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Lord of the flies by William Golding

Lord of the flies (original 1954; edition 1975)

by William Golding, E.L. Epstein (Foreword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
29,83545130 (3.74)1 / 735
Title:Lord of the flies
Authors:William Golding
Other authors:E.L. Epstein (Foreword)
Collections:Your library
Tags:Inkish literature

Work details

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

1950s (6)
1960s (224)
  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. 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.
  13. 31
    Friday and Robinson: life on Esperanza Island by Michel Tournier (yokai)
  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
    House of Stairs by William Sleator (MyriadBooks)
  20. 01
    Orphan Island by Rose Macaulay (KayCliff)

(see all 26 recommendations)


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English (415)  Italian (7)  Dutch (6)  Finnish (6)  French (6)  Spanish (5)  German (3)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (452)
Showing 1-5 of 415 (next | show all)
Maybe there is a beast… maybe it's only us

Yeah, that quote just about sums up the subtlety of this book for me. I mean, not that lack of subtlety is a prerequisite for enjoyment, but I just didn't get out of this book what I might have done had it been a formative experience for me. I read this book this year, at the age of 23, instead of at school, where pretty much everyone else read it. Sometimes you can get over it, sometimes you can't. Sometimes you're better off just watching The Simpsons episode that covers the same ground. This is one of those times.

Everyone knows the plot, so I don't think there's any point in regurgitating it. I think my first problem with it is that I fundamentally disagree with Golding about the moral message that he's sending with this book, though I can see why it might have been useful tool at the time – I just think there are caveats to the idea that anyone has brutality inside of them, especially when a certain group mentality sets in. But I think the other failing of the story is that, for me, this central idea is all there is to the book. I didn't particularly enjoy the prose – I found it stilted and sterile. I didn't particularly enjoy the story, perhaps because I knew where it was going, or perhaps because I felt that I saw so little inside the heads of the people involved, except by way of the few incidents that make up the book. I just didn't particularly like anything about the story or feel anything when I read it. Big things, disgusting and terrifying things happened in this story, and I just sort of shrugged and still felt like all it was was a story, a tale of morality (or lack thereof) and not something that swept me away.

Again, this is all strictly personal and I can see why it is so widely read and why people encourage its reading. I can't decide whether its distinct lack of any sort of female presence had something to do with my inability to relate to the story. I think maybe not, but it's probably something to consider. I didn't dislike the book, and I wouldn't say it isn't worth a read – in fact, my relatively high rating despite my personal dislike mainly reflects the place this book holds in my understanding and that of others of relatively recent literature – but it's not something I would ever be convinced to reread, I don't think.

I give Lord of the Flies seven out of ten.
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
One of the best books I've ever read. It's changed my perspective on so much. The depth and layers of the writing is amazing. ( )
  imaginationzombie | Sep 28, 2014 |
I had a very hard time getting immersed in the story, possibly because I knew what was going to happen. It had moments of deep immersion, where I was totally lost in the book, and times where I had to force myself to focus on the reading. The very end was a surprise to me, and I was drawn in to it for that reason.

The story itself is a twist on an age old tale of castaways, however this twist is far more sinister. The transition from innocent to savage is somewhat gradual, and yet so predictable.

Human nature depicted in this dark light is always fascinating to me, and I found the story to be completely believable. It did not seem like something made up; rather, it was a story that could have truly happened to the author.

All in all, I was impressed with the concept, but found it very hard to really get into the story. ( )
  Krbrand | Sep 27, 2014 |

I discovered this book right after finishing my English literature class, which was a shame, as it would have fit perfectly in with the other books (it was the period of my growing interest in Dystopian literature, and I felt it would have been in its place with 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451).

However, even being too late to add it to my reading list (of course) didn't stop my from reading it! And I'm very glad I did, because I really enjoyed it (a lot more than I had expected).

These kids on this island (we never get to know them very well, but everything about them screams upper class - While reading I kept thinking they were from some private school somewhere). You'd thought that they would try to remain civilized, and at the beginning they really try to. But the shocking part of this book was (in my humble opinion) the fact that they loose civilization so fast after the structure of society broke down and they are feared. It left me feeling uncomfortable. The ending was a bit weird though, I'm not sure what to think of it... ( )
  Floratina | Sep 25, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 415 (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.)
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 26 descriptions

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Average: (3.74)
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1 270
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