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Frank Kermode, 17 June 1982

A Moving Target 
by William Golding.
Faber, 202 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 571 11822 4
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... William Golding is evidently a bit fed up with being the author of Lord of the Flies. It was greeted with proper applause when it came out in 1954, but soon became the livre de chevet of American youth, and, worse, a favoured text in the classroom in the years of the great boom in Eng Lit, when a sterile popular variety of the New Criticism was encouraging all manner of dreary foolishness; whereupon the cognoscenti turned away, and called the book naive ...
Darkness Visible 
by William Golding.
Faber, 256 pp., £4.95, January 1979, 0 571 11646 9
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... enough. Richard Hughes was one of our most effective local magicians; John Fowles has become one; William Golding has had the status a long time. His new novel confirms him as a master craftsman in his particular sort of magic. It is beautifully constructed, it grips the reader – so much so that its effectiveness gives it the air, a little ...


Frank Kermode, 1 March 1984

The Paper Men 
by William Golding.
Faber, 191 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 571 13206 5
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William GoldingA Critical Study 
by Mark Kinkead-Weekes and Ian Gregor.
Faber, 291 pp., £3.50, February 1984, 0 571 13259 6
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... other’ but ‘without prejudice to the power of its concrete reality here and now’. William Golding is obviously in some sense a religious writer, though not Catholic, and the formula of Auerbach applies reasonably well to what he attempts. But he is concerned with the interpenetration of man-made and supernatural plotting rather from the ...

Passing through

Ahdaf Soueif: William Golding’s ‘Egyptian Journal’, 3 October 1985

An Egyptian Journal 
by William Golding.
Faber, 207 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 571 13593 5
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... About ten years ago, on a previous visit to Egypt, William Golding arrived at ‘a simple truth: that Egypt is a complex country of more-or-less Arab culture and it is outrageous for the uninformed visitor to confine himself to dead Egyptians while the strange life of the valley and the desert goes on all round him ...

The Guilt Laureate

Frank Kermode, 6 July 1995

The Double Tongue 
by William Golding.
Faber, 160 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 0 571 17526 0
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... A publisher’s note explains that when William Golding died he had written two drafts of this novel, and was about to begin a third. The signs are that this might have been longer than the second, but not substantially different. Some necessary editing has been done, on the basis of notes made by Golding in his journal, and there is a page of typescript missing in the middle of the book ...


Frank Kermode: William Golding, 5 November 2009

William GoldingThe Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... John Carey has had access to voluminous archives stored in the Faber basement or in the keeping of William Golding’s family. No one else may see them; he alone can quote from unpublished novels, journals, memoirs, correspondence and conversations. He has made excellent use of these privileges, and the result is a full, friendly, and on proper occasions candid, account of a remarkable man, who took a long time to achieve an understanding of how truly remarkable he was, and then did so only fitfully ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... novelists, however, look back in different moods and at different primal events and seedtimes. For William Golding (Darkness Visible) the focus was the Blitz and the Second World War, which secreted the modern age’s poison as a bee secretes honey. In Angus Wilson’s latest work (Setting the World on Fire) the narrative hinges on the crucial ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... are uncommon in the book’s 1957-59, which abstains from the desire expressed at the time by William Golding to blow up Eton College. Bloomsbury’s Frances Partridge, queen of the diary put-down, seems to have wanted to blow up television, ‘the box in the corner’. In the flat of her friend Robert Kee, a great asset to the box in the corner, she ...

Reading with No Clothes on

Michael Hofmann: Guernsey’s Bard, 24 January 2008

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by G.B. Edwards.
NYRB, 400 pp., £10.99, July 2007, 978 1 59017 233 9
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... of Ebenezer Le Page is one more instance – beyond the usually trotted out Lord of the Flies by William Golding, who was an admirer – of why that might be a pity, and why, ice-caps permitting, we might come to regret it. Gerald Basil Edwards was born on Guernsey in 1899 and died in Weymouth in 1976, after a life spent largely in English exile, and ...

Taken aback

Frank Kermode, 25 June 1987

Close Quarters 
by William Golding.
Faber, 281 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 571 14779 8
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... William Golding’s Rites of Passage, which appeared seven years ago, purported to be an account, by a young toff, good-natured but still wet behind the ears, of a voyage to Australia, around 1814, in a clapped-out English warship reduced to carrying emigrants. Keeping a journal for the amusement of his noble patron, he tells of a comical amorous adventure with an emigrant female, a patronising friendship with an ex-lower-deck first lieutenant (‘allow me to congratulate you on imitating to perfection the manners and speech of a somewhat higher station in life than you were born to’), and various puppyish acts of indiscipline and breaches of Naval etiquette which set him at odds with the captain ...


John Sutherland, 18 November 1993

by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 313 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 316 90688 3
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Against a Dark Background 
by Iain M. Banks.
Orbit, 496 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 1 85723 185 6
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... Banks may have as much trouble getting out from under the success of his first novel as did William Golding. It was a memorable debut. The Wasp Factory provoked a moral panic in 1984. The TLS critic called it the ‘literary equivalent of the nastiest kind of juvenile delinquency’; Margaret Forster thought it less a novel than the script for a ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: First Impressions, 16 August 2007

... as Crosby? Of if Austen hadn’t been able to raise the money? Would she have kept trying – like William Golding, submitting and resubmitting Lord of the Flies 22 times? Or, what if, once Austen’s novels were published, no one noticed them? Moby-Dick sold 3180 copies in Melville’s lifetime – only two copies were bought in 1876 – and went out of ...

Men at Sea

Robert Taubman, 6 November 1980

Rites of Passage 
by William Golding.
Faber, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 571 11639 6
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... William Golding’s working material, the stuff he lights upon and makes his novels out of – and which he regularly proceeds to subvert or transform to his purpose, introducing levels of meaning unsuspected in the raw stuff – never ceases to retain its importance for these novels. Coral Island, we all know, provided the working material for Lord of the Flies; and if Mr Golding’s purpose was to subvert a favourite myth about English boyhood, he nevertheless chose a worthy myth – one we can still half assent to while half persuaded by the black, reductive alternative ...

Like Apollinaire

Michael Wood, 4 April 1996

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by Paul St John Mackintosh and Maki Sugiyama.
Boyars, 189 pp., £14.95, May 1995, 0 7145 2997 4
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A Personal Matter 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by John Nathan.
Picador, 165 pp., £5.99, January 1996, 0 330 34435 8
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Hiroshima Notes 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by David Swain and Toshi Yonezawa.
Boyars, 192 pp., £14.95, August 1995, 0 7145 3007 7
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... it was we were reading in the wake of Sartre and Camus, and before the Sixties became the Sixties. William Golding, Iris Murdoch, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Thomas Pynchon, who else? Oë wrote his graduation thesis on Sartre (in 1959), and evokes Camus in Hiroshima Notes: ‘A plague that ravages a city in North Africa, for example, appears as an ...

Make mine a Worcester Sauce

John Bayley, 23 June 1994

Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... role. For all Hughes’s throwaway manner and air of untroubled expertise (he sometimes reads like William Empson trying his hand at a tale of adventure), there is, as with Kipling, a kind of innocence which is part of the charm. When Amabel Williams-Ellis, who read the first draft of A High Wind for him, sensibly objected that there could not but have been ...

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