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

Pincher Martin

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,502 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
The sole survivor of a torpedoed destroyer is miraculously cast up on a huge, barren rock in mid-Atlantic. Pitted against him are the sea, the sun, the night cold, and the terror of his isolation.

At the core of this raging tale of physical and psychological violence lies Christopher Martin’s will to live as the sum total of his life.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published 2002 by Mariner (first published 1956)
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 Pincher Martin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pincher Martin

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my house growing up there were, I am glad to say, many books. Once I hit my early teens and began to seriously get a reading obsession, I would raid my parent's shelves for anything that might catch my eye. I was, I suspect, about 14 when this 1962 Penguin edition fell into my hands. Look at that cover. Just look at it for a second. How could I not want to read it? How could I not be already a little terrified? Reading it over the next few nights is one of the most profound early(ish) memorie ...more
Description: The sole survivor of a torpedoed destroyer is miraculously cast up on a huge, barren rock in mid-Atlantic. Pitted against him are the sea, the sun, the night cold, and the terror of his isolation. At the core of this raging tale of physical and psychological violence lies Christopher Martin’s will to live as the sum total of his life.

Opening: He was struggling in every direction, he was the centre of the writhing and kicking knot of his own body. There was no up or down, no light an
Mar 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
The worst experience I've ever had with a book. I lost it on purpose after failing to pawn it off on someone who asked me why I hated it. I told them and they said 'forget it'.
If you want a book filled with descriptive material that finds you rereading paragraphs because your mind has wandered onto something more interesting, a book with the biggest anti-ending of any book I've ever read, read this book.
I included British writer William Golding in my favorite –writer list on Goodreads , along with one of America’s best novelists Toni Morrison andE. L. Doctorow , Dutch writer Ian McEwan, famous American educator Frank McCourt, one of America’s best essayists Richard Rodriguez ,one of the best Black American revolutionary writer Richard Wright, atheists Sam Harris andChristopher Hitchens , and Filipino children writer Genaro Gojo Cruz.

His classic novel Lord of the Flies demonized me to ostentati
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is another book, like Ragtime, that for me evokes more memories of a specific time and place than of the book itself. It was sometime around 1980, and having walked and hitched from the beginning of the Appalachian Trail to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, I eventually found myself on the coast outside Ipswich. Having spent one very buggy night on the beach I was headed back into town when a wonderful gentleman by the name of Diggory Venn picked me up; having heard my story he turne ...more
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A marvellous literary supplement to any reading of Spinoza, Descartes, Liebniz, even phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty. While, superficially, Pincher Martin is a survival story, its primary conflict is found not as man vs. environment but rather man vs. self.

The novel is a meditation on the philosophical Theories of Substance. Golding chronicles the interactions of mind and body, iterating the enmeshment of their respective existences. The outer surface of the body (the skin) of main chara
Jun 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: students of human nature
Pincher Martin is the second book from 1956 about shipwreck on a deserted island. (Boon Island by Kenneth Roberts is the first.) Pincher Martin however, is alone on his rock in the mid-Atlantic and though he thinks of himself as a rational, educated and resourceful fellow, when faced with death he goes quite mad.

"Pincher" is British slang meaning a nautical person, one who serves on ships, etc. This pincher's Christian name was Christopher and as we enter his mind, we learn that he has been a g
Ivan Hrvoić
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’ve been told that the book is man’s struggle to stay alive. I came looking to see if I can find reasons for that struggle. There were no reasons, but survival instinct, primeval urge to stay alive. What I found was madness. And it was authentic one, described to the small details. Madness which comes out of loneliness. Every movement, feeling and thought is given for an experience from the first hand. I was asking myself what Golding decided to went through so he can write it that truthfully. ...more
Paul Taylor
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Impenetrable on first reading. I have read much of Golding's work (he taught diffidently at my local grammar school) and am baffled as to why he enjoys such popularity. Literally succinct his stories range from the grotesque of Lord of the Flies, the recondite of Rites of Passage and the implausible of Pincher Martin. I hope the Inheritors enables me better to understand his "genius". I will let you know in due course but please, don't hold your breath.
Rob Manwaring
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just started this, and it's been on my to-read list for a while. I really like Golding as a writer, he's both uncannily clear and also quite elliptic in his writing. This has got off to a cracking, or perhaps crashing start...

Ok, weekend away in Melbourne and I finished this on the plane. I also upgraded this from a 4 to a 5 star rating. Just simply, brilliant. I forgot how much I really like Golding's writing. This was a remorseless, unceasing read, and of course with an extravagantly brilliant
Dec 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It must have been about 20 years since I read "The Lord of the Flies". I was still a teenager, and it was one of my first books that I read in English. Even though I had to look up a lot of words, I remember how taken I was with that book. When I finished it, I thought "wow". Much later, I read "The Inheritors", which bored me to death. I didn't know what Golding was talking about. It was a book about cave men, written from a cave man's perspective, including the (presumably) respective language ...more
Oct 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know that the author was trying to capture the experience of being confused and feeling disconnected from the body, and I think he did a great job with that, but it made it hard to stay in the story. I think I'd have to read this book again to really get it. I did like how he wove the history leading to the event into the dreams and hallucinations, and I thought that the foreshadowing of the ending was subtle, but satisfying. It took me a LONG time to read this book, though, because I found it ...more
Amanda Bellino
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I thought that this book was extremely difficult to comprehend. I would not recommend this book to a friend. William Golding lacks excitement and anticipation which made me lose focus as well as interest. Pincher Martin is about the death of a man named Christopher Martin. He is dead throughout the entire book but the audience doesn't find out until the very end. The whole story is essentially flashbacks throughout Martin's life leading up to him loosing his sanity. This book really empathizes G ...more
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Published a year or two after LOTF. Excellent. Worth reading if you'd like to explore more of Golding's work. Be warned, it is incredibly dark. Like much of Golding's other work, it explores human nature. He has an interesting thesis in this work - that greed is an overwhelmingly powerful force that drives us, and that the ultimate expression of it is greed for your own life (self-preservation).
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly compelling. Golding's virtuoso prose pushes the limits. The sheer physicality of his descriptions, the sense of exhaustion and pain, is almost overwhelming. Occasionally, the narrative breaks down - on purpose - into terrifying abstractions. It's a punishing read.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: england, 2010
Read this at a rough time. The book is concerned about morality primarily, with theological undertones, but could very much apply to disenchanted mental terrains as well.
Michal Čejka
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well ... The first few dozen pages of this was a great deal of suffering. But then the book went off and it was amazing to see how the author dealt with a small geographic as well as storyline space.
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book is a bizarre, and often dreary read. I picked it up because I loved Golding's Lord of the Flies, but it didn't meet the same standard.

That isn't to say, however, that there was nothing good about the book. The ever-increasing psychoses of Martin were interesting to follow, although he was a somewhat irritating and depressing character to read about. The far-and-away best part of this book, though, was the ending. It was well-done, interesting, and thought provoking. It's a shame the r
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found an old paperback edition of this from '56. It's cover design features the words "Pincher Martin" surrounded by flatly colored red lobster claws. I picked it up because I recognized Golding's name. Then I read through it because of it's title. And I went home with it because of its cover. "Pincher Martin" is a quick, psychological story of the sole survivor in a destroyer wreck. He's stranded on a large rock in the Atlantic. He tries "greedily" to stay alive. And nature greedily takes him ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
a dark work with many of golding's motifs concerning the savage man and the absence of god. only one character, stream-of-consciousness, stranded on a rock in the uncharted sea. man versus nature at its cruelest. despite the limitations of the plot, the character moves through revelations and developments that make this a good read.
Christopher Kanas
I tried. I really did. But nope. Completely lacked any compelling interest for me. I know Golding is a big name among the classics but I could only make it about a 1/3 of the way before sheer boredom and the incoherent writing style made me want to use it for kindling.
Sep 19, 2010 rated it liked it
A brutally pessimistic look at human nature. While reading the novel, I found it helpful to read Golding's Nobel acceptance speech to serve as a reminder that he didn't completely despise humanity. As in his other works, he handles the symbols here brilliantly.
Anu Narayan
Sep 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Thickly William Golding-esque, but not an easy read. Often inexplicable, but certainly ends in style! At a little over 200 pages, it doesn't take long to devour, so don't give up on this one if you've begun.
Compelling narrative. Begs the question which death would you prefer one prolonged by futile hope exhaustion illness and periods of madness or one short and swift?
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was surprisingly horrible.
It mirrors a short story by Ambrose Bierce, maybe in a deliberately skewed way. I do not know. Sheer terror makes it worth reading.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is the most tedious book I have ever read. Period.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind-blowing. Survival, dissociation, narcissism, rape and murder, apocalypse, sea-water enema, this book has it all. The premise might sound like "Lord of the Flies, but moreso", but it really isn't. The perspective of LotF drifted a fair bit around the island, away from Ralph, but here it we're screwed tight into Martin's "dark centre", the most enduring bit of his ego. We are either feeling the physical sensations of the centre's body, or are pulled into its fragmentary memory as it remembers ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘He was struggling in every direction, he was the centre of the writhing and kicking knot of his own body.’

Meet Christopher Hadley ‘Pincher’ Martin, temporary lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Blown off his ship by a German torpedo. Alone.

Usually, when I write a book review, I try to give some sense of what the book is about, where it is set, and how I reacted to it. Most books lend themselves to this approach if, mindful of spoilers (for fiction), I avoid too much detail.

Alas, ‘Pincher Martin’ is n
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Published the year after Lord of the Flies, Golding approached this story in a very different way. It's one man's struggle with the elements, and (in the flashbacks) with his conscience as his past haunts him. The prose of the opening pages is extraordinary, as the protagonist's sense of self is overwhelmed by disconnected physical sensations near the point of death. Throughout, precise descriptions of a body battling cold and pain and hunger are a major feature of the book. Against that, more a ...more
Ruth Brumby
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful writing! I was totally gripped and fascinated. From the time when he climbed up on limpets, I was aware that the nature of the writing was not straightforward and found the exploration of a mind, written in such physical terms, enthralling.
I suspect that the view of men as central and women as objects may be Golding's as well as Christopher Martin's, but otherwise an excellent book.
« 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 spire, William Golding : notes
  • Sweet Dreams
  • The Castle of Iron
  • Cold Heaven
  • Honour Thy Father
  • The Sound of His Horn
  • The Dream Years
  • Fourth Mansions
  • A Storm of Wings
  • The Book of Ptath
  • Fata Morgana
  • Day of the Minotaur
  • The Day of Creation
  • The Malacia Tapestry
  • The Businessman
  • Triple Ripple: A Fabulous Fairytale
  • The Devil's Day (After Such Knowledge, #2-3)
  • Red Moon and Black Mountain
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
More about William Golding

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Take Me with You
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rock Harbor Collection: Without a Trace, Beyond a Doubt, Into the Deep, Cry in the Night, and Silent Night (Rock Harbor #1-5)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Shoeless Joe
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Death in Venice
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Blonde
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ever After (Lost Love, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Rescue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Lords of Discipline
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Sheltering Sky
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Gena/Finn
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain
    $14.99 $3.99
  • Remember Tuesday Morning (9/11, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under the Udala Trees
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Streets Have No King
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Passion
    $11.00 $1.99
  • The Language of Hoofbeats
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Not Perfect: A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Seekers (Kent Family Chronicles, #3)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Don Quixote
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Essex Serpent
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Storycatcher
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Domestic Violets
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Half a Heart
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel
    $9.24 $1.99
  • A Garden of Earthly Delights (Wonderland Quartet, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Notebook
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Life of Christ
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Good Mother
    $5.74 $1.99
  • The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Prequel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Go: A Coming of Age Novel
    $4.99 $1.99
  • As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Child in Time
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Lowcountry Stranger (Sweeney Sisters Series Book 2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Man in 3B
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Save Me
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time Bomb
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heat and Light: A Novel
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Reunion
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Stay Up With Me
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Loser
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Map and the Territory
    $8.99 $2.99
  • You Know Me Well
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Father's Day
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Skeletons at the Feast
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Even Now (Lost Love, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Sackett's Land: The Sacketts (Sacketts, #1)
    $5.99 $2.99
  • This Bright Beauty
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Intervention (An Intervention Novel)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
    $11.74 $1.99
  • The Sugar Queen
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Birth House
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Open City
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Out of Sorts
    $5.99 $0.99
  • The Hearts of Men: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Revolutionary Road
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Blessings
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Choke
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Bachelor Girl
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Wednesday Sisters
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Allie and Bea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • After the War Is Over: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Woods Are Dark
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Magician's Assistant
    $9.99 $2.99
  • What Belongs to You
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The History of Bees: A Novel
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Love Goddess' Cooking School
    $10.99 $2.99
  • All the Summer Girls
    $8.74 $1.99
  • The Girl From the Train
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bitter Winds (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Fear of Flying
    $19.99 $1.99
  • A Virtuous Woman (Oprah's Book Club)
    $15.95 $1.99
“Worse than madness. Sanity.” 26 likes
“I spit upon your God!” 2 likes
More quotes…