It’s useful sometimes to re-visit books from one’s past.
Sometimes a second read will confirm prejudices.
On the other hand, it might inspire a change of heart.
William Golding’s modern British classic Lord of the Flies, which was published in 1954, is a case in point.
I first read it donkey’s years ago when I was still at school and, frankly, wasn’t impressed.
Dull, dull, dull was the verdict.
What the blurb says:
A plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast.
In this, his first novel, William Golding gave the traditional adventure story an ironic, devastating twist. The boys’ delicate sense of order fades, and their childish fears are transformed into something deeper and more primitive. Their games take on a horrible significance, and before long the well-behaved party of schoolboys has turned into a tribe of faceless, murderous savages.
First published in 1954, Lord of the Flies is now recognized as a classic, one of the most celebrated of all modern novels.
So, I stifled a groan when it was chosen as a book club read.
But what a pleasant surprise: first, at 225 pages, it’s much shorter than I remembered and far, far better written than my younger self believed.
It’s also unmistakeably a boy’s adventure story – albeit aimed at grown-ups and with a dark twist – and, being a Chalet School aficionado, perhaps, that’s why it didn’t appeal to my younger self.
Maybe I was also simply too young to appreciate the nuances of the tale.
Or the bravery of an ending that challenged the conventional contemporary belief that Brits would always maintain a ‘jolly good show’.
And now, having spent almost a lifetime avoiding Golding’s other novels I need to start seeking them out.
Review by Sue Featherstone.
Available to buy on Amazon.
Graeme Cumming said:
I read this at school as well, Sue, and had pretty much the same view as you, though as it was forced on us by our English Lit teacher an innate stubbornness might have been part of my resistance to it. I may well get a copy and see if the passage of time has changed my view.
Sue Featherstone said:
I was put off a lot of classics by being forced to read them at school when I wasn’t a mature enough reader to appreciate them properly. Although, it has to be said, there are some classics that don’t deserve to stand the test of time…