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On Nobel Laureate William Golding

William Golding was a British novelist, poet, and Nobel Prize laureate. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983.

With the appearance of Lord of the Flies (1954), Golding’s first published novel, the author began his career as both a campus cult favorite and one of the most distinctive and debated literary talents of his era.

While the story has been compared to such previous works as Robinson Crusoe and High Wind in Jamaica, Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies is actually the author’s ‘‘answer’’ to nineteenth-century writer R. M. Ballantyne’s children’s classic The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean.

These two books share the same basic plot line and even some of the same character names. Although some similarities exist, Lord of the Flies totally reverses Ballantyne’s concept of the purity and innocence of youth and humanity’s ability to remain civilized under the worst conditions.

In Lord of the Flies, Golding presented the central theme of his collective works: the conflict between the forces of light and dark within the human soul. Although the novel did not gain popularity in the United States until several years after its original publication, it has now become a modern classic, most often studied in high schools and colleges.

Lord of the Flies shows that when people are abandoned in a faraway place, far from traditional external authorities, their deepest nature is exposed. The novel has been interpreted by some as being Golding’s response to the popular artistic notion of the 1950s that youth was a basically innocent collective and that they are the victims of adult society (as seen in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye). In 1960, C. B. Cox deemed Lord of the Flies as ‘‘probably the most important novel to be published . . . in the 1950s.’
The story examines a group of schoolboys abandoned on a desert island during a global war and highlights the conflict between the forces of light and dark within the human soul.

The book explores the dark side of human nature and stresses the importance of reason and intelligence as tools for dealing with the chaos of existence. In the novel, children are evacuated from Britain because of a nuclear war. One airplane, with adults and prep-school boys as passengers, crashes on an uninhabited island, and all the adults are killed. As the boys fashion their own society, their attempts at establishing a social order gradually devolve into savagery. Finally abandoning all moral constraints, the boys commit murder before they are rescued and returned to civilization.

- Gale/Britannica/Routledge
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On Nobel Laureate William Golding


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