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Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies (1954)

by William Golding

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
29,57744831 (3.74)1 / 729
1950s (7)
1960s (48)
  1. 153
    Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (JGKC, Panairjdde)
    Panairjdde: Two books that explore the survival instinct of people, even at youg age, as fueled by fear and lust for violence
  2. 136
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (FFortuna)
  3. 60
    High-Rise by J. G. Ballard (bertilak)
    bertilak: Two books about 'civilized' people becoming tribal and violent. However, Ballard is a disinterested diagnostician and Golding is a moralist.
  4. 60
    Animal Farm by George Orwell (literarybuff)
    literarybuff: Both of these books are allegories that make the reader question whether or not there really are differences between animal nature and human nature.
  5. 83
    The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan (KayCliff)
  6. 51
    A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: Similar outlook on youth but a lot funnier and great description of a hurricane that plays the same role as the nuclear holacaust in Lord.
  7. 52
    Robinson Crusoe [Norton Critical Edition] by Daniel Defoe (one-horse.library)
  8. 30
    Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburō Ōe (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Kinder auf sich allein gestellt - was sagt es über die Gesellschaft aus?
  9. 52
    The Beach by Alex Garland (booklove2, mcenroeucsb)
    booklove2: The Beach is like Lord of the Flies for adults, starring adults.
  10. 64
    The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (villanova)
  11. 31
    Under the Dome by Stephen King (sturlington)
    sturlington: Under the Dome is an adult version of Lord of the Flies.
  12. 31
    Friday and Robinson: life on Esperanza Island by Michel Tournier (yokai)
  13. 20
    Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: A more optimistic view of young people in a society of their own- I read this on my own from the school library a few years before Lord of the Flies was required reading, and it seemed much more reasonable to me.
  14. 10
    I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill (KayCliff)
  15. 21
    The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: A world without adults with some differences and similarities.
  16. 21
    The Drifting Classroom, Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezu (scotchpenicillin)
    scotchpenicillin: Comment des enfants confontés à une situation extraordinaire re-construisent un semblant de société...
  17. 21
    Savages by Shirley Conran (shesinplainview)
  18. 22
    Nothing by Janne Teller (meggyweg, meggyweg)
  19. 12
    After the Rain by John Bowen (edwinbcn)
  20. 01
    Orphan Island by Rose Macaulay (KayCliff)

(see all 27 recommendations)


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English (412)  Italian (7)  Dutch (6)  French (6)  Finnish (6)  Spanish (5)  German (3)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (448)
Showing 1-5 of 412 (next | show all)
I read this book first in high school but, thank goodness, on my own rather than for a class assignment. It's a pity when one's appreciation of a wonderful book is ruined by experiencing it as a chore. As a novel of ideas, it is brilliant and has always been a favorite, together with Huxley's Brave New World.

Critics usually cite Golding's Christian faith as a motivation for the book's being written, and to explain its pessimistic message that violent and sadistic impulses in our nature (i.e. original sin) will ultimately doom all civilization. I had no problem with this explanation at first. Golding was writing as a Christian: I was a Christian: therefore I accepted the alleged message, QED. Today I can't be thankful enough for the good fortune and privilege of having been raised largely in an historic branch of the church that neither dwells on original sin as often described, nor has any fondness for total depravity, penal substitutionary atonement, or other characteristically Calvinistic thinking, such as They Say inspired the author of Lord of the Flies. But in our childhood and teens, few of us are equipped to disentangle what our church actually teaches, let alone the range of what it allows us to believe, from the social soup of stereotypes, memes, and misinformation which we have absorbed by osmosis.

Only much later would I begin to distinguish certain externally imposed assumptions from all that my churchly experience had actually done to
instill or even promote. If the process never seriously compromised my appreciation for this novel, perhaps it was only because I didn't think much about it. But there was a lurking question: If the Ralphs and Piggys in the world, and all that they stand for, are just doomed, what's the point of fleeing to them or standing up for them? Put your faith in Christ as to the next world, sure, but meanwhile how shall we live in this one?

Then I chanced upon an article urging us to pay attention to the book's Greek symbolism, too. (I am very sorry that I cannot cite it.) Ralph is not good, but Apollonian. Jack is not evil, but Dionysian. Both poles are inherent to human nature and represented to various degrees in individuals. Things started to go wrong when Ralph, failing to appreciate this, insulted and tried to marginalize Jack, who in hunting for meat was meeting a genuine need, just as he declared. We, too, need our enthusiastic risk-takers as well as our clear-eyed keepers of the flame. To suggest the contrary is certainly un-Greek, probably unrealistic, and even arguably unChristian.

According to standard criticism, Ralph and Piggy are sympathetic characters partly because they are the best representatives of Christian values. I'm not convinced. Nor, I daresay, was William Stringfellow convinced, who saw very healthy theology in the death-defying bravado of circus performers. Paradoxically, the decline of Christian influence in contemporary Western society-- especially American-- has only left us increasingly risk-averse, clinging to quintessentially Apollonian developments such as political correctness, over-protective "helicopter" parenting, and the nanny state. How much more Ralph-and-Piggy-like can we get? A further paradox: just as the eventual chaos in Lord of the Flies implies, this swerve towards what may appear to be the less threatening side of an axis may actually be the greatest risk of all. ( )
  Alogon | Sep 1, 2014 |
A planeload of British schoolboys crashes on a desert island in the Pacific during the early part of World War II. No adults survive the crash and the boys settle in to "have some fun" and await rescue once their parents realize what's happened. Ralph, one of the older boys at around 13, is voted the leader of the group (which includes young children as well - "littluns" and "biguns"). Ralph is aided by a nearsighted and overweight boy callously nicknamed Piggy, who suggests he blow a conch shell to gather everyone together. Initially they all agree on some rules, and most help out, but there soon becomes a division in the group as another boy, Jack Merridew, challenges Ralph's rules.

I was never assigned to read this in school and didn't really have much interest in it. All I'd heard was that it was a dark and disturbing tale, and something about the boys eating each other (they don't, though). But when my son was assigned it in school I thought I might read it, too, since he usually likes to discuss such things with me. And I'm glad I did - it was a fascinating story. (My son also loved it).

My two favorite books are Robinson Crusoe and Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island - both stories of castaways - and the thought of being on an island and the way they overcome the challenges always fascinated me. In both those stories the castaways build up a society of sorts (even though it's only one person in Crusoe's case) that prospers and flourishes. Lord of the Flies is quite the opposite, where the group degenerates into tribes with disastrous results.

But the characters add depth to the story, as well. Ralph, the natural leader, is so happy at the beginning that he stands on his head and sees it as a chance for fun, but recognizes the importance of building shelters and maintaining a signal fire. Piggy is the most intelligent boy, but is picked on by the others for his weight, glasses, and asthma. But he's the voice of reason and supports Ralph's leadership, and his glasses become essential for starting fires. Jack, on the other hand, while also a natural leader, soon grows to resent Ralph's authority and seeks a more blood-thirsty role for his group (of choirboys, ironically) as hunters. It's Jack's acceptance of violence that undermines the democratic order. But it's this idea of law and order that forms the basis for the book - without laws and rules society falls apart. When members fail to fill their role (such as keeping the fire going, or helping to build the shelters, etc.) it affects everyone - especially the most vulnerable (littluns). And without that order maintained by the rules, chaos results.

I listened to the audio book read by the author, William Golding, and he offers a few interesting observations at the beginning and the end. I found it to be a very well-written book and full of meaning on multiple levels. It might be a bit dark and disturbing, but it was also compelling and I couldn't stop till I was done. I highly recommend it for those who appreciate a book with some depth. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
I remembered not liking this book very much when I read parts of it in early high school, and I've read a lot of negative reviews of it. And yes, this book is not perfect. Golding's writing is flowery and overly-sentimental, his imagery not always clear and sometimes confusing. The characters are not overly developed (although I do not think they are SUPPOSED to be, as they are symbols instead of true three-dimensional characters), and the book is dark and at times truly frightening.

But this is truly a good book. It is not an adventure story as it seems on the surface, but an exploration of human nature, from the tabula rasa of innocent childhood to its descent into murder and sadism.

Not only that, but on a lighter level, there are a heck of a lot of similarities and overlaps between this book and the TV series Lost, which only gets it points in my book (Similarities between LOST and Lord of the Flies...from Lostpedia). ( )
  sammii507 | Aug 19, 2014 |
Lord of the Flies - William Golding ****

This is one of those books that I have been meaning to read for a number of years. At school it was on the syllabus but for some reason we never got around to reading it, so it has been sat on my bookshelf for around 20 years. I remember seeing the film at some point so I had a vague idea of the plot and what to expect. The novel has been described as a modern classic so obviously I began reading with a certain expectation.

Reading the other reviews on various sites such as amazon, the majority of readers seem to award the book either five stars or four. These detail how the different themes of power, humanity and leadership (to name but a few) are explored and how Golding weaves these into the plot, occasionally very subtly (the Conch fading throughout) and other times very blatantly (the pig's head). The story follows a group of boys that range in ages from the relatively young called little 'uns, to elder teenagers. The arrive on the island following a plane crash in the midst of an atomic war, we are not told much about the conflicts origins. The book begins with Ralph & Piggy finding each other on the beach and when they find a conch shell, Piggy tells Ralph to blow it in order that all the survivors can hear and come together for the first meeting. From here the tale progresses into a bitter battle of leadership and the split of the group.

I won't go into the plot any more than that, other reviewers seem to have already done this, sometimes in too much detail.

So what did I think of the novel? Obviously LOTF has considerable literary merit, but I am a reader that also likes to indulge in a book for escapism and pleasure. Many so called 'classics' have left me cold in the past (even more so 'modern classics'), with storylines that have almost bored me to tears. However Lord of the Flies was something of a mixed bag for me. If I had to critique the novel, it was for me, almost split into three sections. Firstly the beginning where all members of the new society were introduced and made various discoveries of their surroundings, the middle where things are starting to go wrong and the end where most of the action is held. My main issue was with the middle, here the story just seemed to drag, whatever sympathies I had built up with the characters seemed to be placed on hold as Golding began to fill paragraphs with descriptions of the island etc. It interrupted the flow of the novel and almost made me want to put it down and pick up something else. I am glad that I persevered though because when the ending began it was dark, explosive and some parts quite unexpected. However despite the middle of the novel dragging slightly (in my opinion) the surrounding tales more than made up for this. You are dragged into the island life and can feel the fear felt by it's inhabitants.

Golding really captures the boys individual personalities, and draws the reader into a real life battle of human nature, choosing not just to uncover it's positives but also delving into it's dark underbelly.

Do I believe that if a bunch of school children were marooned on an island they would act the same way? Not at all. And this is why I think Golding is such a talented writer. Even though I cannot agree with his ideas, he still managed to capture my imagination for the duration of the book and made me part of the world he created.

Am I glad I read it? Yes
Would I recommend it? Yes
Would I read it again? Probably not ( )
  Bridgey | Aug 19, 2014 |
I had a hard time connecting with this one. It just seemed really emotionally flat to me. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 412 (next | show all)
There is no blinking the fact that this English schoolmaster turned novelist understands growing boys to the heart; one must go back to"High Wind in Jamaica" to find a comparable tour de force. The uneasy conviction persists that he despises the child who is father to the man-and the man as well. Homo sapiens needs all the friends he can find these days, in and out of novels.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, William du Bois (pay site) (Oct 21, 1955)
"Lord of the Flies" is an allegory on human society today, the novel's primary implication being that what we have come to call civilization is, at best, skin deep. With undertones of "1984" and "High Wind in Jamaica," 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 return. Fully to succeed, a fantasy must approach very close to reality. "Lord of the Flies" does. It must also be superbly written. It is.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review, James Stern (pay site) (Oct 23, 1954)

» Add other authors (42 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Goldingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Déry, TiborTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Epstein, E. L.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jessurun d'Oliveira, H.U.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perkki, JuhanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother and father
First words
The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.
His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.
Maybe there is a beast - maybe it's only us.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
When Lord of the Flies appeared in 1954 it received unprecedented reviews for a first novel. Critics used such phrases as "beautifully written, tragic and provocative...vivid and enthralling...this beautiful and desperate book...completely convincing and often very frightening...its progress is magnificent...like a fragment of nightmare...a dizzy climax of terror...the terrible spell of this book..." E.M. Forster chose it as the Outstanding Novel of the Year. Time and Tide touched upon perhaps the most important facet of this book when it said, "It is not only a first-rate adventure story but a parable of our times," and articles on this and subsequent Golding novels have stressed these twin aspects of Golding: a consummate control of the novel form, and a superb all-encompassing vision of reality which communicates itself with a power reminiscent of Conrad.
Haiku summary
Diverging lenses
To start a fire? Golding knew
Nothing of optics.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399501487, Mass Market Paperback)

William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition. --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:36 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

The classic tale of a group of English school boys who are left stranded on an unpopulated island, and who must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own nature. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic.… (more)

» see all 26 descriptions

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