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on 29 May 2014
William Golding sets these three interlinked stories in the village of Stilbourne (pun intended), a bus ride away from the town of Barchester, near Omnium. Moreover, a girl for whom protagonist Oliver has an adolescent yearning is called Imogen Grantley, so we are immediately in the Trollope country of the Barchester Chronicles and the Palliser novels. WG establishes this artificial literary context, I reckon, to distance his work from any suggestion of autobiography, though it is suffused with what feel like intensely personal memories. You get three sections for your money, each showing Oliver at a different time of his life, and Stilbourne at a different stage of its evolution. The funniest is the account of a dreadful amateur musical theatre production, superintended by a visiting gay director who drunkenly tries to pull our hero without quite managing to be honest, which few of the characters are. There's pathos here too, though - most of the people to whom Oliver is closest have stunted, emotionally deprived or abused lives - and the "crystal pyramid" of the social order to which they all pay obeisance is unrelenting in its demands. The quality of the writing is superb throughout, especially at the end as a middle-aged Oliver admits to himself an important truth he has long denied and motors away from Stilbourne for the final time, sadder but wiser. We are too.
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on 23 December 2000
The fact that for me Golding can do no wrong should only serve to show how deeply his prose has affected me. The Pyramid is no exception.
Divided roughly into three novellas that revolve around the central narrator, The Pyramid carries with it a strong sense of autobiography. I'm not suggesting this rather intense view of personal relationships is a reflecton of Golding's own life. However, it's written with such feeling and persuasiveness that it makes you wonder.
To me, Golding's style approaches the sublime. In the novel, the dynamics between the description and the sparse dialogue are undeniably moving.
The themes of sexuality and social class come up again as they often do in Golding's writing. Here we see it concentrated in the personal relationships within this community - a small town.
Golding's forte is the portrayal of the microcosm, and here he portrays this civilization in small with breathtaking eloquence.
Golding's portrayal of sexuality and desire in this book I find particularly interesting. It's treatment is visceral and unambiguous. Not to say it lacks subtlety. Even in the absence of any blatant romanticism, we still find in its disruption a profound sense of loss.
To be honest I'd recommend any of Golding's books, but The Pyramid has essential place among his novels. Here we see Golding perhaps at his most heartfelt.
There is definately a much more personal aspect here than in most of his other works, something I find particularly appealing. This appeal is what sets this novel apart fron Golding's other works - makes it so important - as well as what makes it so readily accessable.
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on 5 April 2014
The story of a young boy infatuated with sex ..growing up in a quintessentially English village..replete with local gossip and judgemental inhabitants. The story is based on the character weaving his way through the institutional values of the time.
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on 19 July 2003
The Pyramid is a book of things that don't happen, of a stasis in the central character Oliver which becomes the tragedy of the novel. The fictional town, 'Stilbourne', is a microcosm for Goldings vision of English society between the great wars. He uses the geography of the village brilliantly to illustrate the vacuous class concerns of it's inhabitants. Oliver is free in the "erotic woods" to fool around with the lower class Evie, but when coming back into town he can feel the "radii of influences" that make it wrong.
Oliver is the lower middle class social climber for who the system works. As our centre of consciousness in the novel, we expect him to react in some way against the oppressive system, "the crystal pyramid" over stilbourne that he displays a perfunctory understanding of throughout. yet he is impotent, static, and does nothing. Golding goes as far as using metafictional devices in the pub scene with De Tracy, who says, "Just making a point. To the perceptive". The perceptive here is the reader, who must separate their sympathies from oliver to understand Golding's intention.
The way Golding writes here is very interesting, and he demands a close reader. While oliver drives away at the end, and "concentrated resolutely on my driving", Golding has opened up the bigger picture to the reader with typical skill.
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on 27 September 2014
I had just read Golding's Sea Trilogy - a truly great read which captivated me until the final page. The theme of being confined within a World of ones own had been once again (after Lord of the Flies) masterfully dealt with by the author. I bought the Pyramid with great anticipation but found I could barely finish it. It is disjointed and difficult to follow; the subject matter is grim and unedifying,
, the characters wholly unattractive. The book has the feel of autobiography - too close to an uninspiring reality to matter.
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on 3 August 2014
Hated this novel, boring and unrealistic. Didn't empathise with any of the characters.
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