"Looked at as a group, it is very striking just how many noted writers, especially in the 20th century, chose to end their own lives. Some of these instances — Hart Crane, Anne Sexton, Hemingway — seem almost inevitable under the circumstances, but with others — Virginia Wollf, Sylvia Plath, Stefan Zweig — one can't help thinking 'if they could just have made it through that particular dark stretch, then maybe....' I picked this book up idly and found that I couldn't put it down."
Some of the greatest writers in the history of the art-Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Jerzy Kosinski, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Virginia Woolf-all chose to silence themselves by suicide, leaving their families and friends with heartbreak and the world of literature with gaping holes. Their reasons for killing themselves, when known, were varied and, quite often, unreasonable. Some were plagued by depression or self-doubt, and others by frustration and helplessness in a world they could neither change nor tolerate.
Profoundly moving and morbidly attractive, Final Drafts is a necessary historical record, biographical treatment, and psychological examination of the authors who left this "cruel world" by their own hands, either instantly or over long periods of relentless self-destructive behavior. It is also a devoted examination of references to suicide in literature, both by those who took their own lives and those who decided to live.
Seinfelt reveals that many authors contemplated ending their lives in their work; were obsessed with destroying themselves; were unable-in the case of the Holocaust-to live with the fact that their contemporaries had been killed; believed death to be a freedom from the horrors that forced them to create; and, sometimes, were simply unable to withstand rejection or criticism of their work.
Other noted authors discussed in this volume include John Berryman, Ambrose Bierce, Harry Crosby, John Davidson, William Inge, Randall Jarrell, Arthur Koestler, T.E. Lawrence, Primo Levi, Jack London, Jay Anthony Lukas, Tom McHale, Yukio Mishima, Henry de Montherlant, Seth Morgan, George Sterling, Sara Teasdale, Ernst Toller, John Kennedy Toole, Sergey Yesenin, and many others