Currently reading: The Asylum by John Harwood
I keep seeing stuff about Lord of the Flies going around
Obviously, the individual experiences of the people making the posts - re: teachers, lessons, the way they were forced to study the book - aren’t up for debate
but like, I feel that people might not have the whole story here and as someone who knows far too much about literature, I wanted to talk about it a little
Sir William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies in response to an earlier novel called The Coral Island. In The Coral Island, a small group of upper-class British boys from a boarding school get stranded on an island and have an absolutely wonderful time. They look back on it as a fond adventure, where they had a little vacation, invented things, and generally made their well-bred high society English parents proud.
Sir William Golding read that novel and was disgusted by the way that R. M. Ballantyne used the plot as a huge essay on the superior intellect and higher morality of English folk (read: white people). The boys in The Coral Island eventually have to seek the aid of Christian missionaries (who are there to convert the local Polynesian populace) to save them from the natives who are written as raping pillaging amoral cannibals.
Sir William Golding set out to write a more realistic novel, by the way, using the same names for his main characters as Ballantyne did (although Golding’s characters are slightly younger). So, all the posts about Lord of the Flies showing the “human condition” insofar as it pertains to young middle-class British boys who grew up in a boarding house in the middle of the Cold War are correct. But I get the feeling that most people don’t realize that was the point of the novel.
Lord of the Flies was meant as a huge “fuck you” to the ingrained belief that English people are the most noble and wise of all people and thus incapable of descending into savagery. I doubt it was ever meant to be a sweeping generalized metaphor for the universal savage nature of humanity, and shame on the teachers who force that interpretation on their students.
So, really, Golding essentially created a transformative works remix of The Coral Island because it made him so angry.
Let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go it
was sworn to
let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the “boths” and
“neithers” - you must let them go they
let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go
so comes love.”
—e.e cummings, “Let It Go” (via fables-of-the-reconstruction)