Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding


A week or so before Winter Break my younger daughter, Madeleine, asked me if I would be willing to be her partner in an assignment for her English class. Basically, she needed to find an adult who would agree to read a book with her and journal their reactions to the book. I was more than simply willing... I was quivering with excitement! The book she chose was Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I was happy about this choice as I had read it in High School and didn't remember much about it and I'm always saying I want to read more classics and never do it. So it was a great choice. It turned out to be a great choice in more ways than one. It is an absolutely fascinating book and one that lends itself quite well to analysis.

On the surface Lord of the Flies is the story of a group of boys, ages 5-13, who are stranded on a deserted island during WWII. The novel tells the story of how the boys navigate the island, find food, shelter and try to keep a fire going in order to be rescued all while negotiating their relationships with each other. But it is so much more than that. It is essentially a psychological and sociological study of human behavior. It explores the human psyche and what happens to human behavior when societal conventions and authority figures are absent. Lord of the Flies exposes the most basic elements of human psychology from survival to power struggles to the man's ultimate primitive nature. Golding is a master writer and his insights into civilization and humanity are fascinating and thought-provoking.

I am so glad that I had an opportunity to reread Lord of the Flies. This is exactly the kind of classic novel I want to read. One thing that keeps me from reading more classics is that I don't know which ones will be enjoyable to a modern day reader and which ones will not. Some books that are considered to be "classics" are extremely dry, difficult to read and full of inaccessible language. But there are accessible classics out there. And Lord of the Flies is one of them. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read the classics and especially to anyone in a book club. This book is just screaming to be analyzed and discussed.


I would give Lord of the Flies 5 stars - I loved it!

How about you? Have you read any classics that you would recommend?

21 comments:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

My son will be reading this book this year also. I read it years ago with another kid. Perhaps I'll read with him this time.

Sandy said...

I remember Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm and have thought of rereading them. Especially 1984 which I believe was written BEFORE 1949 and was discovered among Orwell's papers when he died. I'd like to be reminded of what his 'predictions' were and to see how close he came on some. I'd also reread The Diary of Anne Frank. I remember reading that several times at 10-12. Might have set the tone for the one genre of books I enjoy now.

I think I read LOTF in the 9th grade and would reread that, too.

Quasi Serendipita said...

Lord of The Flies is an old favourite of mine. My absolute favourite classic has to be Pride and Prejudice though!

Mommakin said...

Like so many others, I also read this in HS (Jr. High?) and haven't read it since. It is referenced and satirized so often that I feel like I'm still familiar, but I bet a revisit to the original would yield details and nuances I've long forgotten (or never got in the first place, as a young reader). I'd be interested to hear how Madeleine's experience compared to yours...

I just finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog and it has left me with a hankering to reread Anna Karenina. Wait - is Russian literature in general a good choice for someone in the throes of SAD?

Anita said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it and read it again. I too read it in HS or JH.
This year the girls have a wonderful list of books in English, I may pick up one and read along with them. Some of the titles are, The Scarlett Letter, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird.......

MrsM said...

I LOVE classic books-I recommend all of them! My top ten are Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Pride and Prejudice, 1984, Don Quixote, Jane Eyre, The Little Prince, The Republic (Plato), and The Grapes of Wrath. Oh! Also The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oh and Fahrenheit 451. And of course the complete works of Shakespeare. If you want poetry I'd go with Poe and Dickinson and the Brownings. There are so many awesome books to choose from when going through classics!

Karen said...

I have been intending to read Lord of the Flies for five years...ever since Lost started. I'm definitely going to bump it up on my list.

Marie said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I read it in school and it has really stayed with me over the years. :-)

allycupe said...

Thanks for coming by my blog on my SITS day and commenting, I really appreciate all the comment love!
I just reread Sense and Sensibility and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Debbie said...

What a fun assignment!
You know, more and more I think you and I could be great friends in real life:)

Trooper Thorn said...

It's great when a "classic" holds up over time. You are right that some are stale and dated. I still find "Catcher in the Rye" is relevant.

Ronnica said...

What a neat excitement! Though I know that it'd be hard for some children, I think it's important for them to see an adult reading.

Oh, and I'm glad it was over this book. I had recently decided I want to re-read it, but then forgot which book I had said that about!

Gamma Sharon said...

I think that is great that your daughter came to you to participate. What a wonderful assignment for you and her... something she and you will remember forever!

MissKris said...

I have loved Edna Ferber's books and Pearl S Buck's since I was a young girl. And Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" has been read by me at least 10 times since I first read it around the age of 12. "Lord of the Flies" has to be another all-time favorite. I think I've read it 3 times. It has so much food for thought in it...how close society is to the brink of chaos, no matter what age.

MissKris said...

Oh, and Steinbeck's "East of Eden"...WONDERFUL book! I've read that several times, too.

Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

I love all of your reviews! I am going to have to save them for future book shopping trips :)

Dee Andrews said...

I was just thinking of this book the other day and wondering if my 11-year-old was ready for it. It's been years since I've read it but perhaps will encourage her to read it with me. She loves the TV show Survivor, wonder what she'll think of non-reality TV survivor!

Emily said...

I remember reading (and loving!) this book when I was a teenager, and it's definitely one of the titles I'd be interested to revisit as an adult.

Jen said...

This is one of my absolute favorite books from high school! I remember it being one of the only books I really just devoured in the tenth grade. The whole new society and the social implications it brings up are some of the ideas that turned me on to writers like George Orwell. One of the books I read again not too long ago is Anthem by Ayn Rand. Kind of amazing. Thanks for this post!

mariahsmile said...

One of my favorite classics is FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury! I love Agatha Christie Mysteries but recently I've been reading a lot of Charlaine Harris books. Its a good idea though to start reading more of the classics.

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