Book Review: The Lord of the Flies

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding

In his introduction to the 2011 Perigee centenary edition, Stephen King tells a story from his youth of a librarian giving him The Lord of the Flies in response to his question “Do you have any books about how kids really are?” This book is certainly a story about how kids really are, or really can be given the necessary circumstances. It is also a story about how the behavior of people in general can devolve.

It seems almost too easy to easy to compare the behavior of the boys on the island with people in the United States in the current era. How quickly we mock, question, challenge, or ignore one another. How quickly we pay lip service to ideas that we think are important for our good and the good of the community, then proceed to forget those ideas and follow our own selfish paths. How quickly we break up into tribes, follow those who will speak loudly enough or fashion the cleverest memes about their opponents, and turn on one another with little thought for the consequences.

I appreciate the fact that William Golding could, as recently as 1954, tell a story as full of interpersonal conflict as The Lord of the Flies with only the mildest of profanities. More contemporary fiction, especially twenty-first century fiction, can’t tell any kind of story without language that still gets bleeped out on broadcast media.

It took too long for me to get around to reading The Lord of the Flies. (Although it was assigned reading in high school I remember not finishing it and maybe not getting beyond the first chapter or two.) For reasons that have nothing to do with most of the action in the book taking place on or near a beach, it’s not necessarily a beach read, but it’s a great book for stirring one’s thinking about human nature and the things that we are capable of doing.

Thanks as always for stopping by!

Pat

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