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Lord of the Flies (Casebook) (Casebook Edition Text Notes and Criticism)

av William Golding

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426342,929 (3.94)Ingen/inga
A Casebook Edition containing the full text of LORD OF THE FLIES, plus notes and critical essays The material in this casebook edition of one of the most widely read novels of our time includes not only the full text of LORD OF THE FLIES, but also statements by William Golding about the novel, reminisces of Golding by his brother, an appreciation of the novel by E.M. Forster, and a number of critical essays from various points of vierw. Included are psychological, religious, and literary approaches by noted scholars and studies of the novel's relation to earlier works, as well as to other writings by Golding. The editors have also included bibliographical material and explanatory notes. Edited by James R. Baker and Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr.… (mer)
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UPDATE: I was very saddened to read this Guardian article about Golding's manipulation of the classroom as a means to inform this work. Here is the dichotomy between contextual analysis and the reading of a book in isolation. It's of no consequence to anyone but me that my previous rating is reduced to no stars, but a writer searching for plot events or people on which to base characters has a moral obligation, particularly when dealing with children, not to indulge in the seductive siren call to experience an authenticity in life with the intent of reproducing it on the page. It's one thing to write a book on previous experiences garnered as the unconscious evolution and transition from state of naivete to worldliness, it's another, and entirely reprehensible, to create situations for the purpose of observation and recording and insertion in a novel, without the consent and knowledge of the subjects forming the experiment. Worse, Golding's work has been lauded as commentary on the nature of political and social structures, as I mentioned in my review proper. That he used school children, innocent of and incapable of denying his intent, constitutes no less of an emotional dishonesty than that to which I have ascribed other authors, indeed the one to whose work I have compared his.

**************************

Is it possible to write something new or unique about a book that, despite being listed as number seventy on the 1990 – 2000 most-challenged-as-suitable-for-children booklist of the American Library Association, has graced the reading curricula of both Commonwealth and US schools for the latter half of the last century?

The short answer is no. However, I disagree with much of what passes for interpretation of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

Even if you haven’t read the book yourself, given the recent hype about another trilogy, you’ve probably heard of it. In case you haven’t, here is a brief synopsis:

At some point in time in the future (relative to the Cold War of the 1950s) a group of British school boys, ranging in ages from kindergarten to middle grade, are stranded on a deserted island without adult supervision when their plane crashes. They first attempt to continue in the civilised manner of their social upbringing, but under the primary influence of fear (of death, of loss-of-face, of lack of resources, of the unknown), the group devolves into predators and prey, resulting in two deaths before a military vessel anchors in the waters off the island and effects a rescue.

Golding juxtaposes his novel against Ballantyne’s 1857 work The Coral Island which depicted children enjoying a deserted island holiday (he used the same names for his lead characters that Ballantyne used for his). The “Lord” in the Lord of the Flies is a direct reference to God or Satan or gods, depending on your own interpretation or theological persuasion, and the “Flies” are the insects that collect on the head of a butchered pig – actually a twisted reference to a line from King Lear: Golding contends that human nature is not dependent on external influences (God, Satan or other divine entities) but rather innate – moral decay is intrinsic to humanity.

The three main characters symbolically represent the democratic leader, the intellectual, and the brutal totalitarian regime (some may dispute this, saying ‘anarchist’, however there’s more evidence for brutality than anarchy in the book – and the two are not interchangeable – a brutal regime is always brutal but anarchy is a devolution, rather than a concentration, of power). There are also supporting cast members of the prophetic martyr (hence the title of the book - the flyblown skewered pig head substitutes for the conscience/consciousness of one of the main characters) and the mindless henchman follower.

Golding’s perspectives (pessimistic) on human nature and where society is headed (a dead end) are revealed by the lack of heroic status of any of his characters. This is where I diverge in my reading from the mainstream. For me, Golding’s message is that no political system can save humans from themselves. At the end of Lord of the Flies he makes a pithy comment on the righteous and deliberately neutral nature of the boys’ rescuer – in other words, rescue to a society superficially civilised but in reality no less brutal than that of the island's transitory one.

Given the frequency with which the two titles are linked, I’d like to make some notes comparing The Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games.

While archetypes are clearly recognisable in Golding’s work, it’s hard to perceive these in Collins’ book.

Golding demonstrates how human nature deteriorates when external influence is removed – in other words, we function as a society because of state-imposed constraints, and the removal of these leads to inevitable disaster because of our base nature. His characters are consistent in their reactions and motivation within the context of their social influences, and are representative of opposing forces within society seeking to determine, control and apply those constraints. He achieves this construct by placing his characters on an island, with their own free will as either their personal motivator or inhibitor to determine their behaviour and reactions to events. Island society disintegrates until the state appears in the form of a welcome rescue.

Collins set up three characters representing a subjugated society on the brink of rebellion. None of these three characters is archetypal of alternative governing solutions. The enemy is the state (typically the evil and unsubtle state), but the motivation for the state is simply to retain power – to what end? Absolute power corrupts absolutely – it’s an undisputed picture of oppressed and oppressor, but there is no psychological or societal analysis here, subtle or otherwise, to explore the interactions of human nature in either an ungoverned state, or governed by alternatives.

The construct Collins creates is the Arena, and the characters are not free (if they were, there would have been no book) to make their own choices based on their consciences or otherwise. At any one point in time, the state can intervene directly, and does. The imperative for the characters is a fight to the death.

In Golding’s work, the state is merely a memory in the minds of the characters – their choices reflect how well the state has conditioned them to accept and act upon its definitions and constraints, under the illusion of having free will. Theirs is a fight to the death only after their social conditioning starts to unravel – there exists no direct external interference to account for the choices and actions the characters make.

Collins ends her trilogy with a replacement state that has supposedly learned from the hideous nature of the preceding regime. In other words, an ideal governing solution exists, because the characteristics of the society which precede the new government are dead and buried beneath the horrors of the ousted regime. The change of regime implies that the ghoulish inclination to participate vicariously in violence by viewing the conflict of the Arena has abruptly become a thing of the past; it is not inherent in human nature and occurred only because of its imposition by the state. In other words, none of the characters of Collins work have even a semblance of free will – it is the change of regime that results in a change of behaviour (again imposed) rather than a removal of regime. Yet the events of the book are depicted as if occurring entirely as a result of free will, and it is a literary swindle, because at the close of the trilogy the characters are convinced of the power of their choices and the belief that they have free will. They never did, they still don't, but they are depicted as if they always had.

There is nothing that can be stripped from Lord of the Flies to change its conclusions – and there is very little left of The Hunger Games if it is analysed according to the merits of Golding’s work.

Rather than choose between the two, endeavour to read Lord of The Flies if you haven’t yet.
  Scribble.Orca | Mar 31, 2013 |
Probably my favorite novel: a classic look at good versus evil and the inherent faculty for savagery that lies latently inside all human beings. Cynical and yet profound in tone, Golding attacks the notion of the "perfect savage," the idea that civilization is essentially an artificial and evil social construct, whereas Lord of the Flies argues that it is the only thing keeping us from regressing to the true and feral natures of our primitive ancestors. The central conflict takes place between Ralph, the democratic and civilizing voice of authority, and Jack, the repressed and violent voice of savagery (they can be likened, respectively, to Freud's "ego" and "id"). Meanwhile there is Piggy, a modern Promestheus and intellectual pragmatist; Simon, a compassionate "saint" and scapegoat who alone has the insight to identify "mankind's essential illness"; and Roger, a congenital sadist who represents evil in all its entirety. Inside each of these marooned British boys, as distinct as their individual personalities are, is the shared potential for moral degeneration, for violence, bloodlust, and murder. It is Beelzebub's enticing and corrupting cry for "fun" in its most visceral form; it is, quite aptly, the Lord of the Flies. ( )
1 rösta paradisiac | Mar 3, 2007 |
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A Casebook Edition containing the full text of LORD OF THE FLIES, plus notes and critical essays The material in this casebook edition of one of the most widely read novels of our time includes not only the full text of LORD OF THE FLIES, but also statements by William Golding about the novel, reminisces of Golding by his brother, an appreciation of the novel by E.M. Forster, and a number of critical essays from various points of vierw. Included are psychological, religious, and literary approaches by noted scholars and studies of the novel's relation to earlier works, as well as to other writings by Golding. The editors have also included bibliographical material and explanatory notes. Edited by James R. Baker and Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr.

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