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The Inheritors

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,409 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews
The Inheritors is the second novel by the British author William Golding, best known for Lord of the Flies.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 25th 1963 by Mariner Books (first published 1955)
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I read this twice in close succession. I read it, then I read it again. The two readings were necessary, and not because William Golding failed in any way, but because his novel, The Inheritors welcomes so much failure from his readers -- I don't say this lightly.

I taught this for the first time this year, and it was beyond my first year university students. The Inheritors challenges. It challenges readers to work hard. It challenges readers to pay attention. It challenges readers to empathize.
Reading this I have a sense of journeying into the author's interior life, in a steamboat, chugging upstream. The jungle closes in around us and fog descends on the water. Cut the engine. This is the Heart of Darkness. The author's cry is short: the horror, the horror.

Golding was working as a teacher when he wrote Lord of the Flies and this his second novel, which deals with a group of Neanderthals encountering a group of the more sophisticated Cro-Magnons. Working as teacher and dealing with sc
Nandakishore Varma
May 31, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it
William Golding has a very low opinion of the homo sapiens. He has made it clear in Lord of the Flies, where a group of boys stranded on an island after a plane crash very soon revert to savagery. In this book, Golding makes another damning accusation: we are the dominant and successful species because of our savagery.

The book is written from the POV of the Neanderthals, a species of hominids who disappeared from prehistory as humanity advanced triumphantly. Even though we still do not know the
Aug 18, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
The story of the gentle, mostly vegetarian Neanderthal tribe that is all but obliterated in a meeting with wandering Homo sapiens. Told almost entirely from the viewpoint of Lok, a slightly dim Neanderthal "with many words and no pictures," it’s an interesting story and a sad one.

But the power of the tale is softened considerably by Golding’s laborious, descriptive prose. At times I found it very hard to understand what was going on, as the Homo sapiens’ activities – drinking wine, portaging boa
The Inheritors is a rare attempt to portray the human race from the outside looking in: told from the point of view of a group of Neanderthals having their first, fatal, encounter with this new and dangerously clever species.

As a palaeontological study this book may not be strictly accurate or even fully convincing, but as a prose experiment it's frankly astonishing and exactly the sort of thing top-level novelists should be trying to do. The efforts to give us a sense of how life was lived for
Frogy (Ivana)

Novogodišnja odluka da ne ostavljam započete knjige je bila jača od mučenja dok sam čitala knjigu....Tako da sam bila uporna, ali da me neko pita o čemu je nisam sigurna da bih mogla da prepričam. Premišljala sam se izmedju jedne i dve zvezdice, ali ipak dve.
Verovali ili ne bilo je momenata kada sam uspevala da pronadjem sličnosti u ponašanju tih ljudi i savremenog čoveka.
Nisam sigurna da sam je u potpunosti razumela, možda bi bilo potrebno ponovno iščitavanje, ali od mene ne u skorije vreme.
Dec 16, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-2012
A last tribe of Neanderthals (the People) arrive in their Summer home – a rocky outcrop near the top of a large waterfall. Peaceful hunter gatherers with an earth-mother religion, they do not understand tools, nor can they formulate complex thoughts, they speak simply and also they communicate telepathically through pictures. One day they smell strangers nearby and gradually the become aware of a tribe of Homo Sapiens (the new people) who have come up the river in dug out canoes and are camping ...more
Dec 20, 2007 Matthew rated it liked it
This might sound silly, but this small book of simple language confounded me. The story is told, not just by a Neanderthal, but by the dumbest Neanderthal in the book. His struggle to comprehend the changing world around him and to pin down the advanced technology of modern humans with concepts he could understand made parts of this story completely baffling. He sees boats as logs and paddles as leaves and representations of things as the real things they represent. It's a testament to Golding's ...more
Stephen Bird
Jun 26, 2011 Stephen Bird rated it it was amazing
I am in awe of this book, Golding's craft, and his work in general (I have also read "Lord of the Flies" and "Darkness Visible"). The writing itself, whatever one thinks of the plot, is transcendent. I am impressed by what must have been prodigious research on Golding’s part to gain insight in the world of the Neanderthals, about whose specific reality modern man can only speculate. Whatever the Neanderthals lacked in intellectual capability, they more than made up for in their ability to use th ...more
M.J. Johnson
Aug 07, 2015 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing
Golding is a wonderful writer and this is a tremendously thought-provoking work. It has something to tell us about 'the fall of man' and the loss of innocence. Golding imagines the great forests at the crossover point for Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens. It is deeply tragic and quite shockingly violent. We see the world from the Neanderthals' point of view; they are in many ways like us but lack our imagination, clarity of thought, adaptability and (most sadly) our greed and brutality. This is not ...more
Jun 27, 2008 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been one of my favourites since the first time I read it, at school, many years ago.

It is set in the distant past at a time when Neanderthal man is disappearing and a new stronger, more intelligent type of man - our ancestor - is spreading his grip across the land.

We follow a small family group of Neanderthal man as they live out their peaceful lives. They are upset by the change in climate, the new arrivals and the bad omens from their God. Their environment is changing and they a
Oct 28, 2015 Feliks rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
The kind of novel from a kind of intellect which developed from a kind of education enjoyed by a kind of man who no longer figures in our society. Worthy to be read on that merit alone.

A fine companion-piece to "Lord of the Flies" in which Golding is able to display his special forte: that is, describing the 'wildness' in man's nature.

This particular book is cleverly conceived and it is nimbly, ably, deftly executed. What you observe is a very confident set of skills wielded by a writer practici
Aug 12, 2010 Myles rated it liked it
Shelves: historish, literary
I don't know what made me think a novel by the guy who wrote Lord of the Flies wouldn't be depressing.

The inheritors is about a small tribe of neanderthals and their devastating encounter with a group of homo sapiens. It was hard to get into at first, because of the story being told from the point of view of a rather dim member of the tribe.

Golding is a gifted writer, however, and the characters and the story become clear. I found it hard to concentrate on it and events took place so suddenly, s
Jul 02, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
Did Neanderthals interact with our ancient ancestors? What would contact be like? What would be the results? How would that have been like from the Neanderthals point of view? The impossibility of ever having actual verifiable answers to these questions does not deter William Golding from tackling them all.

The most interesting aspect of this book is that it is mostly and almost entirely told from the perspective of a Neanderthal. Golding's Neanderthals have a different culture, different speech
Jul 05, 2009 Frankie rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
Okay, the first couple of chapters are rough, but I'd encourage you to stick it out. Imagine how difficult it must have been to write in a balance of modern English and presumed Neanderthal utterances. The dialogue is appropriate but even some of the narration must include "utterances." For instance, "picture" here has several meanings – memory, thought, idea, plan, etc. – but whether a character says "I have many pictures" or the text "Mal had many pictures," it's this subtlety of Golding's def ...more
A book that has been on my reading list for several years now and that took on renewed urgency ever since I read Jared Diamond's Third Chimpanzee last year. Finally, a few weeks ago, when we were driving through northwest Germany, the appearance of a sign pointing towards the Neander valley reminded me that Golding's book was still sitting on the shelf.

So, a showdown between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens, set in the remotest reaches of human history and told from the point of view of t
Joel Ayala Alicea
Aug 05, 2015 Joel Ayala Alicea rated it liked it
Se podría resumir esta novela como El señor de las moscas, del mismo autor, pero ambientado en la prehistoria; claro, sin la bandada de chiquillos haciendo salvajadas, pero en contenido tiene en mayor o menor medida la misma esencia: la reacción de una especie en decadencia a lo desconocido y de la tara elemental de la humanidad, que consiste en destruir todo aquello que desconoce y que pueda atentar contra su supremacía. Es la historia de el clan de Lok, un grupo de ocho neandertales que han e ...more
John Herceg
Nov 13, 2011 John Herceg rated it it was amazing
William Golding imagines the world of the Neanderthal, during the moment in time when it is introduced to Homo Sapiens, and the consequences that ensue. Golding will capture the reader's interest and heart with this gripping tale of a clan of Neanderthals and their daily struggle to survive. Complicated by the urgent need to keep their fire lit (because they do not know how to make fire), their lack of an evolved language, and the ever-present dangers of the wild environment surrounding them, th ...more
Jul 20, 2009 Peter rated it really liked it
This book was a challenge. I must admit it took me a good forty pages or so to adjust to the unique way in which Golding so skilfully uses the prose here. Its not easy at times but it proves to be well worth the effort. There is a real sense of authenticity in how Golding portrays the last of the Neantherthals and their desperate struggle to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly uncompromising and alien to them. Golding manages to present these mysterious people with such a beautiful ...more
Jul 25, 2016 Yarb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: your-library
Golding's Neanderthals are insufferably innocent noble savage types who live in harmony with nature, refuse to kill animals for food and spend their time mooning around their Eden and generally being all touchy-feely and pathetic.[return][return]Homo Erectus is much more accurately drawn as a depraved and bloodthirsty carouser with a brainbox too big for his own good. The story really picks up when the humans come on the scene. Alas, too late.[return][return]Unfortunately I think Golding's execu ...more
Dec 25, 2007 Kim rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those who have no hope for the human race
Do you hate people and think they're all innately terrible? Yeah, so does Golding. The parallels to "The Lord of the Flies" were uncanny. The main difference being that THAT book was at least readable. Golding takes a creative plunge and shows us the world through the eyes of the last living Neanderthals (another branch of the hominid line - not our pre-human ancestors). He gets points for originality, but looses them when he proceeds to write a book without a comprehendable language. Yep, not k ...more
Aug 09, 2016 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
[from my book lover's journal at the time of reading:]
About 20 minutes after confused reading of about the first 20pp, i felt their personalities finally. It took time away from the words, away from the un-commaed sentences, away from the alien quote attributions, away from "I have a picture...." Still, i seem to lose them while reading. I'll carry on though, it's intriguing, compelling, well-written.

After reading it all, it felt complete but still befuddling in its alienness: Homo sapiens is fo
Ken Doggett
When he wrote this story William Golding took on a bigger task than perhaps he could accomplish successfully. Most of it is told through the eyes of Lok, a Neanderthal man, who starts out as part of a small family and eventually begins to lose them one by one to new people he doesn't understand. The new ones are Homo Sapiens.

In telling the story through a character with limited intelligence Golding had to describe what the character saw using images interpreted by the character himself, who usua
Jan 06, 2016 Kenny rated it it was amazing
This was a real experience.

This is a story of a small tribe of pre-humans (neanderthals?) encountering a band of humans (home-sapiens?).

The basic events are simple - pre-humans coming home to "summer camp-site", get attacked by humans, panic, see humans leaving - but the way it is presented is just spectacular. Nearly the entire book is told from the point of view of the pre-humans, and they do not think at all like we do. They experience the world mainly through their senses, and do not really
Aug 19, 2007 Ryan rated it liked it
Three stars seems to imply that the book is of mediocre quality. That is not the case. It's a very impressive book, deeply imagined, structured and revealed with a great deal of nuance. I just didn't really enjoy reading it. That said, I can't wait to read more Golding, such as Pincher Martin. Like the scab you continually pick at, I suppose ...
Sep 03, 2015 Kenneth rated it did not like it
Awful. Just because a novel is about Neanderthals does not mean it needs to be written in a narrative style reflecting their low intelligence. I couldn't understand anything that was happening until the last chapter, which was written much more normally. Why, you may ask? Because the last chapter only featured Homo sapiens. As big a fan as I am of "Lord of the Flies," I consider this book a joke. The fact that it is still in print with various positive blurbs on the cover may well be the best pr ...more
Judith Johnson
Aug 31, 2014 Judith Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found William Golding's The Inheritors a most marvellous read. Golding, enters, and leads us into, a prehistoric world, a place and time where a small group of Neanderthals encounter a larger party of 'the new people', Homo Sapiens. The vivid, masterly writing, issuing from Golding's creative imagination, is told from the point of view, for most of the book, of the Neanderthals, and we see how they struggle to make sense of what they are experiencing for the first time. The reader is included ...more
Gavin Mcphillips
Oct 17, 2011 Gavin Mcphillips rated it it was ok
The Inheritors by William Golding follows two species on their mission to survive. One species is more peaceful and inferior (neanderthals), and one more evolved and organized (homo-sapiens). There is an instant conflict as soon as the neanderthals and homo-sapiens come into contact. As the famished homo-sapiens attempt to hunt the neanderthals simply to survive. This creates serious problems for the neanderthals as they are slowly outsmarted and hunted down despite their best abilities to survi ...more
Nov 01, 2009 Deepa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many critics have suggested that Golding's obvious intention is to show the differences between the Neanderthal men and the Homo Sapiens and thereby satirising the latter. This may be in tune with the overall structure of the novel and the fact that a lot of research has gone into Golding's depiction of the Neanderthal men. But I feel there is much more to the novel than merely satirising the early human beings. It is a sharp criticism on man himself. Things certainly become more complex as we l ...more
Jul 07, 2013 John rated it really liked it
It is hard to know what to make of this very odd book. It is such a "concept" book...Golding is doing something very specific here and he does not deviate from it- the whole thing is told from the point of view of a Neanderthal man, who has a more limited brain capacity than a human being and so fails to understand things that humans would grasp pretty easily. The Neanderthal main characters also have particular ways of making sense of the world, like conceptualizing memories or ideas as "pictur ...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 in 1988.

In 2008, The Times ranked Golding third on their list of
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“Who would sharpen a point aginst the darkness of the world?” 6 likes
“Out of the firelight everything was black and silver, black island, rocks and trees carved cleanly out of the sky and silver river with a flashing light rippling back and forth along the lip of the fall.” 4 likes
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