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MonkeyNotes-Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Booknotes Summary
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

WILLIAM GOLDING - BIOGRAPHY

William Golding was born on September 19, 1911, in Cornwall, England. His mother worked with the suffragettes, and his father was a schoolteacher. Golding was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and Brasemore College, Oxford. During college, Golding gave up his studies in science to pursue English Literature. After completing school, he dabbled in poetry and theater and was a grammar school teacher at Bishop Wordsworth School, Salisbury, when World War II broke out. Lord of the Flies, his first novel published in 1954 (and later filmed in 1963), met with popular and critical success. In the book it was apparent that the evil perpetrated during the war years influenced the author. He was a prolific writer, and his books include:

The Inheritors, 1955
Pincher Martin, 1956
Free Fall, 1959
The Spire, 1964
The Pyramid, 1967
Darkness Visible, 1979
Rites of Passage, 1980 (Booker Prize)
The Paper Men, 1984
Close Quarters, 1987
Fire Down Below, 1989

His essays include:
The Hot Gates, 1965
A Moving Target, 1987

He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1983 and was knighted in 1988.


Out of all his books, Golding's first novel, Lord of the Flies, is probably the best known and most often read. E.M. Forster recognized the book's significance and called it the outstanding novel of the year. In 1962, eight years after its original publication, Lord of the Flies reached its zenith of popularity and became a best seller during the year.

Golding is an important writer for several reasons. For him, the novel as a literary form matters because of what it can mean and what it can do. His novels are short and densely structured. His works reveal that he is an unusually disciplined and schematic writer. In fact, he thinks his novels out in careful detail before he begins the writing process. As a result, his characters convincingly become three-dimensional human beings. They also function as examples of different facets of man's nature, including common sense, greed, hunger for power, and savagery.

Although Golding is a moralist, his novels are not mere fables or allegories. They are loaded with sophistication, symbolism, irony, and contrasts; they also hold a mirror to the condition of man in the twentieth century and thereafter.

LITERARY/HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Lord of the Flies was published in 1954, shortly after the end of World War II. As a British citizen during the war, Golding knew about the cruelties of combat. England was hard hit during the fighting, and its citizens worried about total destruction. By the time the novel was written, the first atomic bomb had been dropped, and the world lay in fear of a total nuclear war, especially as a result of Russian aggression.

Golding begins his novel with children being rescued from the scene of a nuclear war in England set sometime in the future. The innocents needed to escape the horrors inflicted during wartime; they needed to flee from man's cruelty to his fellow man. Ironically, on their island paradise, the children slip to a base level of humanity, adorn themselves with war-paint, and inflict death on some of the boys. At the end of the novel, the boys are rescued by a naval officer from a warship, indicating that the fighting and man's cruelty to others continues. Golding has obviously been very touched by the memories of war and its brutality.

 

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