men of letters for more than 50 years. He could write like an avenging angel.