Lord of the Flies (1954) – William Golding


Five stars

Read Aug 19 2016 – Aug 24 2016

Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel by Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding. It discusses how culture fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results. Its stances on the controversial subjects of human nature & individual welfare versus the commonweal earned it position 70 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged Books of 1990–2000. The novel was chosen by TIME as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.

Published in 1954, Lord of the Flies was Golding’s first novel. Tho it was not a success at the time—selling fewer than three thousand copies in the USA during 1955 before going out of print—it soon went on to become a bestseller. By the early 1960s it was required reading in many schools & colleges. It was adapted to film in 1963 by Peter Brook & in 1990 by Harry Hook.

The title is said to be a reference to the Hebrew name Beelzebub (בעל זבוב, Ba’al-zvuv, “god of the fly”, “host of the fly”, lit. “Lord of Flies”), a name sometimes used as a synonym for Satan.

Lord of the Flies is an essential on to-read lists, and after picking up a copy at a second-hand book store I figured I may as well get into it. And I’m glad I did.

I was expecting some fucked up shit: I’d heard the movie was crazy and brutal. For some reason I was absolutely convinced that someone gets eaten, and I spent most of the book waiting for that jazz to start.

Even though I’m awful at analyzing texts, Lord of the Flies was crystal clear. I loved the clear symbolism and juxtaposition between civilisation and savagery. It felt very Heart of Darkness-y: rules are just a veneer that we adhere to for the sake of civility.

I wanted the end to be the slow but definite descent into madness among all the boys, after killing all that was left of a civilisation. However, the ending was brilliant – coldly chilling and grounds the novel back into reality.

Very clever, and very easy to read (surprisingly). Will be following up with SparkNotes for all the things I’m sure I’ve missed.


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