Sunday, December 12, 2010

William Golding: His Principal Works

William Golding is not a prolific writer. He has written eight novels, and a few other works including a play, some short stories, and a number of essays, besides a book of poems which was published early in his writing career.

1. Lord of the Flies (1954), describing the behaviour of a group of boys who have been marooned on an uninhabited island. Some of the boys continue to be disciplined and their behaviour is perfectly satisfactory; but many others shed their civilized behaviour and become brutal, reverting to the ways of primitive savages. The story is allegorical, showing that evil is inherent in human nature.
2. The Inheritors (1955), another allegorical story concerned with the evil in human beings. The novel shows the moral superiority of Neanderthal man over homo sapiens.
3. Pincher Martin (1956), the allegorical story of a naval lieutenant called Christopher Pincher Martin whose boundless selfishness includes an attempt to murder his saintly friend, Nathaniel. In this novel Golding shows a new concern with character. The theme is once again the evil in human nature.
4. Free Fall (1960), containing the autobiographical recollections of Sammy Mountjoy who seduced, degraded, and then forsook a girl, Beatrice, with whom he had fallen in love and who is ultimately admitted to a lunatic asylum. The story shows how Sammy came to be, what he has become.
5. The Spire (1964), being a complex study in human wilfulness. Dean Jocelin builds a spire which, in symbolic terms, represents the erect phallus lifted towards the girl after whom Jocelin had lusted.
6. The Pyramid (1967), a psychological study of the life and mind of Oliver who does achieve worldly success but who fails as a hero. There is plenty of comedy in the novel and there are varieties of sexual activity including incest, flagellation, and transvestism.
7. Darkness Visible (1979), showing the influence of World War II on Golding’s mind more vividly than any of his other books. The dominance of evil in this world is again the message which Golding wishes to convey to us through this novel.
8. Rites of Passage (1980). Although Golding once again emphasizes the existence of evil in the world, yet here the main impression produced is that of hope struggling with a natural pessimism. Golding here wishes to show that the spirit of good as well as evil superintends mankind and its confused affairs.
9. Close Quarters (1987), a sequel to the above.
The Brass Butterfly (1958), depicting pre-socialized man––what man is rather than what he does. The main target of satire in the play is science, particularly science’s smug assumption that it can bring about the Golden Age.
The Scorpion God (1971), consisting of three short novels. The book contains, besides the title story, two others: Clonk Clonk and Envoy Extraordinary. A didactic purpose is discernible behind all the three stories.
Poems (1934)
1. The Hot Gates and Other Occasional Pieces (1966)
2. A Moving Target (1982). The book is divided into two sections, “Places” and “Ideas”. The first section ranges from Wiltshire, through Holland, Greece, and Egypt to Planet Earth itself. The second contains philosophical and critical reflection, and some fascinating and illuminating observations about Golding’s own works.

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