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Rites of Passage (To the End of the Earth) Paperback – October 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: To the End of the Earth (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374526400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374526405
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Golding (1911–93) was born in Cornwall, England. His first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954 and became an international bestseller. In 1983, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
It's the tail end of the Napoleonic wars and a superannuated warship makes its way very, very slowly from England to Australia. Among the passengers are Mr. Edmund Talbot, aristocrat, headed for a term as assistant to the Governor, thanks to the influence of his patron and godfather. He keeps a journal for the latter's eventual entertainment and we are treated to his stumbling attempts to understand the nautical world. Still, he's a gentleman and that smooths his way. He has various small adventures, social and amorous, all of it lighthearted to the reader. then we meet the Rev. Mr. Colley, newly frocked and headed for his first congregation, and a very different sort of personality from Talbot, not to mention the ship's officers and men. And from there the story begins a slide into a much darker place, culminating in the "rite" of Crossing the Line, when Mr. Colley is humiliated once too often, and subsequent events result in a funeral at sea. Golding has absolute control of his subject and his characters, sucking you into a consideration of the nature of Justice, and of the division between the social orders. This is not at all a "fun" book, but it's a very affecting one.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Symes on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have not had the opportunity to read the other parts in this trilogy, but for me this novel hangs together exceptionally well as an individual story. In brief, it is written as the journal of Edmund Talbot, composed for his godfather and patron, an English lord, during a journey from England to Australia sometime during the early 19th century. In particular, it deals with the events before, and the investigation subsequent to, the death of a parson who is also on board.
Because of the setting, characters of diverse backgrounds are thrown into closer contact than they might otherwise have had. This means that notions of class and how it impacts upon individuals play an important part in the novel. Questions of faith and the effect that it has upon actions are also crucial. Ultimately this is a very human story (much as is Golding's most famous book `Lord Of The Flies') as it deals with the way that people react when put into extreme (and not so extreme) circumstances.
This is certainly a book worth reading on its own terms. However, it has also whet my appetite to find and read the other two books, `Close Quarters' and "Fire Down Below'.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on October 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I can't recall another first person narrative that is so effective in giving (apparent) authentic voice to a character as that given by Mr Golding to the young aristocrat Mr Edmund Talbot and how revealing that is of the times, the class system, dress, morality, habits, and so on, on a long sea voyage. Details of the ship itself, the characters that people it, and the events that occasion it on its journey, are masterfully drawn (so that's where - some of us - came from!) I also laughed out loud as it is richly comic as well (Dickens would have laughed out loud too I bet!) not least in the circumlocutions used by the narrator. A journey for him in a number of senses. Also one of the funniest lovemaking scenes I can recall ever having read. A joy of a novel.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wonderful prose, beautifully observed character study, as WG slips into the skin of an extremely priggish and snobbish early twenties aristocrat as he comes of age and begins to understand a little more of the virtues of the ordinary people around him. Sea journeys of that era were long, tedious, largely uneventful and extremely uncomfortable. All 3 books in the trilogy carry this perfectly: the maritime atmosphere is conveyed as perfectly as the arrogant character of the narrator. However, the tedium of the journey also comes across in the virtually non-existent plot which makes the books drag on somewhat. It is probably, though, as brilliant description of the English class system at the start of the 19th century as you will read. I believe that the books in Trilogies should be able to stand alone, if they are to be sold separately, & on that basis, this trilogy definitely fails. I'm glad I read it as a single 750 page tome.
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More About the Author

Born in Cornwall, England, William Golding started writing at the age of seven. Though he studied natural sciences at Oxford to please his parents, he also studied English and published his first book, a collection of poems, before finishing college. He served in the Royal Navy during World War II, participating in the Normandy invasion. Golding's other novels include Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, The Free Fall, Pincher Martin, The Double Tongue, and Rites of Passage, which won the Booker Prize.

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