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Darkness Visible

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  844 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
A dazzlingly dark novel by the Nobel Laureate.

At the height of the London blitz, a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire. Miraculously saved yet hideously scarred, tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him: twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political vi
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 15th 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1979)
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Feb 16, 2013 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Golding's prose herein is of elemental force. Apropos to the title, this is pure darkness, but infused with energy, fleet and engulfing and laced with a humour utterly attuned to this spelunking of the visceral, primordial reservoirs we all possess and bear the potential to tap into. As always in books of this subject when handled by a master, it awoke and evoked thought, emotion, and reflection in parallel and at a tangent to that sprung open within the primary characters—proved a fictive Rorsc ...more
Hugo Emanuel
Oct 23, 2012 Hugo Emanuel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
"Darkness Visible" foi o primeiro romance publicado por William Golding depois de um longo hiato de doze anos. Golding, escritor galardoado com um prémio Nobel e autor dos excelentes romances "O Deus das Moscas" (Lord of the Flies) e "A Catedral" (The Spire), oferece-nos em "Darkness Visible" uma meditação extremamente simbólica sobre a dualidade inerente á experiência humana. A perda da espiritualidade e o crescente cepticismo que caracteriza a sociedade moderna, a natureza do bem e mal, a proc ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Matt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won-t-read-again

...except out of morbid fascination. I remember this book, I just stumbled over it when I was reading someone else's review. I'd forgotten this book, it's literally been over ten years since I read it.

I read it because the library had it and I'd of course read LOTF, and I wondered what another book by this guy might be like.

Ugh. Portentious, bleak, kind of absurd and random and overly allegorical, boomfog at its finest.

I do remember one thing, though, which stuck with me then and now for it
Dec 18, 2007 Derrick rated it it was amazing
I love Golding's view of the world. This continues where "Lord of the Flies" left off; that human nature is inherently savage. That is, the world isn't needed to corrupt a child, we all accomplish that just fine on our own. Bleak, but intriguing. This book was also clever and suspenseful, more so than LotF, excellent read.
Feb 02, 2009 Trunatrschild rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, library-book
Weird book, course William Golding doesn't write bland literature! I am 10 pages from the end and can't figure the point of the book other than weird things happen, child molesters exist, and people can be monstrous. It's not an offensive book, and the only thing that would make it a difficult read is that I can't figure out the 'point'. It's a couple of biopics of people who's lives cross this poor strange man who was blown up or burnt in the London Blitz. The cover says it's a mystery, but wel ...more
Stephen Bird
May 30, 2011 Stephen Bird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read "Lord of the Flies" and then happened upon this lesser-known book by William Golding. I am a slow reader, but I read this novel surprisingly quickly, and was drawn in and eventually absorbed by the characters, their inner dialogues and their private universes. Matty, the "Anti-Hero/Martyr", represents many things for me--a prophet in the wilderness, a shaman, a clown, whom I would not consider to be evil; he is not vengeful, violent, nor is he vindictive. And yet in his silence, ...more
Stephen Durrant
Jul 02, 2011 Stephen Durrant rated it liked it
This novel begins with a child emerging from a fire caused by German bombs in World War II London. Anonymous and badly disfigured, the child will be named Matty and will become one of the central characters in Nobel laureate William Golding's disturbing 1979 novel. Matty asks the questions "Who am I," "What am I," and finally "What am I to do." His lonely journey through life, with only a Bible for a companion, brings him into contact with a number of other characters who, though not scarred phy ...more
arthur noble
Nov 05, 2012 arthur noble rated it really liked it
Golding is a master story-teller. His characters are vivid and intriguing - which he manages to achieve with the minimum of detail; more sketches or even caricatures. His plot is fabulous.

Some parts of interior dialogue are too ethereal for my taste, and could have been shortened. Also the first half is too interior and therefore a bit hard going. However the second half more than compensates - you just turn page after page.

I will read more of him.
Oct 15, 2008 Jennifer rated it did not like it
They gave Golding the Nobel Prize in 83? Must have been a dearth of contenders. This 60s novel of ideas is actually tedious, with a narrative so laden with "meaning" that the story is lost. Ugh. Penance. Darkness visible indeed.
Apr 24, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
I picked up this book for three reason: 1) like most people I’d read Lord of the Flies as a kid but nothing else since; 2) he won the Nobel Prize so he must be able to write, and 3) in summaries one of the characters is referred to as schizoid and as I have a character in one of my novels who has Schizoid Personality Disorder I was curious to see how Golding dealt with the condition.

The only thing I remember about Lord of the Flies is the death of Piggy. It’s far from being a graphic descriptio
Andreea Ursu-Listeveanu
Oh, this was quite an unpleasant read. I was stubborn to read it til the end just to see what that end could be, hoping somehow I will find something, anything to like at this book. Nothing whatsoever. Too dark for my taste, too many issues to deal with: pedophilia, terrorism, spirituality, crime, desire to kill, good girls gone bad. I could say Golding's writing was good, but not even this made it bearable. The worst book of 2016.
Andy Todd
A dark mystery told with skill. Golding knows how to bring characters to life.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Wonderful and strange, a book of dark prophecy
Jan 21, 2017 Heidi rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. A shocking exploration of good and evil.
Marius Gabriel
Jan 29, 2015 Marius Gabriel rated it really liked it
It seems blasphemous to give this book anything less than five stars. It's a very important novel by a very important author, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is, incidentally, one of the writers I love best. But Time has a way of changing one's opinions.

I've read this book four times over the 36 years since it was published, and on this last re-reading it struck me more forcefully than ever that while that part of the novel dealing with Matty Windrove is among the best fiction ever wr
Mar 19, 2014 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hellfire is a potent symbol and William Golding makes liberal use of it in his brooding and pessimistic 1979 masterpiece Darkness Visible. As a child Matty Septimus Windgrove (or Windrove, or Windrake--the reader is never offered a solution to the mystery of his name) emerges disfigured from a burning building during the London Blitz and responds to the scars and markings he is left with by withdrawing from the society that rejects him for being physically unappealing. At school he unintentional ...more
Grady Ormsby
Oct 11, 2015 Grady Ormsby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nobel Laureate William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is perhaps the most featured novel in literature classes in high schools and universities around the English-speaking world. Otherwise, Golding seems to be overlooked and neglected. Yet he is no one-hit-wonder. I highly recommend Pincher Martin, The Spire and The Inheritors. The latest of his works that I’ve read is Darkness Visible (1979). The title refers to Milton’s evocation of hell in Paradise Lost: "No light, but rather darkness visible" a ...more
Victoria Roe
Oct 17, 2013 Victoria Roe rated it liked it
All the way through this book I wasn't sure what to make of it and I'm still not even now I've finished and have had some time to think about it.

I started the book with a vague sense of foreboding, due in no small part to suffering through a class reading of Lord of The Flies at 13 and really not enjoying the experience. I was surprised that this book felt so much more accessible all the way through, but I struggle to know if that's due to the fact I'm considerably older or that Darkness Visible
Jack Chapman
Jun 01, 2012 Jack Chapman rated it liked it
Golding's 1979 offering (8 years after his previous novel) is powerfully and poetically written. Scenes such as the opening in the London Blitz are compellingly described. The story has a strangeness that comes from a finely honed talent for manipulating words and images (I'd stop just short of calling him a genius though of course many think he is).

And yet - the insights he displays seem more literary than human. The characters, however elegantly drawn, simply don't come alive to me. They never
Jul 30, 2011 Lester rated it it was ok
I bought this book as it was one of the works of Golding which I had neer come across, and I do love his writing - it brings so much alive. But I do not know if I made a mistake here. The imagery and writing is powerful, but I was rather confused as to the untimate goal of the book. It tells the story of a number of intertwining lives, but because of the confused nature of the 'coincidental' intertwinings, as well as the disproportionate length of time given to two of the major characters, I was ...more
David B
Nov 16, 2013 David B rated it liked it
A man disfigured as a boy in the fires of WWII London and a beautiful young woman represent polar opposites of the spiritual spectrum, the first a literal-minded social outcast who believes himself to be in communion with holy spirits and undergoes great sacrifice in order to do their bidding and the second a believer in chaotic chance who exploits herself and others in order to satisfy her need for autonomy.

William Golding is on a serious mission here. He is concerned with questions of judgment
David Bonesteel
May 23, 2013 David Bonesteel rated it liked it
A man disfigured as a boy in the fires of WWII London and a beautiful young woman represent polar opposites of the spiritual spectrum, the first a literal-minded social outcast who believes himself to be in communion with holy spirits and undergoes great sacrifice in order to do their bidding and the second a believer in chaotic chance who exploits herself and others in order to satisfy her need for autonomy.

William Golding is on a serious mission here. He is concerned with questions of judgment
May 30, 2016 Jennie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
A dense read from the very first page, "Darkness Visible" is overburdened with biblical themes, dark plots, despicable characters, and disturbing ideas. The opening scene of the London bombings during WWII once again revisits the concept of 'Hell on Earth' as seen in many of William Golding's earlier works.

In many ways Matty is to be seen as an angel of the Lord and a demon from Hell as the intricacies of plot show moments of omnipotent clarity and a mind-numbing madness. The story is so thoroug
Nov 06, 2010 Joemmama rated it really liked it
This is a tiny book, but it is one of the most powerful descriptions of depression I have ever read. "A Memoir of Madness" is the perfect subtitle for this book.

In October of 1985, Styron is in Paris to accept an award, when he realizes he is plunging into a deep, dark depression. He ends up hospitalized, and with the help of many professionals, he regains his sanity.

With the use of actual suicides, from Randall Jarrett, the poet, to Abbie Hoffman, he examines the causes and the effect it has on
Katie Lynn
Feb 27, 2011 Katie Lynn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was an accidental read of sorts; thought I was purchasing a book of a similar title. I didn't find the book as dark and evil as some reviewers, but maybe that says more about me than the book. :(

I found myself lost a lot in the story, not IN the story, but FROM the story... "what is going on?!" But not intrigued enough to really explore it and figure it out. I suppose it can be said that it examines the inner (self) and outer darkness (society, family, environment), but it seemed a bit one-
Aug 05, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this is the last of the whole inherent-blackness-of-the-human-soul reading list I've inadvertently embarked upon lately. I don't know what I was expecting, picking up a book that takes its title from Milton's famously oxymoronic description of hellfire.

Maybe I need to read, you know, The Devil Wears Prada, or something. I'm giving myself the heebie jeebies over here. Or maybe I'll just re-read Jimmy Corrigan again while I listen to Xiu Xiu on repeat and induce some sort of angsty catatonia.
May 08, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, london, uk, psychology
I came to this after seeing Lars Iyer describe it as one of a handful of 'half-mad' modern English novels. Well, he's not wrong - though I'd question his use of 'half'. It's a damaged book, full of intensities, characterised by a kind of warped, flailing, questing - a search for answers, answers to questions that are, at best, incoherent, at worst, non-existent.

"We’re all mad, the whole damned race. We’re wrapped in illusions, delusions, confusions about the penetrability of partitions, we’re a
Aug 25, 2016 Neale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This book came out after a longish period of creative block for Golding, and it feels like burst of water from a clogged pipe.

It is a very strange and dark book, and sometimes a heavy-handed one, written in an intense, knotty, poetic, visceral language. It is always compelling, even when it is being oddly unpleasant – one feels that there are issues squirming just under the surface that Golding doesn’t want to address directly, but is glad to get out of the way.

The Australian section reads like
Dec 31, 2007 Jillian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
It was dark, intriguing, and vivid, certainly; Golding has that mastered. I suppose I didn't like it quite as much as The Paper Men because (1) I'm naturally going to be more drawn to books about writers, (2) the humor wasn't as present, or at least was different (3) reading Matty's sections and especially his journal felt like revisiting the work of Medieval female mystics - interesting, but not my cup of tea (4) it had the same abrupt, cut-off ending, but it worked MUCH more effectively in Pap ...more
Jason Freeze
Jan 07, 2015 Jason Freeze rated it it was ok
Conceptually and philosophically this was a good book; however, the text frequently got in the way of itself. This was a book I had to force myself to finish and that was disappointing from such a powerful author. Seeing how multiple people deal with disenfranchisement and rejection from the world is interesting though and if you don't mind having passages that are nearly indecipherable this book may be worth your time.
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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
More about William Golding...

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“We're all mad, the whole damned race. We're wrapped in illusions, delusions, confusions about the penetrability of partitions, we're all mad and in solitary confinement.” 24 likes
“The way towards simplicity is through outrage.” 7 likes
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