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The Pyramid by William Golding
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The Pyramid (1967)

by William Golding

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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I’m not sure what to make of Golding. Here’s a writer who’s chiefly known for his debut novel, but went on to write a further fourteen or so books, all of which are generally highly-regarded but nowhere near as popular or well-known as his first novel, Lord of the Flies. Which, to be honest, I read at school, as probably did many UK schoolchildren. But I stumbled across three of his books in a charity shop a couple of years ago and decided to give him a go. And I was extremely impressed by the first one I read, Rites of Passage. And the second (well, third) novel by him I read was The Inheritors, which was odd, and an odd choice of subject, but very good. So I asked my mother to keep an eye open for his books in charity shops, and she found me three more, of which The Pyramid was one. And… it’s not at all what I expected, based on what I’d previously read by him. It’s set in the 1920s in a small town near “Barchester”, although if there are any other references of links to Trollope’s series they’d be lost on me as I’ve never read Trollope. The protagonist of The Pyramid, Oliver, is a young man due shortly to study chemistry at Oxford. Before he leaves, he wants to make out with the nubile receptionist from the doctor’s surgery next-door, who, it is implied, has a “reputation” (it is later revealed she is fifteen). Oliver succeeds – and it’s quite clearly rape, and described as such later, although the narrative seems to brush it off. Oliver returns home a few years later during his time at Oxford, and ends up involved in a local play, where he plays a gypsy violinist (as he plays the piano and violin) and a spear-carrier. But it all goes comically wrong. The final section is set decades later, when Oliver returns home as an old man, and learns the truth about some of inhabitants of the town he knew as a child. I’m not entirely sure what Golding is trying to say with The Pyramid. The various sections are linked by Oliver and place, and some shared characters, but otherwise seem not at all connected. The protagonist is not at all likeable, and his treatment of the teenage girl – and the narrative’s – has not aged well at all. The preoccupation with social class – the title refers to “the crystal pyramid” of social class – reads oddly to a twenty-first century reader, even a British one. To be honest, Waugh writes about class much much better than Golding does here – perhaps because the only intelligent way to write about class is as satire. In all, The Pyramid feels like a minor work, but I’ve more of his books on the TBR and I plan to read them. ( )
  iansales | Apr 3, 2019 |
I got this book from the library, in a plain binding and thought "Well this is going to be additional short stories about Egypt",. Rather than more of the material which I found enjoyable in "the Scorpion God", but it was quite something else.
This is the most autobiographical of Mr. Golding's books, and I found it extremely interesting. Set in a small English town it is a coming of age story, and illustrates very carefully the kind of upbringing that could create the mind that gave us a series of insightful parables, such as "Lord of the Flies". I also think it was the hardest thing for Golding to write, and a great tribute to his artistic courage.
Writers of fiction generally improve their pasts to seem more interesting people than they perhaps really are. Here we are witnessing a very serious attempt to tell an unvarnished truth. I place this book in a very small but honoured category, with "A very Ordinary Seaman" another fiction that is as close to reality as the writer could bear to place it. More people should read this book, more searing and honest than "Lord of the Flies". ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Sep 9, 2016 |
If it weren't for his name on the cover I never would have known this was by Golding. Ropey dialogue and characterisation, especially in the first novella. It wouldn't have mattered so much, but this was fully half the book. The narration was beautifully written throughout with a clever and subtlesubtle use of rhythm. It's emotionally cold and distant in the first half. Admirably done, but in a book that depends on emotional engagement in matters of the heart I found it an astonishing artistic choice. He gets one star for the writing and an extra one because I did laugh very hard at one point. It's not put me off Golding. He has a beautiful voice but I think here he's in search of something to say, so I think I'll try The Spire or The Inheritors which might be more my kind of thing. ( )
  Lukerik | Jan 19, 2016 |
Well. This was such a disappointment. Was it me - or did I really read one of the worst books ever to be written? Such a slender premise and such non-events. After the unlikely call out the narrator gets to rescue a 'borrowed' car the whole thing slides downhill. I threw the book across the bedroom when I had finished it in memory of Mark Twain's comment!!! ( )
  Adrianburke1 | Oct 3, 2009 |
This is a rarity for me- a book that I actually would not recommend to anyone. The first half drags on for an eternity, and then the second half is vaguely interesting, but nowhere near interesting enough to make up for that torturous beginning. I would not read this unless you are an avid William Golding fan. I enjoyed Lord of the Flies, but was less than impressed with this book. ( )
  Magadri | Aug 24, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It is my impression that in The Pyramid Mr. Golding has tried again to write a novel. The result is an embarrassment, a disaster.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Denis Donoghue (pay site) (Dec 7, 1967)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571089887, Paperback)

Set in the superficially placid English village of Stillbourne, The Pyramid represents three episodes in the life of Oliver-as a schoolboy, an undergraduate, and a mature young man. A compelling tale about Oliver's increasing awareness of the deeper meanings of the relationships and events of his youth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:53 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

CLASSIC FICTION. Oliver is eighteen, and wants to enjoy himself before going to university. But this is the 1920s, and he lives in Stilbourne, a small English country town, where everyone knows what everyone else is getting up to, and where love, lust and rebellion are closely followed by revenge and embarrassment. Written with great perception and subtlety, "The Pyramid" is William Golding's funniest and most light-hearted novel, which probes the painful awkwardness of the late teens, the tragedy and farce of life in a small community and the consoling power of music.… (more)

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