Lord of the Flies


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Stars: ★★★★★

Author: William Golding (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1983)

Year: 1954

Country: United Kingdom 

Genre: Allegorical novel

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A group of English schoolboys are being evacuated during the Second World War, but their aircraft is attacked and it crashes on an inhabitated island. Kids are the only survivors, and after realising there are no grown-ups in the place, they choose a chief and get quickly organised. But this structure begins to crack and as the memory of their old ordered and civilised life begins to fade, they turn into a new one, ruled by anarchy and savagery.

Though it may not seem so at first sight, Lord of the Flies is a fable. Through it, Mr. Golding intends to illustrate a specific idea: that evil doesn’t come from something external, but from human nature itself. You can notice that many passages in the book point to that very idea when you read between lines. There are, however, lots of other interpretations to the book, and the reader is actually the one who decides what Lord of the Flies conveys. Mr. Golding explains it better in his essay Fable:

“I leave that consideration to the many learned and devoted persons who, in speech and the printed word, have explained to me what the story means. For I have shifted somewhat from the position I held when I wrote the book. I no longer believe that the author has a sort of patria potestas over his brainchildren. Once they are printed they have reached the majority and the author has no more authority over them, knows no more about them, perhaps knows less about them than the critic who comes fresh to them, and sees them not as the author hoped they would be, but as what they are.”

At the same time, Lord of the Flies is an outstanding piece of fiction. The fact that it is considered a classic doesn’t mean it is heavy or dull. On the contrary, its gripping plot engaged me from the beginning. What is more, I truly enjoyed some passages which are full of suspense, like the end of the chapters Fire on the Mountain, A View to a Death and Cry of the Hunters (also the end of the book). The images were formed on my mind as though I was watching a movie.

I love the characters of the book, since they’re all extremely interesting and pretty different from each other. The character of Jack, for instance, is awesome. I think it’s my favourite. Ralph, Piggy and Simon are also amazing. I really like the way Golding describes how they think and talk, the arguments they have, and the transformation they suffer from the time they crash on the island. He’s really a top-notch writer.

I also find amusing the fact that Golding plays with language by creating words like littluns (little-ones), biguns (big-ones) to refer to the different age-groups of boys, or Samneric (Sam and Eric) to name the twins who do everything together as if they were a single person. That is really original! He also makes up words when he cannot find existing ones for what he wants to say, like flinked or wubber. Quite curious.

I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say about this book. It is highly entertaining and at the same time, it is far much more than just pure entertainment. Lord of the Flies should be in anyone’s list of books to read before dying.

Most of the characters in Lord of the Flies (click on the image to see it larger)

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Did you know?

There have been three film adaptations of Golding’s book, one from the UK (1963), one from the Philippines (1976), and one from the US (1990). Iron Maiden wrote a song in 1995 about Lord of the Flies, and U2 used the title of chapter 7 of the book (Shadows and Tall Trees) to name the last song of its debut album. The Das Bus episode (1998) of The Simpsons is based on Lord of the Flies, and the series Lost takes lots of features from the book for its initial plot.

* All the illustrations in this article were drawn by myself and show more or less the way I imagine some characters and scenes in the book. Hope you like them :]

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– Written by GuadiRC –

9 Responses to Lord of the Flies

  1. Pingback: Books – Lord of the Flies | Glutton for books, movies & series

  2. Ben says:

    Waw Guadi! You draw this? If ever nobody has told you, it is great. I was browsing the post and say, I’ll read this later. But when I see the fly, although it didn’t have any connection to the post, I was motivated.

    Seriously though, I have mistaken, for all these months, that Lord Of The Flies is a parody of Lord Of The Rings. I mean only one word is different. Right? No one can blame me. I have my defense 🙂 What is exactly the relation of the Flies in the book? I’m curious

    I want to read this book upnext but I have already a pending classics books: A Tale Of Two Cities and Great Expectations and perhaps David Copperfield, if lucky.

    PS: It’s not surprising that we have an adaptation of the book. Why? Because almost all our movies or culture or style or manner of speaking or everything came from the western world. I am not proud of our movies, totally. Most of the movies are directed by the same director and the scenes are filled with the same notion only with different actors.

    Current Update. All our romance movies are a total RIP-OFF from a title of their theme song. Like if the theme song is Never Say Never. That title of the movie is Never Say Never. <_< Grrr!

    But I like the past movies of our countries that are now classic. :]

    But Still GRRRR!!

    • fictionworms says:

      Hi Ben!

      I must say that I had the same thought before and after buying this book: it’s the same title as Lord of the Rings except for the last word! So there’s no way I can blame you 😛

      The reason of the book’s title is revealed in chapter eight (Gift for the Darkness). The boys put the head of a pig in a stick and give it as a gift to “the beast” they believe there is on the island. Of course, the head of the pig is surrounded by flies, and I think this is why the book refers to it as the “Lord of the Flies”. But that is not just a head on a stick, it is an allegory for something, I’m not totally sure what, but I guess it is the Devil. One of the notes in my book also says that the arabic word Beelzebub is translated as Lord of the Flies, and it is one of the manifestations of the Devil.

      You should definitely read this book, I think you’ll like it a lot. Reading three Dickens’ books together seems to be too much, at least for me… maybe you could read Lord of the Flies in between? I still hasn’t finished David Copperfield, as it is really really long, but if you’re still on vacations you may have enough time.

      I knew you would say something about the film adaptation from the Philippines 🙂 Your culture comes from the western world because you used to be a Spanish colony? At least, that’s what happened to us. Argentina’s population consisted mainly of European immigrants and as time went by they all married each other and mixed races. For instance, my origins come from Hungary, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal and who knows where else. What a mix, ah? 😀 So all through history my country was strongly influenced by Europe’s culture…

      That thing about the titles of romance movies must be really annoying! xD But, what are the movies that you actually like? I mean, the classics you talked about?

      BTW, thank you very much for your comment 😀 and for your compliment as regards my drawings :]

      • Ben says:

        Oh no. I am not reading the 3 Dicken Books together. My nose will bleed, let alone my mind. Brain-bleed. It is a year-long read and I plan to read them when the class starts, including this book. :] I stumbled about this book when I searched about 21st century classics in good reads (Wait do you have one?) and it had many ratings.

        May I ask Guadi, how do you choose the books you read? I browse the site’s archive and I saw diverse choice of books.

        Yes, we are colonized for about 333 torturing years. Although I didn’t experience any of it :] but my grandfather knew all along about it. The Pearl Harbor and stuff. Oh mixed origins? Don’t the people look weird for each other? Oh is Argentina a western country?

        Some people like it, preferably girls and couples, preferably teens about the age of 14-19. I am really against the title although some movies are good, most are bad. Gaudi, guess what, ALL of our movies, nowadays are themed about love and comedy. No other genre. I like the classic Filipino movies, though poorly edited but still it depicts in what Filipino should be and not what it is trying to be. XD

        Most of us are under the impression that western countries is the model that we should follow. Even in our skin, we have a brown tint but people are using whitening, cosmetics and other stuff to be white. Because that is Americans look likes. Grr!

        PS: I noticed the increased of line height. How did you do that or is it in the theme?

    • fictionworms says:

      You mean if I have the book? Yes, I bought it a couple of months ago in a bookstore in my city. That one was easy to get as it is a classic. I saw the name repetedly on the web so one day I just looked it up to see what it was about. It also caught my attention because of The Simpsons’ parody.

      Well, how do I choose the books. First, every year in my birthday and Christmas (and on other ocassions too) my aunt gives me a book as a present. She’s a “licenciada” in Literature (like a major in Literature) so she knows lots of different kinds of books, many of them pretty unknown and rare, like Mr. Vertigo, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and The Book of Bunny Suicides. Sometimes I just look for a book on the bookshelves in my house (David Copperfield was one of them, for instance). And others, I just look for something in a bookstore or on Amazon.com. I check the New York Times Bestellers list Amazon displays and if I like something I add it to my wish list… sometimes I buy a book because I saw its film adaptation and liked it, like A Series of Unfortunate Events or Flipped (which is about to come by post :D). Anyway, I just try to read different things, it’s not that I only read one specific genre.

      Pearl Harbor? How were the Philippines implicated on that? Mmm, we don’t look weird, we just look different from each other. For instance, one person looks more like an Italian, another like a German, another like a Spanish, Arabian, or like some indigenous race… The colour of our skin is varied, as well as any other feature like the eyes, hair or whatever. Oh, and yes, Argentina is an Occidental country, it is in South America, like Brazil, for example. Look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentina -hadn’t you ever heard about my country?

      Oh, that thing about changing the colour of your skin is horrible! Don’t they look extremely fake? Applying make up of a lighter colour than your skin’s is the worst you can do, it looks really fake. And anyway, the skin tint of people from your country is beautiful 🙂 Well, people here is always sunbathing to have a darker colour, despite the fact that the sun harms their skin :/

      PS: Mmm, I don’t really understand your question. Line height? I think I didn’t change anything 😛

      • Ben says:

        I’m jealous that you have someone who encourages you to read or a book love or a grammarian or anything who loves language. When I was a kid, I spent most of my time running around in our house.

        Well, the bombing resulted to a prolonged colonization of our country, I think. Also, the bombing, on a larger scale, is the reason we had WWII. I think all of the countries are involved.

        They don’t look fake unless the person using cosmetics is an old lady, that we can’t argue – a phony. But since its the norm of our society, it all seems okay. If you visit our country, you will see billboards, from right to left, promoting various cosmetic products, mostly whitening. Oh well, that industry generates income so I guess its not the bad. :]

        I know the heard the name of country but only for a product. Argentina Corned Beef is popular in our country and I love the taste. Here for the picture: http://www.google.com/search?q=Argentina+corned+beef&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi&biw=1366&bih=679

        PS: I also want to tell you that I bought the book out of your review. ha ha. I was convinced to read the book.

    • fictionworms says:

      Argentina Corned Beef! LOL, I didn’t know that meat was exported in cans like those, it’s so funny xD Well, one of the pillars of our economy is the export of meat (also soy and other agricultural products). And we have the highest comsumption of red meat in the world 😛 In fact, in my family, we eat meat three or four days a week!

      PS: Hey! I’m so glad I made you buy the book 😀 Have you already started it? I’ll be waiting for your review :]

      • Ben says:

        Oh, really? You people don’t have canned goods like sardines and stuff? Well, if thats your economy, I see why the Argentina Corned Beef is delicious. :] Most of the average Filipino family served breakfast with corned beef and an egg. So, you have many meadows?

        I’m totally psyched on the plot of total isolation. Erm, no I haven’t but I’ll start reading it after I finish reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm. :]

      • fictionworms says:

        No no, of course we have canned goods. But not meat… that would be ridiculous as we can get it fresh at the butcher’s 🙂 That’s why canned meat is something so weird to me. Oh, but we don’t eat it at breakfast, we have coffee, tea or milk at breakfast, with cookies, alfajores, bread or anything that you buy at the bakery :] In Argentina, there are huge plains called Pampas, where agricultural activity takes place.

        I’ve always been thrilled by the thought of children living on their own. I just loved this topic when I was a kid!

        Oh, Animal Farm is awesome!! I read it for History at school last year, as it is an allegory for the Russian Revolution. I’ve been thinking for months about the review of it I’ll wrote 😀 But I’ll buy it in the original language and then I will write it.

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