Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

Lord of the Flies
And now another one of those books I simply cannot believe it took me two and a half decades to read. 

As I work my way through Modern Library's 100 Best Novels lists, I am continually surprised by my inexperience with some of the books. Certainly, there are plenty of obscure titles, which I look forward to discovering without any preconceive notions. It's the untouched celebrities that catch me off guard. 

Those come prepackaged with expectations and spoiled plot twists. I attempt to approach them without these burdens, seeing them with the innocence of ignorance. I rarely succeed. These books have achieved their rank on Modern Library's ladder for a reason: they have permeated culture and, among the educated, one is expected to have a functioning knowledge of them.

So how did I make it through a full liberal arts education without picking up Lord of the Flies and some of its compatriots? 

I grabbed the audio book edition of this classic to share with Kevin and I am so grateful I did. The edition we listened to was narrated by none other than William Golding himself. He added his own thoughts on the work as both a prologue and epilogue. I always find it fascinating to hear what an author says about their books. Golding was no exception.

He clearly had recorded this edition after the book became such a success. He shared the story of how it came to be written and explained why he made some of the decisions he did. Most interesting to me, Golding discussed why he choose to cast the book with young boys. In his words, little boys are the purest representation of mankind.

Golding did not put any girls in the book because, for one, he wanted to avoid dealing with sex issues. He recognized that bringing in both genders would create dynamics and tensions that would be absent with only one gender on the island. He opted for boys over girls because he felt girls would hold onto rules and reality longer than little boys would - a belief with which I firmly agree.

Kevin's thoughts on the novel when questioned: "It was a doozy." That's it. No further context or explanations. That's my husband, folks.

I certainly understand why the book is a classic. It explores depths of human nature in ways that a story about adults cannot. Still, I never felt fully invested in the story. It may be a consequence of knowing some major plot points in advance, but I suspect my issues fell more in line with those I had regarding Ender's Game. They are both books about boys and for boys. Girls can enjoy them, but I simply don't think we will ever get the same experience from them. Don't feel too badly, boys, we have books that work the same for you.

Pages: 182
Date Completed: January 31, 2013

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