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Darkness Visible [Paperback]

William Golding
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Feb 1981
A reissue of the tour de force by the Nobel laureate that is a vision of elemental reality so vivid we seem to hallucinate the scenes (The New York Times Book Review). It opens during the London blitz, when a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire; that child, Matty, becomes a wanderer and a seeker. Two more lost children await him, twins as exquisite as they are loveless. In a final conflagration, William Golding' s book lights up both the inner and outer darknesses of our time.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (2 Feb 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571116469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571116461
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 18.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 386,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Golding was born in Cornwall in 1911 and was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford. Before he became a schoolmaster he was an actor, a lecturer, a small-boat sailor and a musician. A now rare volume, Poems, appeared in 1934. In 1940 he joined the Royal Navy and saw action against battleships, submarines and aircraft. He was present at the sinking of the Bismarck. He finished the war as a Lieutenant in command of a rocket ship, which was off the French coast for the D-day invasion, and later at the island of Welcheren. After the war he returned to Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury and was there when his first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954. He gave up teaching in 1961.

Lord of the Flies was filmed by Peter Brook in 1963. Golding listed his hobbies as music, chess, sailing, archaeology and classical Greek (which he taught himself). Many of these subjects appear in his essay collections The Hot Gates and A Moving Target. He won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage in 1980, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. He was knighted in 1988. He died at his home in the summer of 1993. The Double Tongue, a novel left in draft at his death, was published in June 1995.

Product Description

Book Description

Set in the London Blitz, the classic novel by William Golding in a stunning new cover, and a new introduction. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

William Golding was born in Cornwall in 1911 and was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford. Before he became a schoolmaster he was an actor, a lecturer, a small-boat sailor and a musician. A now rare volume, Poems, appeared in 1934. In 1940 he joined the Royal Navy and saw action against battleships, and also took part in the pursuit of the Bismarck. He finished the war as a Lieutenant in command of a rocket ship, which was off the French coast for the D-Day invasion, and later at the island of Walcheren. After the war he returned to Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury and was there when his first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954. He gave up teaching in 1961. Lord of the Flies was filmed by Peter Brook in 1963. Golding listed his hobbies as music, chess, sailing, archaeology and classical Greek (which he taught himself). Many of these subjects appear in his essay collections The Hot Gates and A Moving Target. He won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage in 1980, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. He was knighted in 1988. He died at his home in the summer of 1993. The Double Tongue, a novel left in draft at his death, was published in June 1995.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Descent into darkness and evil 19 Mar 2004
By Martin Turner HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Golding's account of descents into darkness and evil is a compelling, disturbing and even nightmareish read. It picks up three characters - a spoilt, ignored and amoral girl, a horribly scarred but supernaturally endowed boy, and an aging paedophile already far down the path to dissolution.
This book makes Camus' 'La Chute' seem relatively virtuous and innocent. At the same time, Golding has a strong and mature moral purpose.
Darkness Visible is far more accessible than Pincher Martin or the Spire, and reads a lot like novels are traditionally supposed to - even as far as having an action climax with a kidnapping and a terrorist. At the same time, the overriding but undefined whiff of the supernatural is at odds with most other modernist writers, as is the moral layer.
Morally speaking, this book has a lot in common with 'Moll Flanders'. Defoe's classic novel of mistressing and prostitution is principally known for its explicit debauchery, even though Defoe ostensibly wrote it as a tract about Christian repentance. In the same way, many readers may find that they get rather closer to corruption and evil than they want as 'Darkness Visible' makes its way to its moral conclusions.
This is a rewarding book from a literary point of view. Golding experiments with a range of literary voices, ranging from an extraordinarily Dickensian emporium to pages which could have come straight from 'Women in Love'.
Unusually for Golding, who typically writes about confined worlds (an island, a cathedral close, an Egyptian city, a row of teeth) Darkness Visible swings us right the way round the world for a tour of Australia before returning us to an English prep school. This book is also expansive in time, beginning in the Second World War and moving through to the 1970s.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whoa. o.O 3 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback
Whoa.
This is an extremely powerfully written book; especially the first ten pages about the Blitz. Beautifully written, and an amazing introduction to the main character.
However, this novel is very surreal, and full of symbolism and what is probably a very detailed and fine application of Biblical scripture to the life of the main character. Some parts are *much* harder to grasp than others, but the beginning and ending sequences are amazing.
The sub-plots with the paedophile teacher, the possible whore-terrorist and so on vary in turns from dull to horrific to intriguing, but they don't seem to mix with the main plot even though there're clear links between all of them. I also think that this book is one that could use annotations, notes, or even a brief introduction to the text a la 'Lord of the Flies', but even so it's a very draining book.
Not for everyone, certainly; but a very surreal and compelling book. I was tired after reading this. At only two hundred and seventy some pages tis takes a lot out of you between the dullness of one plot, the disgust at reading from the POV of the teacher (far more explicit at times than 'Lolita', and definitely creepier) and the religious spirituality/insanity/confusion of the main plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some light in the darkness 12 May 2010
By D Webster VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Darkness Visible is a compelling and disturbing read. I was struck from first chapter by the degree of imaginative immersion Golding has in his subjects and characters. This hits you between the eyes as very unusual and is reason enough to read him. I don't, however think this a perfect novel, though for its type and for its audaciousness, it is extremely good and I want to read more.

Golding's service years which included helping sink the Bismark in 1940 were certainly drawn upon in the opening fire scene where we first meet our disparaged hero Matty as a child, alive yet profoundly scarred.

Golding captures the inchoate nature of thought and conversation, as well as the elusive verbal `clicking on first meeting' Sophy experiences when she meets Gerry (think Ian Brady and Myra). Furthermore, Golding explores the thought processes of children, not only un-mothered and unloved Matty but the psychopathic child Sophy. Golding was a father himself and had been a teacher before he resigned in 1961, so he knew one or two things about children, but the act of reaching inside the minds of these children and following their faulty (and in Sophy's case heartless) conclusions read like an act of writerly mediumship and stimulated memories of my own thinking processes as a child. Intriugingly, Golding was very interested in memory and the imagination and was only too aware that his story-telling self far outweighed access to his childhood memories. Golding also reaches into the mind of the pedophile teacher Mr Pedigree, a character so richly painted I felt convinced he must have met a fore-runner for Pedigree at some point in his life, perhaps as schoolboy or teacher.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars -- compelling story but has slow parts 27 May 2007
By anibani
Format:Paperback
What brings people to commit acts of evil? Is it sheer boredom (that Sophy Stanhope experiences) or the uncontrollable urges present in some mental illnesses (as that of Mr. Pedigree)? William Golding describes clearly what goes through these characters' minds -- the thrill that escalates with each more daring crime they commit, the cold calculation of risk, helplessness to addictive behavior, the despair and regret over wasted years. This is in contrast with the central character, Matty, whose decision to do good deeds and yet be completely isolated from people is the product of tragic events early in his life. There is a naive/adolescent-like search for life's purpose that he never outgrows. The development of these three characters is well told, and the last half of the novel is well-paced and hard to put down (first half has some very slow chapters). Like 'Lord of the Flies', 'Darkness Visible' disturbingly and effectively reminds us of the good and evil that is inerent in everyone.
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