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The role of darkness in lord of the flies a novel by william golding

The ludicrously phony sea captain who fronted the television advert of the day that featured. He was, for me, one of the great postwar English novelists — the guy who had written, among others, Pincher Martin, Free Fall, the Spire and the Inheritors. He took risks with form. He never tried to write the same book over twice and all his stories had a weird unsettling power that had held me captive since I first started reading him as a schoolboy.

I took the train to Cornwall one summer day. He was waiting for me as I came down the platform. I could see what that editor had meant by 'Captain Birdseye' - although there was nothing in the least phony about the nautical nature of his appearance. His beard, his watchful eyes and his no nonsense walk all suggested a schooner captain who had just got in from the South China Sea after some pretty hard sailing.

He led me to an elderly Jaguar that looked as if its bodywork had been ignored for more pressing intellectual concerns. We went straight through to the kitchen. On the wall was a note in charmingly childish handwriting, congratulating Grandpa on his Nobel prize.

I congratulated him too. For my one book! From his point of view, English history was behind everything that happens in the apparently remote and paradisaical location in which Ralph, Jack and Piggy work through their public and private animosities. He wanted, he said, to explore the evolution of society, from chaos to collective action, and show the origins of the divisions that civilised societies in order to further collective good by the executive action of the few.

He was about nothing less than the important task of showing how a slowly nurtured democracy can collapse in the face of the lust for power, how religious instincts can be perverted into becoming a cloak for brutality and how the competition for scarce resources can betray humans into revealing their fundamentally animal nature in the space of a few short months. He had been in the war. He had seen some terrible things. He was particularly interesting about the conch — the shell that becomes a symbol, for the boys on the island, of fairness and democracy.

It the role of darkness in lord of the flies a novel by william golding a bit like having Stephenson take you on a guided tour of the interior of the Rocket or Watson and Crick taking you by the hand and waltzing, down the complex spirals of the double helix.

He was — quite literally — showing me how he did it and I will always be grateful to him for that privilege. Then he went to bed and I followed him up. By the time I got to the landing he had disappeared and I had to listen at all four closed doors for sounds of human breathing. Luckily — after much thought — I got the right door. We worked on the following morning and then I went back to London to write a first draft.

The first act took nearly three months. There is not much dialogue in the book and my job was to make the tensions of the internal narrative which shifts seamlessly between characters so that, at many points, you get the impression that the island itself is narrating the tale dramatically explicit.

The rituals of language, its choric repetitions, echoes and half echoes are what interest me about writing for the stage. Language — in the theatre — should never be about a simple exchange of information — and to get the balance between forward narrative, character development and the strong sense of impending doom that hangs over the novel from that first description of the cruel sun in the endless sky — was not easy.

I sent Bill the first act and he wrote back almost immediately. I have known some pretty mediocre novelists be very unpleasant indeed to theatre or TV authors trying to do just that. I think I was so stunned by his generosity — and so scared that I was now going to screw it up that it took me another three months to get started on the remaining two acts. I had always thought it should be three acts — and that the illusion of the unities should, as far as possible, be preserved.

There are times when you have to fade down and come back to another point in the action but I wanted the narrative of the piece to unfold in a way that would not allow the audience the distraction of wandering away from these terrible events. Lord of the Flies is not and should not be presented as an easy story. And getting it to the point where I thought it was ready to show to Bill took nearly a year. To my surprise he remained — the role of darkness in lord of the flies a novel by william golding far as I knew anyway — loyal and supportive throughout.

And — when the thing was done we agreed to try it out at the preparatory school that all my three sons attended. Jack — my middle boy — was chosen to play Simon.

Compare the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

When it got to the point where Simon climbs the mountain and has his epileptic fit I heard Bill next to me muttering — "Awful! He went backstage afterwards and said to the boys, "Did you like being little savages?

Bill said my version would do just fine as far he was concerned. We began the long process of trying to get it staged and in the end it was put on at the RSC, with Elijah Moshinsky directing. I think I had had at least half a bottle of Australian at the time. He looked at me - and suddenly he looked so like my own father it took my breath away.

I remember when I got knighted I went into my favourite restaurant in town and the head waiter bowed so low I could see the crease in his buttocks. Some kind of first I suppose.

William Golding: A frighteningly honest writer

But it sums up fame. When I wrote Lord of the Flies — I had no idea it would even get published. Bringing it to the stage, and working so closely with its author, had taught me that that was true of the man who wrote it as well.