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Rites of Passage: With an introduction by Robert McCrum Paperback – 7 Nov 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571298540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571298549
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Rites of Passage, from William Golding - the author of Lord of the Flies - the Booker Prize-winning novel and first instalment from the Sea Trilogy.

About the Author

William Golding (1911-1993) was a Booker and Nobel Prize-winning author, best known for his first novel, Lord of the Flies, published originally in 1954 and adapted for film in 1963. His other works include The Inheritors (1955), Pincher Martin (1956), The Spire (1964), Rites of Passage (1980), The Double Tongue (published posthumously in 1995) a now rare volume, Poems (1934) and the essay collections The Hot Gates and A Moving Target.

Golding was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford. Before his writing career, Golding was a schoolmaster. He was also a keen actor, musician and small-boat sailor.

In 2008, The Times ranked Golding third on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 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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Format: Paperback
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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The novel starts promisingly with a vivid description of the cramped conditions and pervading stink below decks in an early 19thC sailing ship. However, once the ship sets sail we hear far more about the interaction of the passengers and officers and very little about what it actually might have felt like to sail across the world at that time. Golding is concerned mostly with social issues of class distinction and protocol, and descriptions of sea, weather and ocean life come a distant second. The pace picks up a little when parson Colley's confessional letter takes over from Edmund Talbot's repetitive and narrow minded journal, but too much of the book is spent in the doldrums and too many characters have too little time to fix themselves in the memory.
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Format: Paperback
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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