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Pincher Martin

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,726 ratings  ·  148 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)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,726 ratings  ·  148 reviews


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Jonathan
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
Bettie
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 and no air. He
...more
Matthew
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.
James Tingle
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it

Just finished this novel and it's a very hard one to sum up properly. Unsettling and quite scary in a way, especially for those with a healthy respect for the ocean and it's crushing power and ridiculous depths. Without going into any details of the plot, which may spoil it, the book is only short but doesn't feel like a quick read at all as it is quite dense narrative and although there is some dialogue of sorts, it's mainly a slow, descriptive type of read. Anyone looking for a thrilling page
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Carolyn
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
...more
Joey
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 and ...more
Richard
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 turned around ...more
Joel
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.
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
Judy
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
...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.
Bryan
William Golding is an author I've had mixed feelings about, probably based on too scanty evidence. I do think Lord of the Flies is a justified classic, but Rites of Passage seemed rather pedestrian, though I may have been expecting every book of his to rise to that earlier level. I've been interested in reading Pincher Martin for a long while, to see if something written close to the same time as Flies might share some of the same power. Now that I have, I'm not sure I know any more than I did before.

Pincher Martin follo/>Pincher
...more
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 extravagant
...more
Mariele
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
Jay
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
Rob
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).
Frankie
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.
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.
Swarthout
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.
Alik
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.
Maria
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this was intense.
Riannon
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
...more
J.M. Hushour
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often hailed as a minimalist masterpiece, I'd argue that it's anything but. Sure,the setting is sparse--sailor survives the torpedoing of his destroyer during WWII and finds solace on a barren rock in the middle of the North Atlantic--but we must not confuse setting with the actual psychological context. This novel is about the disintegration of an individual's personality in an extreme, life-threatening situation. If you watched the film '127 Hours' and you thought it was too cheery, then you'l ...more
Stephan
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
Daren Kearl
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A minimalist novel that restricts its setting to a small rock in the sea. Golding makes the most of describing the smallest details and routines, which become Pincher Martin's world following a sinking ship. The last chapter throws a different light on the whole story and I found this the big reward for sticking with the novel.

I re-read this in 2019, choosing it for my book group because it had stuck with me. Glad I did. Find more reveal and new insight following a second read and am
...more
Neale
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Currently re-reading. The stylised back-story is not entirely convincing, nor is the tricksy ending, but the main section - Pincher's experience on the rock - is one of the most extraordinary feats of descriptive writing in all of literature. I can't think of anything quite like it. The language is so overwhelmingly dense and knotty and real. An amazing book.

PS: The subtitle was not part of the original book, I think, and is a serious misjudgement.
Technetium
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Certainly one of the most tedious novels I've ever read. While there is undoubtedly value in this story, I feel it could have easily been delivered in a 20 page short story without any substantial sacrifice.
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.
Mark
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.
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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. 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 h
...more
“Worse than madness. Sanity.” 31 likes
“...could a face have been fashioned to fit the attitude of his consciousness where it lay suspended between life and death that face would have worn a snarl.” 11 likes
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