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The Spire

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  829 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published 1964)
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1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerCatch-22 by Joseph HellerInvisible Man by Ralph EllisonThe Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
BURGESS' 99 BEST ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NOVELS
74th out of 99 books — 24 voters
The Stranger by Albert CamusOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayLord of the Flies by William Golding
Nobel Laureates
219th out of 397 books — 307 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,593)
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Jan-Maat
This might be the finest historical fiction that I have read to date - partly because it works through atmosphere rather than detail.

The book is short and the story simple. Set in medieval England during the reign of Henry II it concerns a new Dean who seeks to have a spire built on his cathedral against advice to the contrary and what results from this.

The transformation of a cathedral into a medieval building site may not sound terribly exciting but it works through atmosphere and the confusi
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Jeffrey
After going to see Salisbury Cathedral and learning that Golding lived just down the street from it, near St. Anne's Gate, I was compelled to read this book in which Golding imagines the creation of the enormous spire atop the cathedral. In it, he has created is a brilliant, densely woven, intensely introspective study of obsession and faith, which pushes everyone around him to the very edge of endurance.

Golding did a brilliant job showing us as the readers how the gigantic phallic spire in the
...more
Ben Winch
The English may not be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers.

(Raymond Chandler)

I have a confession to make: I don't like British writers. It's a prejudice, sure, but not against a disadvantaged minority, more against an epicentre of pomp. Maybe it's not that I don't like them but I don't have patience for them, same as I don't have patience for this whole 'Great American Novel' quest that generates all these erudite bricks of social observation masqueradi
...more
M.J. Johnson
I think it's possible to measure (to some extent) a great piece of writing by how large it looms in your psyche. This book and the religious hubris of its main character seemed to take up residence in my dreams from the moment I started reading it. It is a book packed with metaphor, and although written in the third person, it is fully inhabited by the main character Jocelyn's mental landscape. He is a man obsessed by a vison and a charge, which he is convinced has been placed on him by God, to ...more
Hugo Emanuel
Golding's "The Spire" concerns Dean Jocelin's attempt to crown his parish's cathedral with a vast spire, despite the cathedral not having the foundations to support its weight and length. He is opposed my many, learned man and layman alike, who claim that such attempt is a folly that will only end in disaster. Jocelyn’s will remains unshaken however, for he firmly believes that he is doing God's work, resorting to coercion and manipulation to force the unwilling collaboration of others in order ...more
Jule
Jul 08, 2009 Jule rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
The worst! I challenge everybody out there to read it and find something to like about it!
Peter
Mar 19, 2013 Peter rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody

A priest builds a spire on a cathedral according to a spiritual vision, believing it to be the calling of God and dependant upon his will and faith to bring it to completion, destroying his congregation, vocation and sanity in the process.
The prose is dense and disorientated, flashing between coherent thought, delirium, reality, reverie and nightmare. Certain themes and motifs are repeated throughout some of which hints at an understated, repressed sexuality. There is often reference in the narr
...more
Rachel Lindan
3.5 stars. Typically of a Golding novel, 'The Spire' is a real uphill struggle to get through, but equally typically there is great reward to be found in and at the end of your labours. At times it shares a mad, hallucinatory quality with 'Pincher Martin', which a mind can only take so much of in one sitting. My reading of 'The Spire' had ground to almost a halt when I went to see Roger Spottiswoode's adapted play at Salisbury Playhouse, having originally intended to finish the book beforehand. ...more
James
William Golding's The Spire is another of those 'improving' books that my father bought me years ago. This edition claims to have been published in 1983, but that feels a little to early – 1989 sounds more likely. That said taking 'only' 14 years to read a gift still feels woefully inadequate. Luckily he doesn't have a Goodreads account, so he'll never know.

The Spire is the story of Dean Jocelin and his spire. He is a man who has been touched by a vision; a man who God has charged with the tas
...more
Colin Powell
As I read this story I once again felt as though the author was reaching inside of me and tearing out something that is flawed or blinded by what I want to believe. William Golding unsettles me yet this, for me, is his most compelling story I have read so far. Brilliant!
Pam
I am not going to lie...THE ONLY REASON I read/listened to this book is because it was narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch...his voice is like velvet butter and I knew I would not be disappointed. I am giving this book 5 stars because of the amazing narration. HOLY BALLS is there anything this man can not do?!?!?

I was so enthralled by this book. It isn't something I would have picked up to read, but the way Benedict acted each character...there is one scene (not a spoiler) where Jocelin and Mason h
...more
MN
I first read Golding’s *The Spire when I was about 15. I was completely astonished by it, and read it twice without stopping. It was the first time I realised that (and perhaps something of how) a contemporary writer can represent a cultural worldview which is, of necessity, very different from my own in a way which enabled me to not merely appreciate the differences in conceptualisation but in some way to understand the differences. It brought about a paradigm shift in the way I thought about l ...more
Wendle
I almost gave up on this book within in the first two chapters, but i’m glad i didn’t. It was a bit too much like a soap opera for my liking, with nothing to string the chapters together except Jocelin’s very slow descent into madness, and the drama (bullying, rivalries, affairs and family) between the characters.

In his obsessive behaviour towards the spire, and his determination to ignore everything else (the lives of the people around him, his own feelings and even his own illness), made me vi
...more
Justin Evans
This takes a *long* time to get going. My wife started it and didn't finish it, she described it as 'inaccessible.' That's pretty much right. It's not difficult like Pynchon; it's not all that intellectually or aesthetically sophisticated like V. Woolf. It's just... well, it's about a Dean who wants to build a really tall spire for his church, the community that coalesces around its building and the destruction of that community. Only the first hundred pages are really, really slow. The second h ...more
Glen
I found this a difficult read ... I enjoyed it ... I did think Pillars of the Earth was lent something by this ...
Rod
I carried around an old paperback of this when I was a teenager, probably owing to having read The Lord of the Flies and wanting to read more by this guy. I remember reading the first few pages many times, but I never finished it. This is a stream-of-consciousness narration that is obsessive, symbolic, and unrelenting. Don't think I was up to it at the time.

After a trip to Salisbury a few years ago, I heard that Golding used to live near the cathedral and that this inspired this book. When I saw
...more
Lee
Really enjoyed this book - it's not quite like anything I've read before.
The Abbot of a medieval monastry has a vision which he believes is an instruction from God to add a massive Spire to the building.
He is determined to carry out Gods will, whatever the cost to the community and the bulding itself. The story is told almost entirely from his viewpoint and we see him gradually lose touch with reality as he becomes increasingly obsessed with the angels and demons that seem to haunt him.
Utkarsh
The spire is one of the best books I have read this year.

When I was 12, I wanted to be Shaktimaan (Indian superhero).Reality and wise society told me I will never be a superhero. I let it go.

Then, during my later teenage, I myself realized that I would never be the person in my wildest imagination. A yin-yan version of Nietzsche's superman. I accepted my limits, somewhere at that time. It was one of the most heartbreaking thing to accept.

Now, At the age of 22. The heart has dared to dream again
...more
Kevin Fanning
Read this in college and then a few times since, although I totally forgot about it until Steve added it to his shelf. I remember really liking it and being wowed by Golding's language, but it's very dense in places, to the point where I wasn't 100% sure what exactly was happening. But the central idea, about a man so consumed with the idea of doing something for the glory of god, that it maybe takes him all the way back around in the other direction, is great and 100% up my alley.
Victoria Turvey-Sauron
A claustrophobic and difficult experience listening to this. It's a stream of consciousness which whirls desperately towards its own doom.

The writing is extremely rich and dense which makes it difficult to experience as an audio book - I will probably want to have a flick through the paper version. I don't know enough about literature to recognise the genre but I feel that it has to be seen as part of a genre - perhaps modernist - to make sense of what it is doing.

It's a devastating experience,
...more
Leena
I read and listened to this book at the same time, so this review will cover both the work itself, and the narration done of it.

I read this book after reading some Proust, so it honestly seemed accessible to me, despite being a story told via stream-of-consciousness thoughts from an increasingly crazy man. It's a short book, so if the style is bothering you, I'd suggest trying to power through it. Do this because this is one of those books that have a bunch of different themes and viewpoints an
...more
Zachary Powell
Originally, I read about this in Anthony Burgess's _99 Books from 1939 to 1984_. I learned about _Pincher Martin_ and _The Inheritors_ from Burgess's book and had read all of these before approaching _The Spire_. From the outset, the plot description reeks of symbolism. A church dean forces a 400 foot spire to be built on a church that has no foundation. However, what the book is amazing at is slow mental degradation combined with an unreliable narrator. By the time the main character loses his ...more
Mark McKenny
Am I missing something here? The Dean in Salisbury wants to build a spire on top of the Cathedral, everyone says no, it's not safe, he does it anyway.

Whilst building he climbs to the top of the Spire a lot, has a weird moment with the model (not even sure what this was) and generally things get hectic. By the time you get to the end of this book you're just confused and disinterested. The writing doesn't help.

Maybe it's not for me. I just believe if you've got something to say, then say it, clea
...more
Janet Temby
Two words - Benedict Cumberbatch
Ruth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassie
a chilling book. golding deals in suggestions and euphemisms; nothing is spelled out but the message is clear. among my top five favorites.
Semnebune
Obsesia morții, ori poate a eternității, ne lovește pe toți la un moment dat. Nevoia de a (pro)crea este felul nostru de a ne asigura că nu am trăit în zadar, că un fragment din noi va dăinui. William Golding, laureat cu Premiul Nobel pentru Literatură în anul 1983, a scris tocmai despre această compulsie umană de a căuta nemurirea.

În Turnul este vorba despre încercarea oamenilor de a crea ceva, orice, un roman ori o piesă de teatru, o simfonie ori o statuie. (William Golding)


de la sursă: Nebun
...more
Greg Fanoe
Nobel Prize Project
Year: 1983
Winner: William Golding

Review: An interesting character study, really good stream of consciousness writing and great parallelism between internal character elements and external elements. Definitely a lot more nuanced, and with more advanced writing than Lord of the Flies. This one surprised me.

Verdict: In 1980, in probably the most famous Booker Prize battle in history, William Golding (for Rites of Passage) beat out Anthony Burgess (for Earthly Powers). Three years
...more
Ash
Interesting but not mind-blowing.

Significantly more interesting than Lord of the Flies, at least, which I read sometime last year and was not overly taken with. Despite some arresting scenes, I'm not convinced by the ideas at its core. But The Spire is a different beast entirely.

The greatest strength is that of character and perspective. Jocelin is so single-minded, and the novel told in such a close third-person style, that everything absent from his concerns is also absent from the novel. It's
...more
David
I never really got into Golding. I was forced to read Lord of the Flies at school which probably did him in for me, and he always looked old and shaggy on his photos which also put me off. But I picked this up yesterday from a shelf in the house expecting to while away a half hour or so but I couldn’t stop reading it. I read Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth a few years ago, a mega-volume like a Michener, and it was good and also about the building of a cathedral, but this although a slim book ...more
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Sir William Gerald Golding was a British novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. He was awarded the Booker Prize for literature in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book of the trilogy To the Ends of the Earth. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 and was knighted by the Queen of England in 1988.

In 2008, The Times ranked Golding
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More about William Golding...
Lord of the Flies Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1) The Inheritors Pincher Martin: The Two Deaths of Christopher Martin Darkness Visible

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“I am here; and here is nowhere in particular.” 18 likes
“At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing.” 11 likes
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