13 August 2012

Re-Read : Lord of the Flies

First Edition 1954
Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Publisher: Faber and Faber (1954)
248 pages

A pig's head impaled on a stick delivers a sermon, flies tumbling from its mouth, to a young boy.

A pair of cracked glasses held to the light of the sun.

A bleached white conch shell trumpeting through the remote island forests.

The images in Golding's book are burned into my memory. The island, the insanity that follows. The sudden interruption of rescue at the end that tacitly implies that the world as a whole is just like those boys. Loose, falling apart, afraid.

Penguin cover 1980
What I forgot, or more accurately, what I didn't see the first time I read was the clear homo-eroticism of the boys. Simon clearly loves Ralph. There are numerous scenes of arm caressing and longing looks. Ralph and Jack clearly have a love/hate relationship. They even argue like an old married couple. Piggy looks to all of them for affection and only receives abuse. They are all nearly naked or actually naked at various points and each boy is described in longing, Whitman-esque terms.

Golding's writing holds up fairly well. It is a book set in the 40s and there are certainly a lot of references that date the story, but that only made the re-read more interesting for me. The thought that these were events in the past only made it harder to detach. I had to contend with these kids going home and shaping the world we now live in.

Which is scary, but explains EVERYTHING.

If you haven't seen it, take a moment to watch the great 1963 Peter Brook film. The whole thing is on YouTube. Below is the trailer.

Re-Read is a sometime article where I go back and read a book from my childhood over and examine the threads that I find in my current adult life.

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