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[ [ [ Lord of the Flies [ LORD OF THE FLIES ] By Golding, William ( Author )Oct-11-2005 Compact Disc CD-ROM – January 1, 2005
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Our story begins with a plane crash that lands the boys on this beautiful coral oasis island in the middle of who-knows-where. Immediately, Ralph, being one of the eldest boys decides to take it upon himself to explore the island and find out how many others are there. He takes a conch shell and blows through it and discovers there are various size boys displaced the same as he.
Until they can be rescued, Ralph takes a poll and asks the boys to vote who should be their chief to help guide them. Hands down, Ralph wins. It is realized very early that the littler boys are frightened and crying for their mothers, while the bigger boys begin to think of survival straight away. As they explore and learn about the island, they find fruit they can eat, while some of them ate things that weren't so good, causing them to get sick.
The longer they stayed on the island, it was becoming obvious that a shift was changing within 'some' of the boys. Ralph could clearly see that his word was no longer being listened to. They seemed to be interested in Jack Merridew and what he had to say. After all, he was about killing pigs for meat to eat, and killing anything 'else' that stood in his way. As the story advances, it becomes very clear that these young boys have turned into total savages. They reverted back to caveman days without thought or a care in the world.
Eventually, as the boys began to divide, Jack's tribe was much larger than Ralph's. Poor Ralph had no one he could confide in or help him. Jack had a thirst for blood and didn't mind spilling it--and it did not have to be a pig's blood. If you didn't follow 'his' rules, you might find a spear stuck in your chest.
I've always heard about Lord of the Flies and I knew when someone said people are acting like the named title, I knew exactly what they meant. The saddest thing of all, Golding wrote this novel 64 years ago, and here I can see things happening to our country right now! Actually, not just our country, but the world. With social media and politicians who feel it's quite all right to say and act any way they please as if this is the norm! All the laws and rights we Americans have fought so hard for to ensure an equality for all Americans, was for not. Our country is reverting back to a time I dare not think of. Hmm, see the similarities of the story and today! Who knew Golding would tell a story that would eventually come true. How terrifying is that!
Golding's version is darker. It centers mostly around the corrupting power of urges to overwhelm social order. Freudian criticism abounds, but the parallel I kept coming back to was Rome. I found that Piggy, no matter how truly annoying he is (another brilliant stroke by Golding is to make Piggy strangely unsympathetic), recalled those numerous Republicans of the Early Empire who advocated in a shrill but useless manner for a return to Senate rule but were shunted aside and usually killed by deranged sociopaths who behaved quite like like Jack. But be it Freudian or historic, any framing of this book feels cheap and hollow because the story has such a complexity of primal urges that it feels almost biological.
Golding said he came up with the idea of book after reading his children "Treasure Island or Coral Island or some such Island" in the years of the hydrogen bomb and Stalin and asked his wife, "why don't I write a children's story about how people really are, about how people actually behave?" To me that's a chilling question and it reveals an architecture not based on rigid Freudian or historical or symbolic parallels. Its portrait of sadism could have been lifted out of the newspapers; its struggle for dominion over the weak is an almost sexual frenzy recalls everything I know about torture in the dungeons of Argentine or US military prisons. In this respect, I think the book, like Heart of Darkness, is timeless.
But I chose not to give it five stars because at the center of Golding's book is a kind of rigid Christian iconography, like that you find in the Poisonwood Bible, that offends me, perhaps because it reminds me of the way I wrote my Freshman year of college, or perhaps because that rigidity, that allegiance to a=b symbolic logic insults my intelligence. The martyrdom of Simon, I felt, demeaned the human quality of Simon. I liked him best because he struck me as the most shrewd and practical. Reducing him to an icon transforms him into a variable: Simon = Paul or Peter or whomever, but ergo facto Simon ≠ Simon. When he comes down to the beach mutting "something about a body on a hill" Simon ceases to be a reflection of human complexity, or biological completeness, and instead becomes a rehashed precedent from Sunday school.
I've often felt that Heart of Darkness' genius was that it somehow reflected the effect of Darwin and modern thinking on the antiquated ideas of Colonial Europe, ie Kurtz isn't good or evil because good and evil are artifices that wilt beneath analysis. When Golding adheres to this materialist perspective, the book is masterly. When he swears allegiance to worn out Christian parables, that complexity is reduced to slips of paper.
Review of the Penguin Great Books edition (ISBN 978-0-14-028333-4): As for this edition, I highly recommend it. The cover is well-designed aesthetically and functionally. The binding is tight, especially for a paperback. The deckle edges are a nice touch. The font type and spacing is quite nice, not too big or small, so that it can pack in the entire novel into 182 pages of fine-quality paper that might actually be acid-free, even if not lignan-free, versus versus Riverhead edition's acidic 272 pages. The only downside to this edition is that the margins are a bit narrow for someone like me who loves marginalia. But otherwise, I'd highly recommend this edition.
OK, I'm done sounding super stuffy now.
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At first, the children appear to maintain some semblance of order and cohesion as they elect the discerning Ralph as their leader. He is supported by the loyal and effervescent Piggy, a plump boy who, for large parts of the novel, is ostracised and bullied by the other boys. Yet, as the novel develops, we quickly realise that Piggy is the voice of reason and democracy in the text, though his words all too often fall on deaf ears.
Golding is masterful at showing the gradual decline of Ralph’s leadership, much of which is tested by the fractious and perverse Jack, who at once embodies the primitive and megalomaniac nature of man. While Ralph stresses the importance of maintaining a fire in order to attract passing ships, Jack’s desires are far more primordial as he sets about hunting the numerous pigs that inhabit the island, as well as the mysterious ‘Beast’, a creature whose existence is both denied yet feared by the boys.
As the days go by, the governance the boys initially upheld dissipates. The words of Yeats seem all too apt here: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’. Without giving too much away, the ending is at once symbolic of lost innocence; these are schoolboys, yet they possess the same flaws that inhabit grown men.
Golding’s prose is extremely polished and there are numerous passages abundant in imagery that reflects the state of society the boys find themselves in. Golding is particularly adroit at juxtaposing the seemingly idyllic island with the anarchic primitivism of the boys.
This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to explore the great texts of the twentieth-century. It is widely read in schools but, as anyone who touches this book will discover, its relevance extends far beyond the walls of the classroom.
No doubt it was shocking when it was written but the world has overtaken it in shockability now (almost any American crime TV series, almost anything on the www). Like others in 'my' series I found this not spectacularly entertaining - although I do respect them for being perhaps the first of their kind. I found the prose to be adequate but not especially flowing - as compared to John Steinbeck, for example.
Having attended an all-male grammar school from age 11 to 18 none of the story surprised me; I imagine that if I had been at a boarding school from an earlier age I would be even more inured to the events. Maybe Tom Brown's Schooldays next.
On receiving our copy, I felt very disappointed that the notes were not included, as I believed and any possible advantage of choosing this copy had been dashed. Disappointed daughter and mother
I would appreciate any comments from amazon on this please
This is one of those rare books where the characters are not that interesting in themselves. They lean heavily on archetypes that have become cliche if they weren't already. The smart fat kid, the charismatic bad guy, the hopeful good guy trying to hold it all together. However, what the book loses in characterisation it more than makes up for with some wonderfully evocative and really powerful story beats.
A true classic worth anyone's time to read.