- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Centennial edition (November 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780399537424
- ISBN-13: 978-0399537424
- ASIN: 0399537422
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,746 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lord of the Flies, Centenary Edition Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 1, 2011
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"Lord of the Flies is one of my favorite books. That was a big influence on me as a teenager, I still read it every couple of years."
—Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
"As exciting, relevant, and thought-provoking now as it was when Golding published it in 1954."
"The most influential novel...since Salinger's Catcher in the Rye."
"This brilliant work is a frightening parody on man's return (in a few weeks) to that state of darkness from which it took him thousands of years to emerge. Fully to succeed, a fantasy must approach very close to reality. Lord of the Flies does. It must also be superbly written. It is."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Sparely and elegantly written...Lord of the Flies is a grim anti-pastoral in which adults are disguised as children who replicate the worst of their elders' heritage of ignorance, violence, and warfare."
—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
About the Author
Born in Cornwall, England, in 1911 and educated at Oxford University, William Gerald Golding's first book, Poems, was published in 1935. Following a stint in the Royal Navy and other diversions during and after World War II, Golding wrote Lord of the Flies while teaching school. This was the first of several novels including Pincher Martin, Free Fall, and The Inheritors and a play, The Brass Butterfly, which led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983.
Stephen King, the world's bestselling novelist, was educated at the University of Maine at Orono. He lives with his wife, the novelist Tabitha King, and their children in Bangor, Maine.
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Review of the Penguin Great Books edition (ISBN 978-0-14-028333-4): As for this edition, I highly recommend it. The cover is well-designed aesthetically and functionally. The binding is tight, especially for a paperback. The deckle edges are a nice touch. The font type and spacing is quite nice, not too big or small, so that it can pack in the entire novel into 182 pages of fine-quality paper that might actually be acid-free, even if not lignan-free, versus versus Riverhead edition's acidic 272 pages. The only downside to this edition is that the margins are a bit narrow for someone like me who loves marginalia. But otherwise, I'd highly recommend this edition.
OK, I'm done sounding super stuffy now.
Golding's version is darker. It centers mostly around the corrupting power of urges to overwhelm social order. Freudian criticism abounds, but the parallel I kept coming back to was Rome. I found that Piggy, no matter how truly annoying he is (another brilliant stroke by Golding is to make Piggy strangely unsympathetic), recalled those numerous Republicans of the Early Empire who advocated in a shrill but useless manner for a return to Senate rule but were shunted aside and usually killed by deranged sociopaths who behaved quite like like Jack. But be it Freudian or historic, any framing of this book feels cheap and hollow because the story has such a complexity of primal urges that it feels almost biological.
Golding said he came up with the idea of book after reading his children "Treasure Island or Coral Island or some such Island" in the years of the hydrogen bomb and Stalin and asked his wife, "why don't I write a children's story about how people really are, about how people actually behave?" To me that's a chilling question and it reveals an architecture not based on rigid Freudian or historical or symbolic parallels. Its portrait of sadism could have been lifted out of the newspapers; its struggle for dominion over the weak is an almost sexual frenzy recalls everything I know about torture in the dungeons of Argentine or US military prisons. In this respect, I think the book, like Heart of Darkness, is timeless.
But I chose not to give it five stars because at the center of Golding's book is a kind of rigid Christian iconography, like that you find in the Poisonwood Bible, that offends me, perhaps because it reminds me of the way I wrote my Freshman year of college, or perhaps because that rigidity, that allegiance to a=b symbolic logic insults my intelligence. The martyrdom of Simon, I felt, demeaned the human quality of Simon. I liked him best because he struck me as the most shrewd and practical. Reducing him to an icon transforms him into a variable: Simon = Paul or Peter or whomever, but ergo facto Simon ≠ Simon. When he comes down to the beach mutting "something about a body on a hill" Simon ceases to be a reflection of human complexity, or biological completeness, and instead becomes a rehashed precedent from Sunday school.
I've often felt that Heart of Darkness' genius was that it somehow reflected the effect of Darwin and modern thinking on the antiquated ideas of Colonial Europe, ie Kurtz isn't good or evil because good and evil are artifices that wilt beneath analysis. When Golding adheres to this materialist perspective, the book is masterly. When he swears allegiance to worn out Christian parables, that complexity is reduced to slips of paper.
Why is this book impressive?-- because every part of it has meaning. The conch has meaning, how many times Ralph pushes his hair back, Piggy's glasses, the fact that Piggy remains nameless, the fact that Simon lives in a culvert: all of it. Not only that, the book as a whole is an allegory for society: with each main character of the book representing a major part of society. Moreover, the language in the book is precise, sophisticated, and elegant: meaning that although the book is only 200 pages, it is dense and smart. Rarely have I encountered books with this level of mastery.
As far as entertainment factor, this book was dark, adventurous, and had my attention for the whole thing. The book starts mid action, with the boys already crashed on the island. And, it doesn't take long after that before characters are clearly defined and strong emotion in the reader stirred.
My only critique with the book is with how it was transcribed into kindle format. Whoever typed this book for kindle made a few errors. For example, on page 231, the word "ulutation" is written, when it should be "ululation". I only noticed a few errors like this, and they were so few and minor that they didn't detract from the book.
On the all, a thought provoking book, entertaining, and we'll written.