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Rites of Passage [Hardcover]

William Golding
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Reprint edition (1981)
  • ISBN-10: 0571116396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571116393
  • ASIN: B0012UV46Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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.

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London published Fiction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully evocative and moving 3 Jan 2007
By Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane TOP 100 REVIEWER
I read this book when it was first published and have since revisited it a couple of times. It is a wonderfully imagined account of a sea voyage to Australia at the time of Napoleonic Wars. The very mixed group of emigrants experience conditions aboard which are completely convincing - cramped, unpleasant, smelly and highly dangerous - with an equally covincing hierarchy of naval personnel. Everyone is interesting, everyone is fully characterised. Mostly it is seen through the eyes of young Mr. Talbot, who is on his way to make a distinguished career in the colonies.

He has nothing but contempt for the apparently ridiculous clergyman, Colley, but in that he sadly mistaken, as he discovers when he finds and reads Colley's journal, and it is in Colley that the tragedy in the book lies. This is a most original book written by a very great novelist, and it deals as always with Golding with the great theme of good and evil revealed through the characters, their attitudes and how they behave. It won the Booker prize and was a very worthy winner. It is just as powerful today as it was then.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsettlingly Brilliant 13 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
William Golding's Booker Prize Winner 'Rites of Passage' is presented in the form of a journal written by Edmund Talbot, a young gentleman travelling on board a ship from England to Australia during the Napoleonic Wars. Talbot, writing the journal for the enjoyment of his titled godfather, begins his account fairly benignly with descriptions of his fellow passengers and members of the crew. Amongst the passengers Talbot describes, there is Reverend Robert James Colley, a young clergyman intent on behaving as a man of the cloth should, despite a lack of good Christian followers; there is Wilmot Brocklebank, an artist, who is travelling with his so-called wife and daughter, neither of whom are what they initially appear to be; and there is Miss Granham, a governess, who is pleasant in appearance but past her first flush of youth. Amongst the crew we meet Captain Anderson, a bully who has an intense disliking for clergymen, and his subordinates: Mr Deverel, a gentleman officer who doesn't always behave like one, and Mr Summers, a man from the lower ranks who has worked his way up and does his best to behave in a gentlemanly manner. At first, not a huge amount happens; the reader is entertained, or otherwise, by Talbot's observations of his fellow travellers, and we are invited to mock the clownish antics of the Reverend Colley, and then things move up a pace when Talbot becomes intimately involved with a female passenger, who seems to be sharing her favours with others. However, as the story progresses and the terrible on-board experiences of Reverend Colley are gradually revealed to the reader, we begin to see the darker underbelly to this story of bullying, degradation, humiliation and shame. Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tragical farce 27 Feb 2010
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The year is 1814, when an old frigate sets sail from England, destined for Australia. Its captain is the gruff Anderson who has a short temper and rather roars than speaks. Aboard his ship is a motley crew: Mr. Brocklebank (a painter, given to drink) accompanied by his wife and daughter, the radical Mr. Prettiman, the staunch governess Miss Granham, ... and one Edmund Talbot who is godson to an English peer and on his way to join the staff of the governor of Australia. It is through Talbot's journal, kept for the benefit of his godfather, that we get the chronicle of this luckless ship.

The parson Mr. Colley, one of the other passengers, is what Trollope would call a 'hobbledehoy', and he soon becomes the object of ridicule among the other passengers and the ship's sailors. The consequences, ultimately, are tragical. Mr. Colley, one could say, fails to pass his rites of passage.

Until recently Golding was to me simply the author of 'Lord of the Flies', and having read that I foolishly assumed that he had written nothing else worthwhile reading. I readily grant now that I couldn't have been more mistaken. 'Rites of passage' is a truly marvelous novel in several respects. In the same way as with the island in 'Lord of the Flies', the ship in this book is a microcosm, reflecting and magnifying, as on a stage, the morals of society (and not just early 19th society). Though on the surface everyone aboard is polite, and the book abounds in farcical and ludicrous scenes, the tragic fate of Mr. Colley reveals the deeply embedded hypocrisy of each and every passenger.

Talbot himself too, however unwillingly, has to pass his own rites of passage in coming to terms with his behaviour towards Mr.
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5.0 out of 5 stars On the edge 20 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Golding makes you feel apart of Talbot's life. He has to understand himself amongst the ship. A little like Hornblower, however women are on the ship. Could this be the reason for their misfortunes?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful And Evocative 22 Feb 2013
By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This 1980 work (the first part in the To The Ends Of The Earth trilogy) by William Golding is (for me) a book of astonishing power -dealing, as it does, with themes of class, religion and sexuality in the early 19th century - but a power that, for much of the novel, is latent and is skilfully hidden by the way Golding has constructed his tale. By the time Rites Of Passage reaches its conclusion, however, its impact on this reader falls not far short of that of his ultimate masterpiece, Lord Of The Flies.

Indeed, as with his 1954 debut novel, Rites Of Passage, set aboard a warship bound for Australia in the early 19th century, focuses on a group of disparate characters, many of whose social grounding is disrupted by their travelling conditions and companions, and whose isolation sparks bouts of depression and eccentricity. Golding has constructed Rites Of Passage as a series of journal (diary) entries written (to his upper-class godfather) by Edmund Talbot, a gentleman, whose formality and reservation (largely) restrains him from expressing his true feelings within his travelling circle. Whether it be his frustration with the ship's rules and regulations (as dispensed by the mercurial Lieutenant Summers or the outwardly sympathetic Deverel) or the unpredictability of his fellow passengers (the cantankerous Mr Prettiman, object of desire Miss Brocklebank, the upstanding governess Miss Granham), in Talbot Golding has created one of his most complex and ambiguous characters.

At the heart of Rites Of Passage, however, is Talbot's sense of guilt and complicity around the treatment by the ship's tyrannical captain Anderson of the nervous and reticent parson, the Reverend Robert James Colley.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rites of Passage - William Golding
This is one of those novels that is a real work of real art. That is, as opposed to an academic exercise, I suppose. Read more
Published 7 months ago by RachelWalker
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful / repugnant
Golding continues to appal me and yet I keep coming back for more.

This is a beautiful book. The structure, pace and characters are all perfect. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2012 by Dan Crawford
4.0 out of 5 stars 'a sea story with never a tempest, no shipwreck, no sinking, no...
I read this in one sitting, wanting to know what had happened!
The novel is narrated by a somewhat arrogant young man en route to Australia in 1800. Read more
Published on 19 April 2012 by sally tarbox
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldling's Trilogy

One of Golding's narrative techniques is to isolate his characters, to shut them away from normal society - "Lord of the Flies", an island;... Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2011 by RR Waller
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not get through it
It's not often I can't finish a book and I have much enjoyed and admired some of Golding's former masterpieces such as Darkness Visible and Free Fall. Read more
Published on 16 May 2011 by A. Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars A cleverly woven second volume to Lord of the Flies
Talbot a well-born young gentleman writes a journal documenting his passage on a sailing ship bound for Australia. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2009 by Talc Demon
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and atmospheric
This is a slow-moving but highly atmospheric book. Like 'the Inheritors' Golding uses a change of perspective towards the end of the story to radically change the atmosphere. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Technically superb but a little dull
Golding is a master of the English language and it shows here, with a vivid account of life at sea in the 19th Century. Read more
Published on 5 Nov 2003 by "del49"
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