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Description - Set This House on Fire by William Styron

The day after Peter Leverett met his old friend Mason Flagg in Italy, Mason was found dead. The hours leading up to his death were a nightmare for Peter - both in their violence and in their maddening unreality.The blaze of events which followed was, Peter soon realised, ignited by a conflict between two men: Mason Flagg himself and Cass Kinsolving, a tortured, self-destructive painter, a natural enemy and prey to the monstrous evil of Mason Flagg. Three events - murder, rape and suicide - explode in the is relentless and passionate novel, almost overwhelming in its conception of the varieties of good and evil.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099285557
ISBN-10: 009928555X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 31mm)
Pages: 576
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 5-Apr-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Set This House on Fire by William Styron

US Kirkus Review » The third and long-awaited novel by the author of the critically celebrated Lie Down in Darkness, this is a complex, ambitious book which sets out to explore the limits and varieties of good and evil and in the process presents a picture of recent American life which is drawn in compelling detail and with strong authority. A vigorous, alive book, in spite of its exhibitionism and shock, is totally unlike the author's first book in its quality of nihilism and a certain stoicism. The story is told from the points of view of two characters: Peter Leverett, a young New York lawyer who has felt vaguely responsible for the violent death of his wealthy friend, Mason Flagg, years before in Italy, and Cass Kinsolving, an American alcoholic painter who was mysteriously involved with Flagg. From the vantage point of the present, the two men reconstruct, together, the events which led to the rape and murder of an Italian peasant girl with whom Cass was in love and the supposed suicide but actual murder of the self-indulgent and egotistical Mason Flagg. If, essentially, William Styron demonstrates only the impossible complexities of the problem of evil, of guilt and retribution, he does succeed brilliantly in the creation of character and in a series of tableaux he manages to present absolutely devastating portraits of a special kind of American in Europe, of segments of a lingering Southern culture, the cultural avant-grade in New York and the particular, peculiar characteristics of the purveyors of mass culture and entertainment. Too sensational for many, this will be widely read and much discussed. (Kirkus Reviews)

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