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The Spire

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,202 Ratings  ·  124 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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The Stranger by Albert CamusOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayLord of the Flies by William GoldingSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Nobel Laureates
220th out of 429 books — 388 voters
Wolf Hall by Hilary MantelThe Man Without Qualities by Robert MusilOrlando by Virginia WoolfThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Literary Historical Fiction
285th out of 431 books — 565 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,382)
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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
Dhanaraj Rajan
Jul 30, 2015 Dhanaraj Rajan rated it liked it
May be three and half stars.

On the surface, the plot looks very simple. Nepotism plays a main role in placing a less qualified person as a Dean of a Cathedral. The Dean considers it as his Call. Later as a Dean he has a vision and wants to transform the vision into a reality by building a spire to the cathedral. This is an impossible undertaking for the Cathedral is on a marshy land and does not have the foundation necessary to hold a spire of 400 feet. Everyone is against. The Deans considers i
Jan 25, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have loved Lord of the Flies since we read it in English Literature class at school and have read it again a couple of times since. It occurred to me a few days ago that, despite my love of Lord of the Flies it has never even entered my head to try any other William Golding books. With this in mind, I bought Golding’s fifth novel The Spire.

Set in the twelfth century A.D. (or C.E. or whatever you want to call it), this fantastic novel tells the story of Dean Jocelin of a cathedral that I’m pret
M.J. Johnson
Dec 19, 2013 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2016 Feliks rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-brit
What you can notice immediately about a novel like this is that it has nothing to do with today's shabby 'historical fiction' trend. Such books merely transpose today's sensationalism to a remote timeperiod; but deliver nothing more than the same tawdry potboiler intrigues we're familiar with from TV.

'The Spire' is, in fact, literature; in that Golding exposes a forgotten way of life which heretofore has had little light shed upon it. He makes his scenario as authentic as possible, and (most imp
Hugo Emanuel
Nov 16, 2012 Hugo Emanuel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
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
Gary Lawrence
Apr 27, 2015 Gary Lawrence rated it really liked it
This is the only Golding book I have read since "The Lord off the Flies" as a teenager and I am glad I made the trip with the author back to medieval England and this story of a man and an unfinished Cathedral.
Jocelyn is the Dean of the Cathedral - a young political appointment of the old King with aristocratic connections, now out of favour with the new King. The Cathedral, possible based on Salisbury, since Golding lived close by, lacks a Spire, for good reason, being built on marshy ground w
Jul 08, 2009 Jule rated it did not like it  ·  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!
Mar 19, 2013 Peter rated it did not like it  ·  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
Ben Winch
Jul 01, 2012 Ben Winch rated it really liked it
Shelves: anglo, english
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
Özgür Daş
Aşırı sıkıcı bir konu sayfalarca ilgi çekiciliği olmayan kuru bir anlatım, yarım bırakma huyum olmadığı için ite kaka bitirdim.

Golding'in okuduğum ilk kitabıydı kendinden soğuttu diyebilirim, uzun bir süre Golding kitaplarının kapağını açmam sanıyorum.
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
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
Jun 14, 2015 Neslihan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sineklerin Tanrısı'nı okumuş ve çok sevmiş biri olarak kitaptan beklentim büyüktü. Konu da ilgimi çekmişti. Ama kitabı çok zor okudum. Sorun çeviriden mi kaynaklanıyor acaba diye düşündüm ve buradaki bazı yorumlara göz atınca aynı sıkıntıları orjinal dilden okuyanların da belirtmiş olduğunu gördüm.
Zemini çok da sağlam olmayan bir kiliseye transept kulesi inşa etmek isteyen bir rahip üzerinden insana dair birçok zaafın din ve inşaat ekseninde anlatılması çok güzel olabilecekken bir şeyler eksik y
Sep 06, 2015 Etna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sungmin Song
Apr 29, 2016 Sungmin Song rated it really liked it
‘The spire’ is a dark and powerful portrait of the man’s will with the contradiction between good vs. evil and faith vs. doubt. Readers can see the author wants to show the human nature has essentially barbaric and reckless desire if not downright evil. Joceline in ‘The spire’ also represents dark side of the human nature in the world of religion. He has a strong vision of his religion and it leads him to ignore the reality. The contradiction of religion and reality drives people to be destroyed ...more
Colin Powell
Mar 20, 2013 Colin Powell rated it it was amazing
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!
Apr 21, 2014 Glen rated it liked it
I found this a difficult read ... I enjoyed it ... I did think Pillars of the Earth was lent something by this ...
Laurel Hicks
Jun 09, 2015 Laurel Hicks rated it really liked it
An amazing tale !
Nov 15, 2014 Leena rated it really liked it
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
Oct 03, 2014 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 12, 2013 MN rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 06, 2014 Wendle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
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
Justin Evans
Feb 14, 2011 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 16, 2014 Rod rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Blake Charlton
Jan 01, 2016 Blake Charlton rated it really liked it
a fascinating examination of one man's folly that waxes and wains between brooding contemplation and manic exultation.
Apr 20, 2016 Peter rated it it was amazing
Nothing William Golding wrote about is what Golding wrote about—he was a master of metaphor, and his 1964 novel The Spire is a good example (as was his masterful Lord of the Flies, still on many reading lists).

This is not an easy book, and reviews are all over the place. It is stream-of-consciousness filtered through the mind of its main character, a style filled with ambiguation. And it is an allegory, speaking of things unspoken. On its surface, The Spire is about a medieval cathedral in an u
Apr 13, 2013 Lee rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 09, 2014 Utkarsh rated it it was amazing
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
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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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“I am here; and here is nowhere in particular.” 24 likes
“At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing.” 18 likes
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