Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Spire” as Want to Read:
The Spire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Spire

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  2,003 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published 1964)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Spire, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Spire

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default


Second readings are dangerous enterprises. Anything can happen. When I first read this novel, I thought the Spire, that gives the name to the title, stood defiantly by the end of the book. My attention was focused on the descriptions of how architects and builders managed to pull up the complex architectural structures that miraculously were built during the Middle Ages. I did not pay too much attention to the writing. At the time, my English did not have strong foundations, and
This might be the finest historical fiction that I have read to date - partly because it works through atmosphere rather than detail.

The book is short and the story simple. Set in medieval England during the reign of Henry II it concerns a new Dean who seeks to have a spire built on his cathedral against advice to the contrary and what results from this.

The transformation of a cathedral into a medieval building site may not sound terribly exciting but it works through atmosphere and the confusi
Ben Winch
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anglo, english
For some reason, four years ago when I originally wrote this review (or one like it), I chose to attach it to The Spire, not Darkness Visible or Pincher Martin or The Inheritors, all equally fine books whose influence on me was no less profound. The review, you see, was really of Golding, not of any single one of his books. It also included an ornery and unfair assessment of British writers in general, prefaced by a genteel insult of British writing by Raymond Chandler and a brief, confused argu ...more
Paul E. Morph
I have loved Lord of the Flies since we read it in English Literature class at school and have read it again a couple of times since. It occurred to me a few days ago that, despite my love of Lord of the Flies it has never even entered my head to try any other William Golding books. With this in mind, I bought Golding’s fifth novel The Spire.

Set in the twelfth century A.D. (or C.E. or whatever you want to call it), this fantastic novel tells the story of Dean Jocelin of a cathedral that I’m pret
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty good book. I would probably listen to it again just so I can hear Benedict Cumberbatch whisper in my ear. Yum!
This is the story of a clergyman who thinks he was given a divine message to build a spire on his church even though the builder warns against it. Soon the clergyman thinks he also hears the devil talking to him, too.
As he slips further into madness and the spire grows, we see how the actions of his congregation change without his guidance and how that effects him.
Dhanaraj Rajan
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it
May be three and half stars.

On the surface, the plot looks very simple. Nepotism plays a main role in placing a less qualified person as a Dean of a Cathedral. The Dean considers it as his Call. Later as a Dean he has a vision and wants to transform the vision into a reality by building a spire to the cathedral. This is an impossible undertaking for the Cathedral is on a marshy land and does not have the foundation necessary to hold a spire of 400 feet. Everyone is against. The Deans considers i
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Golding deyince insanın aklına hemen "Sineklerin Tanrısı" geliyor. Hadi en iyi ihtimalle "Piramit" gelsin. Ama "Kule" gelmez. Herkes Sineklerin Tanrısı 'na tapar. Amanda efenim ne de güzel kitaptır o değil mi? Şimdiden klasikleşmiştir. İşte ben Golding olsam Sineklerin Tanrısı'ndan nefret ederdim. Böyle bir şaheserle çıkmak piyasaya ve sonrasında da ömrün boyunca sadece bir kerecik tadabildiğin başarıyı yakalamaya çalışmak.... Dünyanın en zor işi. O kadar roman yaz, hepside birbirinden g ...more
M.J. Johnson
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think it's possible to measure (to some extent) a great piece of writing by how large it looms in your psyche. This book and the religious hubris of its main character seemed to take up residence in my dreams from the moment I started reading it. It is a book packed with metaphor, and although written in the third person, it is fully inhabited by the main character Jocelyn's mental landscape. He is a man obsessed by a vison and a charge, which he is convinced has been placed on him by God, to ...more
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1950-1970, reviewed
Golding’s The Spire is an extraordinary novel—though uneven, I felt, in the same way as his Rites of Passage. The first two thirds or three quarters, while the spire is thrusting its improbable way to the heavens, is startlingly good: a poem of a novel, almost Blake-like in its fierce, odd, visionary, lyric language. The ending, for me, came untuned rather, but in a way that helped illustrate what a remarkable balancing act Golding pulls off in that great, prolonged opening sequence.

Golding tau
Oct 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody

A priest builds a spire on a cathedral according to a spiritual vision, believing it to be the calling of God and dependant upon his will and faith to bring it to completion, destroying his congregation, vocation and sanity in the process.
The prose is dense and disorientated, flashing between coherent thought, delirium, reality, reverie and nightmare. Certain themes and motifs are repeated throughout some of which hints at an understated, repressed sexuality. There is often reference in the narr
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
After going to see Salisbury Cathedral and learning that Golding lived just down the street from it, near St. Anne's Gate, I was compelled to read this book in which Golding imagines the creation of the enormous spire atop the cathedral. In it, he has created is a brilliant, densely woven, intensely introspective study of obsession and faith, which pushes everyone around him to the very edge of endurance.

Golding did a brilliant job showing us as the readers how the gigantic phallic spire in the
May 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
The worst! I challenge everybody out there to read it and find something to like about it!
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Smaili" izvēlējos Grāmatu klubam, kas šomēnes lasa jebkā godalgotu literatūru. Nolēmu sākt ar pašu ievērojamāko un nopietnāko - Nobela prēmiju.
Jāatzīst, ka bez grāmatas beigu komentāriem būtu ļoti daudz palaidusi garām, jo visus tur minētos plānus nesaskatīju man tas bija gana interesants darbs par kādu viduslaiku abatu, kurš, izdomājis, ka augstam tornim pietiek ar vīziju un ticību, un tas, ko mūrnieku meistari stāsta par pamatiem ir pupu mizas.
Bet tā jau arī ir labas literatūras pazīme - ja
Hugo Emanuel
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Golding's "The Spire" concerns Dean Jocelin's attempt to crown his parish's cathedral with a vast spire, despite the cathedral not having the foundations to support its weight and length. He is opposed my many, learned man and layman alike, who claim that such attempt is a folly that will only end in disaster. Jocelyn’s will remains unshaken however, for he firmly believes that he is doing God's work, resorting to coercion and manipulation to force the unwilling collaboration of others in order ...more
Fatih Dönmez
Sonunda bitirebildim. Konunun içeriği de anlatış biçimi de gerçekten çok yorucu. Hristiyanlık kültürü ile doğrudan alakalı. Eser sembolik anlatımlar ve hristiyan mitleri ile dolu. Bu da kültüre yabancı birisi için ızdırap verici oluyor.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-brit
What you can notice immediately about a novel like this is that it has nothing to do with today's shabby 'historical fiction' trend. Such books merely transpose today's sensationalism to a remote timeperiod; but deliver nothing more than the same tawdry potboiler intrigues we're familiar with from TV.

'The Spire' is, in fact, literature; in that Golding exposes a forgotten way of life which heretofore has had little light shed upon it. He makes his scenario as authentic as possible, and (most imp
C. A. Powell
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
As I read this story I felt as though the author was reaching inside of me and tearing out something that is flawed or blinded by what I want to believe. William Golding unsettles me yet this is his most compelling story I have read so far. Splendid and very atmospheric!

Gary Lawrence
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the only Golding book I have read since "The Lord off the Flies" as a teenager and I am glad I made the trip with the author back to medieval England and this story of a man and an unfinished Cathedral.
Jocelyn is the Dean of the Cathedral - a young political appointment of the old King with aristocratic connections, now out of favour with the new King. The Cathedral, possible based on Salisbury, since Golding lived close by, lacks a Spire, for good reason, being built on marshy ground w
William Golding's The Spire is another of those 'improving' books that my father bought me years ago. This edition claims to have been published in 1983, but that feels a little to early – 1989 sounds more likely. That said taking 'only' 14 years to read a gift still feels woefully inadequate. Luckily he doesn't have a Goodreads account, so he'll never know.

The Spire is the story of Dean Jocelin and his spire. He is a man who has been touched by a vision; a man who God has charged with the tas
3.5 stars. Typically of a Golding novel, 'The Spire' is a real uphill struggle to get through, but equally typically there is great reward to be found in and at the end of your labours. At times it shares a mad, hallucinatory quality with 'Pincher Martin', which a mind can only take so much of in one sitting. My reading of 'The Spire' had ground to almost a halt when I went to see Roger Spottiswoode's adapted play at Salisbury Playhouse, having originally intended to finish the book beforehand. ...more
Description: Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and on Dean Jocelin in particular.

Opening: He was laughing, chin up, and shaking his head. God the Father was explo
Özgür Daş
Aşırı sıkıcı bir konu sayfalarca ilgi çekiciliği olmayan kuru bir anlatım, yarım bırakma huyum olmadığı için ite kaka bitirdim.

Golding'in okuduğum ilk kitabıydı kendinden soğuttu diyebilirim, uzun bir süre Golding kitaplarının kapağını açmam sanıyorum.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tüm sevgilerin iyi olduğu bir hayat tarzı olmalı, bir sevginin diğerini alt etmeye çalışmadığı, aksine diğerinin gücüne güç kattığı bir hayat tarzı..
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-literary
Nothing William Golding wrote about is what Golding wrote about—he was a master of metaphor, and his 1964 novel The Spire is a good example (as was his masterful Lord of the Flies, still on many reading lists).

This is not an easy book, and reviews are all over the place. It is stream-of-consciousness filtered through the mind of its main character, a style filled with ambiguation. And it is an allegory, speaking of things unspoken. On its surface, The Spire is about a medieval cathedral in an u
Tom Quinn
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Day and night, acts of worship went on in the stink and half dark, where the candles illuminated nothing but close haloes of vapour; and the voices rose, in fear of age and death, in fear of weight and dimension, in fear of darkness and a universe without hope. (50)

I first read The Spire in my sophomore year of college. The course was ENGL 200 - "The Literary Experience" - in which we were to read a sampling of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. The Spire was our example of a novel. The pro
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sineklerin Tanrısı'nı okumuş ve çok sevmiş biri olarak kitaptan beklentim büyüktü. Konu da ilgimi çekmişti. Ama kitabı çok zor okudum. Sorun çeviriden mi kaynaklanıyor acaba diye düşündüm ve buradaki bazı yorumlara göz atınca aynı sıkıntıları orjinal dilden okuyanların da belirtmiş olduğunu gördüm.
Zemini çok da sağlam olmayan bir kiliseye transept kulesi inşa etmek isteyen bir rahip üzerinden insana dair birçok zaafın din ve inşaat ekseninde anlatılması çok güzel olabilecekken bir şeyler eksik y
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
This book seems like it was written for someone a lot smarter than I am. As soon as I was finished I had to read a bunch of critical analyses just to understand what I had just finished. While beautifully written and engrossing at times, there was so many subtle, unexplained HUGE plot points that were only implied. I didn't even comprehend that the story took place in the 1300s for about the first third of the book! Books like this get forced onto young readers by crap teachers and turn them off ...more
Viji  (Bookish endeavors)
After seeing this book on my table and shelf for a really long time and unable to turn two or three pages without feeling irritated,I finally give up. I returned the book to the library yesterday and am not planning to try to re-read it until I find a really compelling reason to do so,or until I want a crash course in patience.
Laurel Hicks
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
An amazing tale !
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
I found this a difficult read ... I enjoyed it ... I did think Pillars of the Earth was lent something by this ...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Anti-Death League
  • Falstaff
  • The Old Men at the Zoo
  • The Late Bourgeois World
  • Sweet Dreams
  • Facial Justice
  • Dubin's Lives
  • The London Novels
  • The Coup
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • No Highway
  • The Unlimited Dream Company
  • Riders in the Chariot
  • The Disenchanted
  • The History Man
  • The Aerodrome
  • Cocksure
  • The Fox in the Attic (The Human Predicament, #1)
Sir William Gerald Golding was a British novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies.
Golding spent two years in Oxford focusing on sciences; however, he changed his educational emphasis to English literature, especially Anglo-Saxon.
During World War II, he was part of the Royal Navy which he left five years later. His bellic experience strongly influenced his fut
“At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing.” 30 likes
“I am here; and here is nowhere in particular.” 30 likes
More quotes…