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Free Fall Paperback – 1 Jan 1961

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; First Edition edition (1 Jan. 1961)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0571062849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571062843
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 1.8 x 18.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,015,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Free Fall by William Golding - now with an introduction by John Gray - is a tale of war, incarceration and free will, from the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature and author of Lord of the Flies. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"I was standing up, pressed back against the wall, trying not to breathe. I got there in the one movement my body made. My body had many hairs on legs and belly and chest and head, and each had its own life; each inherited a hundred thousand years of loathing and fear for things that scuttle or slide or crawl." from Free Fall
Sammy Mountjoy, artist, rises from poverty and an obscure birth to see his pictures hung in the Tate Gallery. Swept into World War II, he is taken as a prisoner-of-war, threatened with torture, then locked in a cell of total darkness to wait. He emerges from his cell like Lazarus from the tomb, seeing infinity in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour. Transfigured by his ordeal, he begins to realize what man can be and what he has gradually made of himself through his own choices. He determines to find the exact point at which the accumulated weight of those choices has deprived him of free will.
Born in Cornwall, England, William Golding started writing at the age of seven. Though he studied natural sciences at Oxford to please his parents, he also studied English and published his first book, a collection of poems, before finishing college. He served in the Royal Navy during World War II, participating in the Normandy invasion. Golding's other novels include Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, The Spire, Rites of Passage (Booker Prize), and The Double Tongue.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Golding takes Sammy from incoherent childhood with a drunken mother in the dissolute, but stimulating slums, through fostering with a repressed vicar, to adulation as a talented young artist, where his destructive obsession with an old schoolmate leaves him apparently unharmed, but has far worse consequences for her. Golding's exploration of the burden of this on Sammy's subsequent life, and his examination of the relationship between the hunter and the hunted, are chillingly realised. Not an easy book, especially during the prisoner-of-war sections, but one that will leave you feeling you've seen a part of the world, or a part of the human psyche, you'd only dimly realised existed.
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Format: Paperback
Free Fall opens with one of the most stunning first paragraphs I have ever, or am ever likely to, read. Golding is the master of the poetic image: few writers have such an uncanny ability to conjure up such exact pictures in the reader’s mind’s eye or to draw such empathy. Indeed, I had to wrench myself away from it in order to read the rest of the book, so long did I want to linger there and savour its beauty. Golding’s perfect prose stands as a challenge to the more base expression of lesser writers. The novel deals with free will/freedom, and what happens when it is lost (perhaps via the very mechanism of free will) through the eyes of artist Samuel Mountjoy, who narrates the piece: andante, and predominantly in flashback. (Do not be put off, by the way, when I say that the pace is andante, it is andante as opposed to largo. This book does not drag, it is a consistently engaging read.)
Through an analysis of his past, he tries to make sense of his life, of himself, and of humanity in general. Other themes which emerge during the course of the book are: Love, Life, Guilt, the perplexities of childhood and the heavy responsibilities of adulthood, war, politics, inequity, injustice etc. Golding touches on some, and expounds on others more elaborately. In the hands of a lesser author, the sheer volume and complexity of these interrelated and interwoven themes would soon become a hopeless muddle, but Golding’s touch is sure, and the result is glorious polyphony, rather than terrible cacophony.
Through Mountjoy, Golding explores the nature of a human being, our essence, what some might call a soul, and the inadequacy of language as a medium for communicating or expressing that inner self.
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Format: Paperback
This stunning novel could have been called A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man but I think someone had already nabbed that title, though this cleverly elusive one does just as well. Protagonist Sammy Mountjoy, a famous painter, is born a bastard (in more ways than one) in a slum area - Rotten Row - of a Kent town where he lives with his slatternly but good-hearted mum. We witness scenes from Sammy's childhood, vividly engraved on his adult memory (a disturbed little girl wetting herself, for example, just as one does at the end) and, as ever with WG and children, these are superbly rendered. We follow his progress in a non-linear way to young adulthood and a shabby betrayal, the possible consequences of which are detailed in the final chapter. In all of this Sammy wants to learn when he "lost his freedom", which he did literally at one point when imprisoned by the Germans during the war, a sweatily nightmarish scene of a man forced to torture himself with inescapable truths. Emotional torture is a big part of the book, witness RE teacher's Miss Pringle's humiliation of Sammy in a scene that surely inspired Dennis Potter to replicate it in The Singing Detective, and the prevailing hue is grey (days are mostly grey here), ironically apt for a man who presumably uses colour to express himself but exists in a fog of moral ambivalence. All of this sounds miserable - "Happiness isn't your business, Sammy" - and indeed it is not a happy tale, though it has some brilliantly comic moments. What it is, however, is a work of the highest artistic integrity and skill, one of those rare books with the power to transform the receptive reader. In short, it is a classic.
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Format: Paperback
This one takes some focus, but at the end, it really leaves you thinking - about the story, and about yourself. As with all his novels, William Golding leaves the twist to the very end, when everything becomes clear (or, at least, you have your own understanding of the story, even if other readers think differently).

The novel is purely and simply a man's recollection of his life, and his realisation that he has been a horrible person and his actions have had terrible consequences. He thinks back over everything he has done to try and pinpoint the moment when he diverted from the path of innocence and goodness. There is even a memory of being interrogated in a POW camp in which his childhood horrors and imaginings punished him far more than the Gestapo.

I won't give the game away, but it's only at the end that you find out what he did that has caused this soul searching - but it's definitely worth the wait, even though there are parts that seem really opaque when you don't understand why.

This novel really unsettles you and makes you think about how your own life has affected everyone around you. Everyone should read this book.
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