Books by William Golding

THE DOUBLE TONGUE by William Golding
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

The final draft of a novel-in-progress at Golding's death, in 1993, is more than a mere footnote to the distinguished work of the Nobel Prizewinnerbut far less than a full-bodied tale worthy of being judged on its own merits. In the Greece of Roman times, the young girl Arieka is recognized as having unusual abilities (such as curing the terminally ill by touching them), and so is taken from her less- than-loving parents and brought to Delphi by Ionides, High Priest of Apollo. Arieka is trained as a Pythia, one of the priestesses who have served as oracles, mouthpieces for the god, from time out of mind. Then, when the two other current Pythias die within the course of a year, Ariekathough only reluctantly acquiescentfinds herself quickly thrust into that terrifying role. With Ionides' help she shoulders a burden that includes being raped and otherwise possessed by Apollo, and she begins to restore to Delphi some of its former glory through her oracular utterances. The priest, however, intent not only on bringing Delphi back but on restoring the long-faded power and glory of Greece as well, overreaches himself: First, a fund-raising trip to Athens with the Pythia fails to gather the funds needed for expensive emergency repairs at Delphi, and then Ionides is implicated in a conspiracy to overthrow Roman rulealthough the plot is revealed to be so weak that Ionides is ridiculed and released. Unmanned, he returns to Delphi to die, leaving Arieka, in the absence of her mentor, to carry on without hope or glorywhich she does for the rest of her long life. The Nobelist's stature may have made it inevitable that this be brought to market, but admirers of Golding will recognize it for what it is: intriguing, but unfinished. Read full book review >
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
Released: Jan. 1, 1954

A fantasy is a singular - and singularly - believable spellbinder, and within the framework of its premises achieves a tremendous impetus and impact. During an atomic war, a group of boys aged from about six to twelve crash-land on an uninhabited tropical island. There Ralph, a responsible boy, is chosen chief and a certain routine established; a fire is made and to be kept going as a signal, huts are to be built, and certain of the boys are to hunt wild pig. But as the days pass in increasing discomfort, there is increasing dissension between them; the "littluns" are frightened by the untold terrors of the dark, and the fear of beasties and bogeys spreads; the duties are neglected; and the older boys, save Simon and Piggy and Samneric (twins) desert Ralph, appoint a new leader, and run amok hunting savagely. In their primitive regression, they feel they must propitiate the beast and a ritualistic dance precedes the murder of Simon; Piggy, his specs taken, falls to his death; and finally Ralph is left to face the pack when a cruiser lands to rescue them all.... A first novel, originally conceived and convincingly sustained, this should find an audience as vulnerable as its young derelicts. The publishers parallel this - not without justification - with Richard Hughes' High Wind In Jamaica. Read full book review >

The final installment of Golding's sea trilogy begun with the 1980 Rites of Passage and bridged by Close Quarters (1987). Why Golding has steered this project over the course of three full novels isn't made convincingly clear from his conclusion. In Rites of Passage, young aristo Edmund Talbot boards an unsound ship headed for New Zealand in the 1800's with the intention of becoming an administrator in the untamed wilds of the British colony. Presented in the form of Edmund's travel journel, we learn a thing or two about the miseries of 18th-century shipping, while Edmund's naive eye takes in the assorted characters of this floating English microcosm: a freethinker, a rector, officers, emigrants, naval hooligans. Mainly, though, we view the developing character of stuffy old Talbot, who, exposed daily to danger and raw humanity, evolves into a character capable of digesting large doses of life. In Close Quarters, however, the project bogs down along with Edmund's moribund ship in the southern Atlantic, the only central point of interest being Edmund's introduction to the charming Marion Chumley. The last volume here continues to chart the ruin of Edmund's ship (rivalry among the deckhands, a broken mast, water everywhere) and follows up on Edmund's fascination with Miss Chumley, now bound for India. Following innumerable digressions woven around Edmund's eccentric fellow travelers, we find him restored as a landlubber in His Majesty's colony, well-rounded if not perfect, and paired up, inevitably, with Marion Chumley. A poised, perfectly mannered construct with an authentically realized background, but slow sailing for the most part and not likely to attract a wide audience. Read full book review >