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William Golding

William Golding: Some Critical Considerations

Jack I. Biles
Robert O. Evans
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j3cq
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  • Book Info
    William Golding
    Book Description:

    InWilliam Golding: Some Critical Considerations, fourteen scholars assess various aspects of the Nobel Prize-winning author's writings. Their essays include criticism of individual works, discussion of major themes and technical considerations, and bibliographical studies. Separately, the essays help us understand the intricacies and impact of Golding's art; together they show the breadth of his purpose.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6212-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-xii)

    Literary history teaches us that judgment of a contemporary writer must of necessity be tentative. Shakespeare was ranked by his contemporaries beneath Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher. Ann Radcliffe, considered a genius in her day, has passed from serious consideration, while George Eliot, who faded into eclipse after her death, has been revived by F. R. Leavis and Joan Bennett. Notwithstanding, the editors and essayists here, willing like Don Juan in Tirso de Molina’s playBurlador de Sevillato accept any challenge, will assert, if pressed, that Golding’s reputation will outlive that of most of his contemporaries (excepting perhaps...

  5. IS GOLDING’S THEOLOGY CHRISTIAN?
    (pp. 1-20)
    David Anderson

    The question posed in this essay is more complex than it may look. Golding’s books are novels, with all the density, ambiguity, and concreteness of an art-form—far removed, it would seem, from the systematized abstractions suggested bytheology. Nevertheless, one critic has said the novels do not make sense unless one remembers that Golding is a Christian writer.¹ He was thinking in particular of the failure of reviewers to recognize the shift from a naturalistic to a theological perspective implied in the last line ofPincher Martin. Reviewers thought the novel was about “the classic predicament of man pitched...

  6. GOLDING’S EXISTENTIAL VISION
    (pp. 21-38)
    Ted E. Boyle

    Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn, fascinated by the brute in man and nature, acquiesce to our historic barbarism. Sylvia Plath sublimated her psychosis but also acquiesced to the “boot in the face, the brute / Brute heart of a brute like you.” Kingsley Amis makes jokes, but always the same jokes; John Fowles tells us literature is a parlor game because it makes no difference whetherThe French Lieutenant’s Womanends with a reconciliation or whether the lovers part forever. John Arden and David Storey give us untidy parables about how awful things are, and Harold Pinter insists on his...

  7. GOLDING AND THE LANGUAGE OF CALIBAN
    (pp. 39-55)
    Philippa Tristram

    In the first act ofThe TempestProspero rebukes brutish Caliban for ingratitude:

    I pitied thee,

    Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour

    One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage,

    Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like

    A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes

    With words that made them known.¹

    In the perspective in which speech is the distinction between man and beast, Caliban is rightly rebuked. He has been granted, and has misused, a gift that could have raised him a rung in the ladder of evolution. His response confirms the accusation...

  8. THE BRASS BUTTERFLY: FORMULA FOR SLOW CHANGE
    (pp. 56-71)
    Peter Wolfe

    With Alastair Sim in mind, Golding adapted for the stage his 1956 novella,Envoy Extraordinary, changing the title toThe Brass Butterfly.¹ The adaptation is no mere recasting in dialogue form. Golding understands the difference between narrative and dramatic technique; differences between story and play reveal a keen theatrical instinct and a sure grasp of dramatic conventions.

    Both typical and, as his only published play, atypical of Golding,The Brass Butterflyhas a dubious standing with readers and playgoers. Dick calls it “an anthologist’s heirloom, like Joyce’sExiles,” and Golding himself terms it “a very imperfect play.”² This disclaimer has...

  9. RHYTHM AND EXPANSION IN LORD OF THE FLIES
    (pp. 72-86)
    Jeanne Delbaere-Garant

    Water and rocks, ebb and flow, angles and circles, microcosm and macrocosm, reason and intuition, good and evil, flies and butterflies: rhythm beats inLord of the Flies, sometimes loud, sometimes with “an undertone less perceptible than the susurration of the blood,” but always with the regularity of waves against the reef.¹ This continual back-and-forth motion, the rhythm of life, is complemented by a rhythmic use of gradation suggesting the constant progress of evil. The killing of pigs and the throwing of rocks, two important activities of the boys on the island, provide a metaphorical structure for the illustration of...

  10. THE INHERITORS: SOME INVERSIONS
    (pp. 87-102)
    Robert O. Evans

    Golding often turns ordinary matters inside out and observes them from a startling point of view. This technique dominates the style of the first three novels and is especially prominent in the second. Golding hints at the basis of the technique in an interview with Frank Kermode: “I have a view which you haven’t got and I would like you to see this from my point of view.” Some critics seem to notice it (for example, Baker speaking of H. G. Wells says, “In Golding’s story the formula is reversed”).¹

    At its simplestLord of the Fliesis an inversion...

  11. THE MISCASTING OF PINCHER MARTIN
    (pp. 103-116)
    Arnold Johnston

    WithPincher Martin(1956), Golding attempted to clarify his philosophical position, which critics of his first two novels had found either patently obvious or willfully obscure. Critics also had suggested that Golding’s approach was eccentric and looked askance at what seemed to them elements of science-fiction.¹ Hoping thatPincher Martinwould answer such charges, Golding saw the book as “a blow on behalf of the ordinary universe,” written “so vividly and so accurately and with such an exact programme that nobody can possibly mistake what I mean.”²

    Pincher Martinredefines several aspects of Golding’s philosophy and makes concessions to critics...

  12. FREE FALL: GOLDING’S MODERN NOVEL
    (pp. 117-135)
    Jay L. Halio

    Free Fallis a departure from the earlier Golding novels. The others are versions offable, butFree Fallis a fiction, despite specific aspects of fable of which it partakes.¹ Owing something to Dante’sVita Nuova, theKünstlerroman(with comparisons to Joyce’sPortraitand Lawrence’sSons and Lovers), the Gospel story of Christ’s temptations, and Camus’sThe Fall, Golding’s novel is yet very much its own thing.² It is Golding’s first attempt to write a “modern” novel. It is a novel of discovery as well as communication, an effort to trace crucial events of Sammy Mountjoy’s life to that...

  13. THE SPIRE: THE IMAGE OF THE BOOK
    (pp. 136-150)
    E. C. Bufkin

    The Spireis a subtle, paradoxical exploration of the theme of pride. In essence a variant of the myth of Babel, the novel may be viewed as a structure combining two traditional narrative patterns: the Gothic tragedy of pyramidal rise-and-fall and its reverse, the Christian comedy of sin and redemption. Both are moralistic, and both move toward suffering and death. While events inThe Spireprogress chronologically, its real structure—that image of the book itself which Lubbock would have us seek—is thematically controlled by rising and falling lines.¹

    The novel belongs to Jocelin, dean of the Cathedral Church...

  14. THE SPIRE: A SYMBOLIC ANALYSIS
    (pp. 151-175)
    Richard S. Cammarota

    InThe SpireGolding traces Dean Jocelin’s attempt to fill in with a stone spire the diagram of prayer he saw in a vision. Jocelin is obsessed with the task, but when the spire is completed, the lives of those around it lie destroyed. The moral thesis is, however, more complex. Jocelin is not only unaware of another side of man’s nature, but also convinced that the spire compensates for anything harmful which might occur: “Let it be so. Cost what you like.”¹ His slow recognition of his dual nature and the destruction his undertaking has caused culminates in a...

  15. THE PYRAMID AND COMIC SOCIAL FICTION
    (pp. 176-187)
    David Skilton

    In being a funny book with serious things to say,The Pyramidbelongs to an important tradition of comic social fiction, as the evocation of the spirit of Anthony Trollope is intended to make clear. But far from sharing in the sentiment and nostalgia which the twentieth century has read into Trollope, Golding’s comic masterpiece is filled with laughter caused by discomforting awareness of the limitations and absurdities of life. The writing is witty, as the tradition demands, but the author risks destroying the delicate web of English social comedy by a number of astonishingly heavy jokes, which turn out...

  16. THE SCORPION GOD: CLARITY, TECHNIQUE, AND COMMUNICATION
    (pp. 188-202)
    Leighton Hodson

    If there is a short formula to define the art of Golding it must surely be “Nothing twice.” Herein lies the explanation for the range of content he has encompassed sinceLord of the Fliesand especially the unique form he has found for each work. The complexity of each book often demands the greatest concentration from the reader and pushes him out of the role of passive consumer into that of active interpreter. This is reflected in a statement Golding made in 1959:

    It seems to me that there’s really very little point in writing a novel unless you...

  17. LORD OF THE FLIES: THE CRITICAL QUEST
    (pp. 203-236)
    Maurice L. McCullen

    “Many people … profess to be admirers of William Golding,” cautioned Anthony Burgess during the peak of Golding’s popularity, “but they read onlyLord of the Flies.”¹ It was true. Golding’s international reputation was based on his first novel, his subsequent work having been met, on the whole, by incomprehension verging on hostility.

    But it is true no longer; the “Golding vogue” is over. James Baker wrote its obituary in 1970. Although Golding finely dramatized anxieties common to a postwar world, said Baker, the popularity of his most “relevant fable” is declining, and his later books “have not caught on.”²...

  18. WILLIAM GOLDING: BIBLIOGRAPHY OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES
    (pp. 237-280)
    Jack I. Biles
  19. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 281-283)