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May 2020 News Round-up

William Golding in the news…

The Guardian published an extract from Rutger Bregman’s new book Humankind: ‘The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months’. Bregman described a lovely story of ‘friendship and loyalty’ – the boys worked together to support each other on the island, ‘Ata. However, to use this story as a counterpoint to Golding’s novel is at best flawed; Lord of the Flies is an allegory, and not a straightforward tale of shipwreck and survival. There were also regrettably some errors in the piece – Golding’s daughter wrote to the newspaper to request a correction. In response to the extract, Vittorio Bufacchi argued in The Conversation that ‘we cannot and should not draw any conclusions about human nature from one case study’. On our own website, we featured a piece by Terrell Carver who suggested that ‘the reality that the boys inhabit in the novel is not some generically human and timeless realm of nature’. Bregman’s more hopeful history is certainly to be welcomed in these times of such tragedy and confusion. But, in truth, Bregman’s article has little to do with Lord of the Flies, and he relies on a superficial reading of the book. Andrew Whalen, in Newsweek, rightfully acknowledged the optimism in Golding’s story.

Elsewhere, in the Telegraph, Simon Heffer urged his readers to watch Oliver Rudland’s opera of Golding’s Pincher Martin, available on YouTube, and describes it as ‘a beautifully crafted, powerful and mature piece, and the balance the composer achieves between orchestra and singers is nothing short of perfect’.

Jennifer Finney Boylan compared events in Lord of the Flies to the current political situation in America in The New York Times.