Riku Sayuj's Reviews > Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
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May 04, 14

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Read in November, 2006, read count: 3


This tends to me among the top five books I recommend to anyone who cares to ask.

Questioning and undermining Rousseau's 'noble savage' was one of its essential goals (as Alan mentions below), hence the positioning of a classic dystopia in an idyllic setting and the choice of 'boy-scout' perfect protagonists. It is as good a dystopic novel as they come. And essential because most dystopic novels were set in urban settings, giving the illusion that extreme control leads to dystopia. Golding shows that extreme freedom can too.

It is a great work because it speaks so truly of the human tendency away from organized civilization. To me, the one fault is the ending -- the time scale given to the thought experiment was too narrow, allowing only one swing of the societal pendulum.
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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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Zaki what are the other four?


Riku Sayuj Zaki wrote: "what are the other four?"

the list is usually in flux...


midnightfaerie why this one?


Riku Sayuj midnightfaerie wrote: "why this one?"

Why not? I have always felt it is an essential read...


message 5: by dely (new) - added it

dely It's one of my favorite books. I love it so much that I gave it as a gift to my son when he was ten years old and he too loved it (it was his first "serious" reading).


Alan Agreed that it is an essential book, first among anti-Romantic novels, one that questions and undermines Rousseau--and you could argue, the idea of the New World. Yet I don't know that it's part of any usual curriculum. Riku, did you encounter it in school? I recall that it was often taught in HS decades ago, though I missed it there.
I suppose one could make a neat course, Island-hopping. Maybe Naipaul's Miguel Street on Trinidad. Joshua Slocum would be in it: my favorite scene from his account of Sailing Alone on his Spray (which he reconstructed 15 miles from where I type, over in Fairhaven, Massachusetts)...my favorite scene is his cooking doughnuts in the South Pacific islands using the barrels of fat he picked up in the Straits of Magellan. He sold the doughnuts--the Dunkin' Slocum--to help pay for his trip. When I told this to some of his descendents, they denied it. I suppose they thought it demeaning, their glorious ancestor reduced to frying in flotsam fat. But I had read the book, taught it four times.


message 7: by Riku (last edited Dec 24, 2012 09:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Alan wrote: "Agreed that it is an essential book, first among anti-Romantic novels, one that questions and undermines Rousseau--and you could argue, the idea of the New World. Yet I don't know that it's part o..."

I am honored that you put up a review based on a reply to me.

As I said there, it is unfortunate that we don't have a true educational canon anymore... I can imagine the adventure that would be if only we could. We could design such courses... every student could have a customized chart to follow through literary waters - emerging educated and more himself/herself at the end of it. Instead of emerging as a product of a mass culture as we do at the end of the current educational system.

Your comment has given me goosebumps Alan. Let me dream of utopia this christmas day. thanks!


Riku Sayuj dely wrote: "It's one of my favorite books. I love it so much that I gave it as a gift to my son when he was ten years old and he too loved it (it was his first "serious" reading)."

Is he on goodreads? :)


message 9: by Riku (last edited Dec 24, 2012 09:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Alan wrote: "Riku, did you encounter it in school?"

I did. But more thanks to an over-enthusiastic english teacher than to any curriculum.

These few teachers who love reading are the last bulwark of civilization. And we are doing nothing to fortify it...

[Yes, I love being dramatic. Epic.]


message 10: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Riku wrote: "Alan wrote: "Riku, did you encounter it in school?"

I did. But more thanks to an over-enthusiastic english teacher than to any curriculum.

These few teachers who love reading are the last bulwark..."


Hear hear! The last bulwark indeed. And over here we're systematically eliminating 'em for some overarching protocols invented by a B-ball player-buddy of our supposed intellectual Prez. Our US Sect'y of Ed, Arne Duncan taught for 2 years--Gym, Physical Ed. He's a coach, who was promoted, as so often in US public ed, to school head, then Superintendent of Chicago schools. Now he has 80 Billion dollars to abrade education on the MBA model. Locally in RI, he fired all the teachers at a High school in a poor city, Pawtucket. Why? Becasue the immigrant kids there weren't doing as well as the fancy suburban Barrington kids. Yes, he hired a few teacher back, but the mere idea of corporate methods in education disgusts me.
What's worse, our NYT writer Tom Friedman proposed to make Duncan our next Sect'y of Ed. At least Duncan had the realism to demur from that. (By the way, I wrote for the NYT--may have told you--and am ready to deny it because of stuff like this.)


message 11: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Alan wrote: "Riku wrote: "Alan wrote: "Riku, did you encounter it in school?"

I did. But more thanks to an over-enthusiastic english teacher than to any curriculum.

These few teachers who love reading are the..."


Gnashing my teeth in tune with your invective...

Sadly, it is the same in India without all the political merry-go-round, or maybe I am just unaware of those aspects.


message 12: by dely (new) - added it

dely Riku wrote: "dely wrote: "It's one of my favorite books. I love it so much that I gave it as a gift to my son when he was ten years old and he too loved it (it was his first "serious" reading)."

Is he on goodr..."


Yes, but he isn't active, he never updates his shelves and he was too lazy to add all the books he has read.


Jacob Schmidt-svejstrup I agree, I like this book a lot and would really recommend it.


message 14: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat With regard to It is a great work because it speaks so truly of the human tendency away from organized civilization. Scribble Orca's review is worth a read:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I think I'd be leery of reading Lord of the Flies as a reflection of a general human tendency, more this is Golding's view (a school teacher at the time). Perhaps it is more an indictment of the effects British (and the systems of other countries which produce similar outcomes of tribalism and bullying) schooling of the time than a universal representation of human nature!


message 15: by Riku (last edited May 04, 2014 03:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Jan-Maat wrote: "With regard to It is a great work because it speaks so truly of the human tendency away from organized civilization. Scribble Orca's review is worth a read:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/12..."


I will read the review and get back.

To clarify, when I said tendency, I also meant that civilizations tend to oscillate. So if the noel was to work as a good parable, the other swing back to civilization had to be shown.

This is based on two readings:

1. Wilson's ideas of how human nature interacts with human construction of civilization and how we always tend to push too hard and collapse. - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

2. Taintor's take on how the current 'stability' of human societies is essentially a subsidized one and we will go back to a swinging pendulum once the free dole stops (energy being the currency of civilization). - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


The comment on the teaching system is funny, but if that was all it was, would it have had such a lasting impact? I will take that you are just joking (though cruelly). Though observations of child behavior in schools should count as valuable anthropology/sociology too...


message 16: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Riku wrote: "Jan-Maat wrote: "Though observations of child behavior in schools should count as valuable anthropology/sociology too"

OH MY! I just read Orca's review and I am aghast at having said that.


message 17: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat No I wasn't joking about schooling, though if I may be light-hearted we could channel a little more Rousseau and question what is involved in the process of education, if the socialisation makes the students more savage, or savage in different ways than they might have otherwise been. I mean a school environment is structured to produce, consciously or unconsciously, a product.

Here the author isn't a scientist, but rather a person with peculiar spectacles who says 'here, put on my spectacles and experience the world as I see it!' . Dunno. It is a powerful book though.


Dolors You review comes as the perfect reminder that I need to re-read this one. Fantastic closing line, well argued and provider of good food for thought.


message 19: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Jan-Maat wrote: "No I wasn't joking about schooling, though if I may be light-hearted we could channel a little more Rousseau and question what is involved in the process of education, if the socialisation makes th..."

Ah, I completely agree, about the school environment's power to shape the future.

The author might not be a social scientist, but how many literary authors do we know of who are? But by the mere act of writing a fully realized world, they become social scientists. As for the peculiar spectacles, that is a subjective judgement, right? It is not as if Golding was saying something completely outlandish -- he was more or less Club of Rome in his presentation.


message 20: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Dolors wrote: "You review comes as the perfect reminder that I need to re-read this one. Fantastic closing line, well argued and provider of good food for thought."

Thanks, Dolors. I was having an argument with a friend about the book and sort of cobbled a review out of those thoughts. :) I need to read it again too.


Agnieszka Concise and right to the point ,Riku !Also reminds me I need to reread it.


message 22: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Riku wrote: "The author might not be a social scientist, but how many literary authors do we know of who are? But by the mere act of writing a fully realized world, they become social scientists. As for the peculiar spectacles, that is a subjective judgement, right? It is not as if Golding was saying something completely outlandish -- he was more or less Club of Rome in his presentation. "

OK, but then we are looking at something as though it was science fiction. It is the author's musings about people which may or may not be true - that is always the case I suppose, I'd be hesitant about viewing that as sociology or anthropology doubly so when Golding was experimenting by dividing boys into two gangs of boys who were set against each other - ie he was creating the conditions which would produce the behaviour that he would write about in Lord of Flies!


Cecily I'm particularly taken with the final line of your review. I'd wondered now different the story might have been had there been girls on the island, but hadn't considered the effect of a longer time frame. Food for thought.


Zanna Like Cecily I'm intrigued by your final comment. I don't like this book, but maybe I would do if it swung things differently...


Zanna Girls on the island... omg are you going to write or shall I? Or has someone already? *opens new document and feverishly starts typing*


Cecily Someone may have done it already (I floated the idea in my review five years ago, and I'm sure I wasn't the first to wonder), but I'm not aware of anything that's been successfully published.

But are you going to write a girls-only version, or a mixed-sex version?


Zanna girls only for me = )


message 28: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Zanna wrote: "girls only for me = )"

The problem may be: the boy gangs act almost exactly as the girl "gang" did forty years at an exclusive girls school. All the twelve-year- old girls in one class (to whom my wife taught science) thought they were allergic to one girl. They tried to convince the teacher, too, that they got sick from being near the girl--who wasn't as wealthy, somewhat skinny and pathetic. She could be your "piggy" or Simon.


message 29: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Alan wrote: "Zanna wrote: "girls only for me = )"

The problem may be: the boy gangs act almost exactly as the girl "gang" did forty years at an exclusive girls school. All the twelve-year- old girls in one c..."


Carrie!


Cecily Alan wrote: "Zanna wrote: "girls only for me = )"

The problem may be: the boy gangs act almost exactly as the girl "gang" did forty years at an exclusive girls school..."


Which might be why a mixed-sex group would work better (as long as it didn't get bogged down with actual sex).


message 31: by Anirudh (last edited Jun 18, 2014 12:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anirudh It is a matter of time before reality shows move down this path. I mean, logically that is the only way they can evolve.

Dr. pepper's presents 'Snuff em or be snuffed' - exclusive season preview out on KillTube now*.

*no conditions apply



message 32: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Anirudh wrote: "It is a matter of time before reality shows move down this path. I mean, logically that is the only way they can evolve.

Dr. pepper's presents 'Snuff em or be snuffed' - exclusive season preview ..."


National Geographic?


Anirudh More like 'pay per view' WWE. The movie Death Race comes to mind as a current pop culture example.


Cecily Anirudh wrote: "It is a matter of time before reality shows move down this path. I mean, logically that is the only way they can evolve.

Dr. pepper's presents 'Snuff em or be snuffed' - exclusive season preview ..."


The (dreadful) Hunger Games?


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