Apparently I am one of the dozen people in the world who didn't have to read Lord of the Flies in high school. It's one of those books that everybody...moreApparently I am one of the dozen people in the world who didn't have to read Lord of the Flies in high school. It's one of those books that everybody has read, and everybody has an opinion about, so I don't really have anything to add in terms of a substantive review. I liked the book, but wasn't blown away. The ending felt like a bit of a cop out. However, there were a couple points I thought was interesting to think about.
In particular, I think the novel is hurt by several things that were frankly out of Golding's control. Even before I read Lord of the Flies I was familiar with the broad outlines of the plot. Kids crash on an island, form a primitive government, pass the conch, hunt pigs, then things their rudimentary society begins to fall apart. Something bad happens to the fat kid. I don't ever recall someone telling me the plot outline of the book, the story has just seeped into my awareness through different pop culture references. Therefore, there was no way for the story to have the affect on me that it did on readers when it was first published.
As an example, as I was reading I kept thinking, "wow, this really reminds me of the first season Lost. There's more than just the people stranded on a tropical island setting. Survivors begin to organize, gravitate to an obvious leader, hunt pigs, fear a mysterious monster, and begin to gravitate to an alternative leader who's good at hunting boars. Other than Lost, there have been other works that deal with the breakdown of social order in difficult conditions. These have all been influenced by Lord of the Flies. While they aren't always necessarily better, they've added a lot to the genre. I'm not a big fan of considering a work's influence in assessing my reaction to it. I realize The African Queen was a forerunner of many adventure movies, and its got Bogart in it, and Bogart always kicks ass. However, Raiders of the Lost Ark is unequivocally in my mind the better film. Battleship Potemkin was interesting to watch on a historical level but I'm not going to be rushing out to buy the DVD any time soon. While I was reading Lord of the Flies I kept feeling Golding could have done more with certain situations.
Now, this is hardly Golding's fault, but it raises kind of a weird conundrum: a novel has such a profound impact on pop culture that, a generation or two later, the actual experience of reading the novel is significantly weakened. Success can be a double edged sword.
This can be seen as a weakness of the "modern day fable" genre of literature. Once you learn the moral of the fable and the broad outline of the plot the actual reading experience is in danger of turning, well boring. The one exception I can think of is Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, whose philosophical musings in the final passages were so beautifully thought out and written that it awarded the slow pace of the plot. (I'm not saying other exceptions don't exist, I just can't think of them off the top of my head.)
Lord of the Flies, is a quick read, and it's probably worth reading, even for the sole purpose of avoiding having to admit you never read it. If you've been able to remain ignorant of the plot points I've picked up over the years you may be enthralled. If not, there is enough to keep you interested. (less)
I was sitting in class pretending to learn how to litigate international claims in domestic courts (practice, practice, practice) while in actuality f...moreI was sitting in class pretending to learn how to litigate international claims in domestic courts (practice, practice, practice) while in actuality fiddling around on goodreads. I saw that I rated Pride and Prejudice two stars, which, according to our handy-dandy ratings guide, signifies that I felt "it was ok." This is a remarkably insincere reflection of my opinion. I don't know what I was thinking when I made that decision, but it comes nowhere close to reflecting my feelings about this book when I actually rated it.
I fucking hated this book. I hated, hated, hated it. I didn't give two shits about any of the characters, I was underwhelmed by the writing, and I was vocal in my opinion. I was quite adamant in my opinion that this was the worst book I ever read.
Granted, I was read it when I was 17. Granted, my reaction may have been enhanced by my soulless ice queen of an AP English teacher who loved it. Granted, I was not the most sophisticated reader when I was that age and may have, and most likely did miss something.
But that doesn't change the fact that this is the only novel that I disdained from start to finish. I'd like to say I'll give it another shot soon, but I really can't get myself geared up for another run at the 18th Century Gossip Girl. I'll read another Austin book someday, and maybe that'll give me motivation. Until then, my opinion has to reflect my actual feelings, not how I should have felt.
Digression: Right after we read this in 12th grade we read Jane Eyre. I got 30 pages in, concluded I was in for Pride and Prejudice 2, and bought the Cliff Notes. This was the only time I didn't read all of a assigned book. I thought that it was asking a lot of a group of 17 year old southern-American males to read these back to back. I was probably wrong, but it raises another point. In 4 years of high school, I think these were the only novels assigned in a Literature class which were written by a female author. Off the top of my head, I read Shakespeare, Dumas, Hugo, Hawthorne, John Krakauer, Steinbeck, Miller, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Penn Warren, Conrad, Pat Barker, and Swift. I'm not saying that there should have been a 50/50 split, but more than 2 seems reasonable. And the 2 that we read were contemporaries of each other writing about similar themes.Looking through the books I've read recently, this habit seems to have remained with me. I don't know what I would suggest. Woolf? Hurston? Atwood? Morrison? O'Connor? Was this something that was widespread or just a product of the teachers I had. Anyways, this was just something that all of a sudden bothered me.(less)
My quick reaction to the inevitable comparison with 1984 is that, while Brave New World is the more interesting, challenging (in a good way), and perh...moreMy quick reaction to the inevitable comparison with 1984 is that, while Brave New World is the more interesting, challenging (in a good way), and perhaps relevant book, Orwell's is the much better novel. (less)