To my mind, William Golding is an unexplored world, a hidden treasure, a brilliant gemstone reflecting the rays of sunlight. Hyperbole? And how is that so? Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and almost everyone has read The Lord of the Flies?
I think that’s the problem: in High School we are forced to read The Lord of the Flies and many people rebel at anything they are forced to read (how many George Eliot novels have you read since being forced to read Silas Marner?). So let’s make a list: there are those that consciously or subconsciously refuse to read William Golding; then there are those that don’t even realize that Golding has written more novels (mostly because The Lord of the Flies receives all the attention and Golding’s other novels are seldom showcased); and add to that all those people who will never read another book after college. With a handicap like that, no wonder Golding is overlooked.
I noticed that many of the less prominent titles by Golding (which inevitably means not-the-lord-of-the-flies) actually are available at some public libraries, so a good regional system might allow a person to read most of the author’s published work. But I also noticed that the books coming from the library are generally first editions or preliminary paperback editions. Given the dates Golding was publishing, it’s not surprising that the old editions are still around; what is surprising is that there are no newer editions, except of TLOTF, of course. I’m waiting for a publisher to reissue all the novels with attractive covers that will blend well on the bookshelf. I’m not going to buy them but I hope it triggers a new appreciation of the author.
I am going to list the novels by William Golding and you might consider how many of the titles you have read (links are for Wikipedia).
- Lord of the Flies (1954)
- The Inheritors (1955)
- Pincher Martin (1956)
- Free Fall (1959)
- The Spire (1964)
- The Pyramid (1967)
- The Scorpion God (1971)
- The Scorpion God
- Clonk Clonk
- Envoy Extraordinary
- Darkness Visible (1979)
- The Paper Men (1984)
- To the Ends of the Earth (trilogy)
- The Double Tongue (posthumous) (1995)
I always suggest The Spire as being Golding’s best novel, but I’m not sure if I am ignoring The Lord of the Flies because of its celebrity status. I haven’t read the trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth, but I have it on the shelf ready to go. Having read all the other novels I can conclude two things: first, although some themes are reoccurring in Golding, his fiction is remarkable varied; and second, the more you read Golding, the more you realize his greatness.
A visit to the official William Golding website is a good introduction to the author and hopefully will result in more of his novels being read (but even here there is a decided emphasis on The Lord of the Flies). Did you know you can even get a William Golding app?