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The Inheritors

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  1,860 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Eight Neanderthals encounter another race of beings like themselves, yet strangely different. This new race, Homo sapiens, fascinating in their skills and sophistication, terrifying in their cruelty, sense of guilt, and incipient corruption, spell doom for the more gentle folk whose world they will inherit.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 25th 1963 by Mariner Books (first published 1955)
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Best Pre-History Fiction
31st out of 145 books — 222 voters
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Best Novels Set in Prehistory
2nd out of 18 books — 11 voters

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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
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

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.
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
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
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
Stephen Bird
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
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
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
John Herceg
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
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
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
Dec 25, 2007 Kim rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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.

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.

Unfortunately I think Golding's execution of his admittedly brilliant
[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
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 ...
Gavin Mcphillips
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
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
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 Alicea
Podría sintetizar esta novela como El Señor De Las Moscas del mismo autor, pero ambientado en la prehistoria; por supuesto, 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 ante lo desconocido y la tara universal del homo sapiens, que consiste en destruir todo aquello que ignora y que pueda atentar contra su supremacía. Es la historia de el clan de Lok, un grupo de ocho neandertales que ...more
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
"Наследниците" е още една приказка на Уилям Голдинг за пораснали деца, в която последните неандерталци изживяват първата си и фатална среща с група кроманьонци. Четенето й е предизвикателство. Стремежът за оцеляване с цената на всичко и борбата между разума (макар и примитивен), силата и първичните инстинкти са допирните й точки с "Повелителят на мухите", която си остава по-добрата му книга.
Макар и излишно подробен на места и заиграващ се с търпението на читателя, Уилям Голдинг е успял да пресъз
John Lucy
I don't like the description of this book: "Eight Neanderthals blah blah blah." Even though the book itself begins with a scientific analysis of the Neanderthal, part of the thrill of the story is gradually learning that we are indeed reading about Neanderthals (oops, I just helped ruin it!) rather than homo sapiens. But anyway, it shouldn't matter. Golding masterfully seduces you into feeling compassion for our evolutionary ancestors, pulling you into a gripping tale of familial love and terror ...more
Once I got by the first 30-40 pages and adjusted to Golding's spare and primitive language, I was totally enthralled by this book. There are few books these days that I can't put down. This was one of them. That being said, the book's anthropological depiction of Neanderthals is quite dated. Knuckle walking, really? Most current research indicates Homo sapiens neanderthalensis was quite close to us genetically and culturally, and probably had linguistic abilities comparable to our own species. I ...more
Al Sirois
Jun 15, 2014 Al Sirois rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all
This, Golding's second novel, following LORD OF THE FLIES, is something of an eye-opener. It's very carefully written, quite vivid at times. It takes the reader to the distant past, into the life of Lok, a Neanderthal man who is a member of a small tribe of "people" who encounter a group of Cro-Magnons that has encroached on their territory. The meeting of the two types of humans does not go so well. All but the last two chapters of this book are written in third-person limited, centering on Lok ...more
Judith Johnson
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
Charles Dee Mitchell
A slice-of-life novel peopled by Neanderthals. The tribe lives in extreme fear of unknown forces, is never far from starvation, and have language skills that often break down into gibbering. Then along come the homo sapiens, with their fancy canoes and complete sentences. They are smart, technologically advanced, have no compunction about killing this grubby, inferior species, or keeping their young as pets.
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book - I suppose the only thing I can compare it to is the 'Earth Children' books by Jean Auel. It starts off as a very gentle story, with a Neanderthal family making their way to their summer home, a cave near the edge of a forest and a river. But a strange 'other people' are encamped nearby and the Neanderthals are mildly curious, unable to really understand who they are.

It takes a while to get into as the world and events are portrayed in an odd
It is difficulté for me to consider a SF book as literature . There are some keen observations on early man and the novel asks: Are we more advanced than our ancient counterparts and has the human condition changed. The debat reste ouvert!
Ian Russell
I cannot fathom how I haven't read a lot more of William Golding. In school, there was a compulsory study of The Lord Of The Flies, which I reread as a young adult in order to enjoy it better. And I did. But then many years passed before I picked out The Spire in the local library; and a brilliant read that was but it was years ago now. Why has it taking me so long to get into this great author?

The Inheritors is his second novel, after The Lord Of The Flies. There are overlapping themes between
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The Inheritors...PLEASE HELP 5 81 Oct 20, 2012 03:59PM  
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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
More about William Golding...
Lord of the Flies Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1) Pincher Martin: The Two Deaths of Christopher Martin Darkness Visible The Spire

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“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.” 3 likes
“Who would sharpen a point aginst the darkness of the world?” 2 likes
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