Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
genre: classics, adventure, literary fiction
I’m knocking out two birds with one stone here. I’d completely forgotten about the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge until I saw it pop up in the list of most recently viewed posts earlier this month. Whomever stumbled across it, thank you. Lord of the Flies is also on my bucket list under “finish the Barnes&Noble classics.”
Synopsis from Goodreads
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behaviour collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories—and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.
Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic.
Amazon must have special connections that other audio book publishers do not because before Audible, I never paid much attention to the narrator. None were good or bad enough for me to note further than to put “audiobook” in the tags or comment on their pronunciation of foreign languages. However, this is the second Audible book that has a noteworthy reader. The first was Ready Player One read by Wil Wheaton. Lord of the Flies is narrated by its author, William Golding. He begins with a brief narration of how the idea came to him and his justification for excluding girls from the story. While I usually prickle at authors interjecting content before the story I want to listen to, he kept it short, to the point, and his logic made me smile. One reason he wrote about little boys was because he was once a little boy but he was not once a little girl. He then goes on to say that girls and boys are not equal, girls have always been superior. I’ll take the complement, thank you Mr. Golding, points to you already.
Golding explains that the other reason he chose little boys rather than little girls is that if you boiled society down to a single group, they would behave like little boys, not as little girls. As this is an allegory about human nature left without rules or regulation, little girls would not work. While I won’t pretend to know if, as a boy, I’d behave similarly when stranded on an island without grownups, by getting naked and standing on my head, I can affirm that would not be my reaction as a girl. Honestly I’d probably cry, convince myself and any other survivors that we’re all going to die, and either starve or be killed off pretty early into the adventure, which is why it’s probably good Golding used boys.
It was interesting watching society form and disintegrate, the war between planning and instinct. One of the most decisions of the group was to vote on things they don’t understand. At on point, some of the boys think there is a snake or monster on the island and the other boys think that’s ridiculous. They vote as to whether or not ghosts exist. Do we behave like that? I know there are groups that do, but whatever happened to the scientific method, faith, and the ability to express an individual opinion that does not conform to the group?
I appreciated it for being a classic, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Brilliant for book clubs, I do recommend reading it, but aside from that it doesn’t have the thrill of more modern books like The Hunger Games or the humor of Ready Player One.
3 out of 5 stars if reading for pleasure, 5 out of 5 stars for literary fiction readers.