Author: William Golding (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1983)
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Allegorical novel
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.
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 :]
– Written by GuadiRC –