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William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies [Hardcover]

John Carey
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 20.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2009
William Golding was born in 1911 and educated at his local grammar school and Brasenose College, Oxford. He published a volume of poems in 1934 and during the war served in the Royal Navy. Afterwards he returned to being a schoolmaster in Salisbury. Lord of the Flies, his first novel, was an immediate success, and was followed by a series of remarkable novels, including The Inheritors, Pincher Martin and The Spire. He won the Booker Prize for Rites of Passage in 1980, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983, and was knighted in 1988. He died in 1993.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571231632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571231638
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Golding deserves rediscovery, and if he gets it, then this biography -- sympathetic without being idolatrous, detailed without becoming boring, learned, witty, insightful and humane: a model of its kind -- will be in a large measure responsible.' --Robert Harris, Sunday Times

'Superb biography … in Carey [Golding] has found a biographer who is wonderfully alive both to his strangeness as a man and to the desperate brilliance of his fiction.' --Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph

'A dignified, scholarly life, which convincingly claims Golding as one of the 20th-century s great writers ... there is much fascinating material here ... [Carey's] life of Golding should ensure that we go back to the books.' --Ian Thomson, Irish Times

Book Description

The first authorised biography of one of the foremost novelists of the twentieth century.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Biography at its Best 17 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
John Carey's biography of Golding gives a very balanced view of a complex man. Well-loved by his friends, sometimes generous, he was a drunk who let himself down on a variety of occasions,a man with a chip on his shoulder about toffs, which he aspired to be when lobbying for his knighthood.
Carey does not assume that the reader has read all Golding's novels and his summaries, especially of those that are lesser known, are helpful. The literary criticism is far from excessive, but contains some interesting perceptions.

Altogether a fine biography of a great novelist and an interesting and finally likeable man.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Open minded 14 Sep 2009
There was a great deal of advance publicity for this book, much of it focusing on salacious revelations about Golding's apparent self loathing.If your reading of it is inspired by this ( and Goldings early sexual misadventures)you will find much to satisfy and intrigue. This is a very well written biography. You get the sense that you are in the hands of a consumate writer who has constructed a well balanced account of Golding's life.

Golding's searingly honest account of his life, written for the benefit of his wife, looms large ( but not too large) in this account, and Carey affords the reader much scope for cod psychology and speculation about the genesis and meaning of "Lord of the Flies", but as Carey skilfully demonstrates, while these two areas may attract many to this book, there was a lot more to Golding than either his most famous book or his dark side would suggest
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year 30 Aug 2009
By Ryan Williams VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You know what to expect in advance from John Carey. With any other author, that would be a bad thing. With Carey, it's part of his integrity. In the introduction to Original Copy, his 1987 selection of reviews and journalism, Carey reminds that us that 'given the nature of subjective nature of literary judgement, the reader has a right to know what sort of person will be laying down the law in the rest of book - what his quirks and prejudices are, and what sort of background has formed him.'

So with this, Carey's long (and eagerly) awaited biography of Golding, you expect the law to cheer on grammar schools, vegetable gardening and divided personalities, and sneer at snobbery, Dons, and magical thinking. Golding's dabbling with anthroposophy, you think, is in for a particular thrashing. And as for Golding's public-schooled contemporaries at Brasenose College....

But that's half the fun, of course. Flaubert said that when you write a friend's biography, you must do it as though you were taking revenge on his behalf. Whether you agree Golding was the abject literary outsider that Carey makes him out to be, you still share his partisan sense of outrage. Take the film critic C.A. Lejeune's response, in chapter fourteen, to Pincher Martin: 'To me it belongs to a class of reading that I deplore, which looks at nothing except what I call the underbelly of the human body, and it sees nothing except what I call the nasty side of it, the horrid side of it.' Behind that you can hear the objection of every person who has ever junked a great book because it's 'too grim', 'depressing' or - this above all - 'doesn't teach me anything'. Carey's response makes gratifying reading; as does his response to Auberon Waugh ('so clearly the voice of a Young Turk eager to make a splash').
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The simple yet seldom achieved foundations of a good biography are thoroughness and insight, and this book not only actualises those laurels but goes far above and beyond them. Golding is presented as a whole - a full, complex and conflicted human being, possessing intelligence, talent, morality, wit, quirks and darknesses - with tact and tenderness, but also with unflinching yet non-judgemental honesty. The depths of Carey's research and respect are obvious and make the book the masterpiece it is: a biographer lacking his sensitivity, perspicacity and considerable writing talent would have failed William Golding as both a subject and a man, and left us without this incredibly special book. This is an indispensible, enriching and treasurable account of Golding and his life that takes away all cliché from the idea that a book can make you feel closer to a person - by realising the notion perfectly. With Golding having passed just over 20 years ago, this is an especially rare and important feat, for those of us who care now and those who will in the future.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golding - the man revealed 6 Nov 2010
I admit to reservations about Golding's oeuvre. I would not classify any of his novels as great and some, like 'Free Fall', are best forgotten. That (eccentric) judgement aside, I cannot praise John Carey's biography too highly. If you are interested in the novels, the main among them are summarised and more importantly their 'archaeology' is explored. We see Golding struggling with his work; and Carey traces the stages novels passed through before publication. Also Carey makes Golding a three-dimensional figure. Golding emerges as a person, not just an author. The homosexual element, I won't say in his personality but in his imagination, is sensitively explored. John Carey never writes a bad book and here his wry humour, independence of judgement and fine scholarship have produced a biography that's simply A1.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I was looking forward to reading this - but some of the content and language is much too explicit and unsuitable to read
Published 2 months ago by Resurgam
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping The Flame Alive
John Carey's first biography of William Golding sheds new light on the brilliant man. A good read and has a reference feel which reveals some of the brilliance of the novels, say... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dan Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Golding biography
A well written, well informed book about a fascinating man, with great insights into the mind of this ( surprisingly) rather vulnerable author. Read more
Published 6 months ago by baz123
3.0 out of 5 stars Covers some quite dull ground
Much is made of the "rape" which turns out to be quite a mild indecent assault, more of a dubiously unwelcome adolescent fumble. Read more
Published 20 months ago by will
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
This professional but slightly disappointing biography is interesting on the motivations and development of Golding's main books ... but it is far too long. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Pelagius
4.0 out of 5 stars W Golding , Man who wrote Lord of the Flies
Intriguing piece of writing, very revelatory about this author. Very worth reading if you have any interest or curiosity about Golding and how his masrepiece came to be written. Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by Del the dog
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book
one of the best books i have read in a while - of any genre. William Golding was a fascinating character, examined with insight detailed klnowledge and John Carey's unfailing... Read more
Published on 24 Dec 2011 by vanilla
3.0 out of 5 stars A voice crying in the wilderness
The author is, I think, the first person to be let loose with the William Golding archives since the latter's death. Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by tigerrr
4.0 out of 5 stars The Genius of William Golding
The problem of writing a literary classic at the first published attempt is that everything produced thereafter is compared to that first masterpiece. Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2009 by Stuart Mcleod
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