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William Golding

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William Golding


William Gerald Golding, b. Cornwall, Sept. 19, 1911 [d. 1993], is a prominent English novelist, essayist and poet. He was awarded the Booker Mc Connel Prize, the greatest British Literature Prize, as well as the Nobel Prize for Literature. Golding's often allegorical fiction makes broad use of allusions to classical literature, mythology, and Christian symbolism. Although no distinct thread unites his novels and his technique varies, Golding deals principally with evil and emerges with what has been characterized as a kind of dark optimism.

Golding was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he studied English literature and philosophy. After he graduated, he worked as an actor, a lecturer, a small craft sailor, a musician and finally a school master. He joined the Royal Navy in 1940, and saw action against battleships, submarines and aircraft. He was present at the sinking of the Bismarck and finished the war as a Lieutenant in command of a rocket ship.

After the war he returned to Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury and was there when his first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954. He gave up teaching in 1961, and went on to write twelve more novels, including The Inheritors, Pincher Martin, and The Spire. In addition to his novels, he has published a play, The Brass Butterfly (1958); a book of verse, Poems (1934); and the essay collections The Hot Gates (1965) and A Moving Target (1982).

Golding's first novel, Lord of the Flies (1954; film, 1963), introduced one of the recurrent themes of his fiction--the conflict between humanity's innate barbarism and the civilizing influence of reason. The Inheritors (1955) reaches into prehistory, advancing the thesis that humankind's evolutionary ancestors, "the fire-builders," triumphed over a gentler race as much by violence and deceit as by natural superiority. In Pincher Martin (1956) and Free Fall (1959), Golding explores fundamental problems of existence, such as survival and human freedom, using dreamlike narratives and flashbacks. The Spire (1964) is an allegory concerning the hero's obsessive determination to build a great cathedral spire regardless of the consequences. Golding's later novels have not won the praise his earlier works achieved. They include Darkness Visible (1979) and the historical trilogy Rites of Passage (1981), Close Quarters (1987), and Fire Down Below (1989).

He won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage in 1980, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. At this time he moved from the Wiltshire village where he had lived for half a century, to a fine house near Truro in Cornwall.

He was knighted in 1988, and enjoyed the title that was bestowed on him. He died at his home in the summer of 1993, leaving a draft of a novel, The Double Tongue. The book was published posthumously.

 


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