The novels of William Golding

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In life, he felt he was clownish, in the good and the bad sense. This imaginative reconstruction of the life of a band of Neanderthals speaks to the side of Golding that always revelled in the primal and the potentially savage. I loved him very much, more than anyone, until I had children.

Lord of the Flies First Edition by William Golding

But he was ruthless, and that ruthlessness impacted on all of us. He was alert to the darkness and this came from the war [Golding served on minesweepers in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War]. And it stayed with him. A lot of people, veterans in the 50s, took a different attitude to the war. They said: 'Well, that was then; this is now,' and got on with their lives.

Daddy didn't do that. The war cropped up, as an experience, all the way through my childhood. It was at sea, aboard the Wild Rose, that Golding could escape the demons of class, inferiority and what we might now call post-traumatic stress that haunted him all his life. Golding — who coined the term for James Lovelock's concept of Gaia, and who believed the sea is the mother of all mankind, in the sense that it's from the ocean that life first crawled ashore — had an elemental relationship with the sea.

It was the sea that precipitated his biggest crisis — a year spiral of drunkenness, despair and disabling self-hatred. Judy remembers it as "a lovely boat, slightly oversized and varnished, with winches and lee boards.

Category:Novels by William Golding - Wikipedia

It could sleep eight or nine. Golding loved this boat, boasting in a Guardian article of its "bowsprit that can be cocked up to 45 degrees and gives her the air of dating from the 17th century". On 13 July he put to sea with his family to sail to France. Golding steered to avoid a head-on collision but the two vessels collided, and the Tenace began to sink. After several minutes of terror on the sea, Golding and his family were rescued, but his pride and joy, the Tenace, was lost. In a sense, Golding went down with his ship. This dreadful moment of failure and humiliation came to haunt Golding.

He was 53 and feeling his age. He vowed he would never again be responsible for the lives of others at sea, and never sailed again. By the late s, says Judy, "he was becoming very troubled, and there were some very bad episodes of drink".

William Golding: the making of a novelist

For the family, Golding's personal crisis was exacerbated by the appearance in his life of a devoted literary admirer, the American scholar Virginia Tiger. She was then the wife of the anthropologist Lionel Tiger and had corresponded with Golding about her doctoral dissertation on his work. Usually, he ignored such interest, but this time he responded. His daughter remembers the impact of her appearance on the scene. She caused a great furore at home between my parents.

The Inheritors: the intimate secrets in William Golding's Neanderthal tale

All at once she found that role being challenged emotionally and artistically. When he began his dream diaries in , Golding addressed what he called his "crisis" on the very first page with his characteristic refusal to turn away from the dark side of his nature. But by 71, it was unendurable. Not only did life seem pointless, there was a kind of raw intensity about daylight… On top of that there was an insomniac length to every night when each second had its own weight, its own tiny addition, like a Chinese water torture.

Sleep and dreaming came as a relief. His dreams were often focused on his past — his childhood, his wartime experiences, and his relationship with his parents. There were bizarre episodes on suicide and homosexual humiliation. Golding often dreamed about trees, and some of these dreams have trees performing music. His "recurrent nightmare" is that he is about to be executed.

In contrast to such prevailing darkness, Golding maintained that his "dream ego" was childlike and innocent, with dreams of startling beauty and intensity, expressed in vivid primary colours. Between the dreams, meticulously numbered and recorded in Letts diaries, came the insomnia.

His daughter, Judy, connects this crisis to her father's difficulties with his next novel. This, she remembers, became "the one thing you mustn't talk about". There were so many elements to Golding's crisis that she "is not sure which was the crucial one". But the failure to write his next novel was, professionally, a huge blow, and it dogged him throughout the s. No longer could he escape to sea. There was the inexorable search for what Golding called his "magic", the creative spark that would light up his novelist's imagination.

For years, the struggle was intractable, but by he had begun to work on the book that he would never, ever, talk about: Darkness Visible. The novel, eventually one of his shortest, ballooned into a massive and unwieldy typescript that became a kind of lightning conductor for the traumas of the crisis, and gradually he recovered his equilibrium. The extraordinary thing, looking back, is that he was also working on Rites of Passage at the same time. This historical novel, that went on to win the Booker Prize in a head-to-head with Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess, reconciles all William Golding's inner conflicts, and transforms them into a work of art.

He looked down at them and saw that Tuami was not only lying with the fat woman but eating her as well for there was black blood running from the lobe of her ear. It is by far the most successful sex scene my father ever wrote.

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The book takes as its premise an encounter, tragic and definitive, between a small group of Neanderthals and a larger group of Homo sapiens. We, the readers, are Homo sapien s and much of the novel is permeated by a kind of species guilt. My father began the novel in the autumn of , a few weeks after the publication of Lord of the Flies.

Many reviews had been good, and the sales were respectable; he was a published writer. Here at once we see a paradox. My father was always full of self-doubt and very dependent on these two trusted critics. But at the same time his writing was vivid, original and — you would have said — fearless. It was also fast: the first draft took him little more than a month, astonishing when you consider that he had a fulltime teaching job as well. It was barely nine years since the end of the second world war. Postwar austerity and rationing had restricted life to a degree hard to convey now.

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Housing was desperately lacking. Food was not plentiful, and even scarcity could not make it interesting. Small wonder then that hunger is one of the dominant themes of The Inheritors — an aching hunger that slows you down and makes you less able to move but also to think. It is hunger that produces the darkest event in the book, and the deepest sense of guilt.

I believe this guilt is in some ways an expression of the complex remorse my father felt for the war. He felt guilt, not only over the people that he himself had killed during the war — and he was completely clear he had done so — but also for the role of his species in creating the whole machinery of war. The plot of The Inheritors depends on the novelist creating a sense of family in both groups. Among the New People there are quarrels and rivalries.

But among the Neanderthals, the family group is intensely precious; the need and love people have for each other are overwhelming. The reader shares the experience. This is all the more remarkable because the feelings of Lok and his family have to be shown to the reader in a way that demonstrates that they barely have language — even their thought is not sequential or logical. He set the novel in a beech forest in northern Europe, and he stated quite unequivocally that it was Savernake Forest near Marlborough, the town where he had lived as a child.

It is a beautiful place, originally a hunting park, now full of mature beech and oak, a glorious retreat of beauty and peace. My father knew from his earliest childhood, but one of his earliest and most powerful memories is of a twilight walk there with his parents — he is about four — when they hide behind a tree, leaving him alone.

He turns and sees the enormous head of a stag looking at him over the bracken. The forest and the stag are there in The Inheritors, but, I would claim, so are his parents. Several critics — including Arthur Koestler, who knew my parents — have thought that Lok and Fa, his lover and companion, were my mother and father, and I think they are right. Mal treats her with tremendous respect, referring to her in the third person, rather like the formal mode in many European languages.

I believe that these two people are based on my grandparents. In my grandfather was 78 and beginning to fade. But now I can see in photos that he, like Mal, was growing weaker. He died in , an event which my father described as being like the side of a cliff falling away, a phrase reminiscent of the ice-falls and landslips in the novel. As for my grandmother, she was 84, and as shrunken and crumpled as the old woman in the book. But she was still capable of sharpness and command.