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William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, June 1, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this trenchant portrait, British critic Carey weaves masterful readings of Golding's work with intimate details about his life. Drawing on newly available materials-including Golding's never-before seen journal-Carey chronicles Golding's life from his relatively isolated and unhappy childhood, and his struggles as a young writer trapped in a schoolteacher position, to his winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. Such early praise elevated Golding's first novel to heights that made the novel became better known than the novelist. Despite praise, Lord of the Flies was not an immediate bestseller. Golding's subsequent novels (among them The Inheritors and Pincher Martin) fared little better with critics and booksellers-until 1958, when literary critic Frank Kermode praised Pincher Martin as the work of a philosophical novelist whose great theme was the Fall of Man. As a writer-in-residence at Hollins College in America, Golding had finally earned enough success to be published in paperback. In spite of his glory, Golding remained sensitive throughout his life, battling fears of being alone in the dark, the supernatural, insects, and writing (as Carey elegantly enunciates, Golding's greatest fear was of not writing; he continued writing to postpone the terror of having nothing more to write).
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Lord of the Flies may be one of the most powerful (and widely taught) novels in postwar English literature, but until now, a comprehensive biography of William Golding has not been available. One suspects this may be because of the sheer difficulty of attaining some sort of perspective on the writer, whose complicated personality and enigmatic, symbol-laden works present prospective biographers with a formidable literary-psychological knot. And yet Carey’s biography soars, presenting a nuanced and sensitive portrait of the small-town schoolteacher with a proclivity for Greek mythology and abiding class issues, the wartime ship’s captain perennially drawn to the power of the sea, and the extraordinarily talented (if often blocked) writer who used fiction to plumb the murky depths of his subconscious. Recognizing Golding as a literary outsider and embracing him as such, the anti-elitist Carey (The Intellectuals and the Masses, 2002) may be the perfect explicator for Golding’s life; he also enjoyed the benefit of 5,000 pages of Golding’s diaries, which, including summaries of his dreams, seem to have helped sew together Golding’s life and art. Likely to lead Lord of the Flies fans to Golding’s other works, this book is highly recommended. --Brendan Driscoll

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439187320
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439187326
  • ASIN: B0048ELF7Q
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,744,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You know what to expect in advance from John Carey. With any other author, that would be a bad thing. With Carey, it's part of his integrity. In the introduction to Original Copy, his 1987 selection of reviews and journalism, Carey reminds that us that 'given the nature of subjective nature of literary judgement, the reader has a right to know what sort of person will be laying down the law in the rest of book - what his quirks and prejudices are, and what sort of background has formed him.'

So with this, Carey's long (and eagerly) awaited biography of Golding, you expect the law to cheer on grammar schools, vegetable gardening and divided personalities, and sneer at snobbery, Dons and magical thinking. Golding's dabbling with anthroposophy, you think, is in for a particular thrashing. And as for Golding's public-schooled contemporaries at Brasenose College....

But that's half the fun, of course. Flaubert said that when you write a friend's biography, you must do it as though you were taking revenge on his behalf. Whether you agree that Golding was the abject literary outsider that Carey makes him out to be, you still share his partisan sense of outrage. Take the film critic C.A. Lejeune's response, in chapter fourteen, to Pincher Martin: 'To me it belongs to a class of reading that I deplore, which looks at nothing except what I call the underbelly of the human body, and it sees nothing except what I call the nasty side of it, the horrid side of it.' Behind that you can hear the objection of every person who has ever junked a great book because it's 'too grim', 'depressing' or - this above all - 'doesn't teach me anything'. Carey's response makes gratifying reading, as does his response to Auberon Waugh ('so clearly the voice of a Young Turk eager to make a splash').
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I read "Lord of the Flies" when it was first published, then "The Inheritors, "Pincher Martin," and "The Spire," but then I moved away from England and for whatever reason missed the subsequent books by Golding, although I had been deeply affected by all of these earlier works. This biography is a truly wonderful book. I must thank the author for helping me to understand William Golding, who was a very complex character and would surely defy a more superficial treatment. I was astonished by the insights that he gathers from the slightest of clues and by the detailed research and care that uncovered them. And although he often prefaces the more indirect inferences with disclaimers, they have the ring of truth to me. If they are not in fact true, they are totally in character. But most of all I must confess how delighted I am to learn of the other books that Golding wrote. I look forward to renewed acquaintance with this uniquely gifted author thanks to John Carey, for whom I have nothing but praise and thanks.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first authorized biography of William Golding, one of the 20th century's greatest novelists. Golding, who died in 1993 aged 81, was a prolific novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. Sir William (he was knighted in 1988) was best known for `Lord of the Flies', his first published novel.

This biography was written by John Carey, the literary critic and English literature professor at Oxford. Professor Carey was given access to the previously private archive of Golding, which consists of three unpublished novels, two autobiographical works and a journal of over two million words. While Professor Carey had a wealth of information to work with, it must have been difficult deciding what was most relevant.

After reading this biography, I am moved to read more of Golding's novels, and to reread others. William Golding lived a full and interesting life but it seems that he was often paralyzed by self-doubt and was unable to appreciate the strength of his own writing gift. I have yet to read `Pincher Martin' `The Spire' and `Rites of Passage'. I will reread `The Lord of the Flies' and `Darkness Visible' with a greater appreciation of the man behind the novelist.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: Kindle Edition
I noticed this book and decided that I didn't know about William Golding, and that was John Carey's intent when he titled the book. Carey's well researched and indepth work shows that Golding is more than just the author of "Lord of the Flies." But Carey does too well in explaining the man. He quotes Golding describing himself and Lord of the Flies, "What a good book Lord of the Flies is. I've just re-read it and am quite convinced I never wrote it. I'ts much bigger than I am." The reader of this book must agree with Golding himself: he is a vile, little man who is abusive and difficult. Carey does his job, perhaps too well.
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