(The Library: Book Review)
Lord Of The Flies - War it seems, is as much a part of humanity as imagination is. We have already observed this concept here on this blog. Nineteen Eighty Four reminded us of the dangers posed by a permanent war effort. Some in power want this. It is like a grand game to them. But war is fought with soldiers, no matter their rank. And humans are at their best when it comes to making war. More on that reflection in the deeper analysis below. Also, the top image is half LOTR - half LOTF - See today's review of The Lord of the Rings for the flipside of this image.
- In the same line of "warning novels" as F451, 1984 and Brave New World
- Short read and to the point. Not much is extra in this novel
- Historical perspective overlayed on top of the main story gives real life attachment
- Nothing to add in the cons section for this one
Published in 1954 by William Golding, this novel, which was his first, has been on the reading list of many students in England and in America. It probably is also part of the curriculum elsewhere but I know for a fact that it is the case in North America. Indeed, it was a must read for me at school back in the days. I did read it because I trusted my teacher. He was an incredibly good teacher. His experience was vast and it showed in the very first class. I am sorry if I must embed this critique of my past teacher in this paragraph but it did make me grow as an individual. When he told us about The Lord of the Flies, he also explained the concepts to us. As usual in his class, everybody was silent and listening. Some teachers are amazing like that; They never need any discipline because what they say captures the attention of everybody. It was the case for that teacher and the novels he tasked us with reading were all excellent.
But the author William Golding was not just a novelist. He also wrote plays and poetry. Since he was knighted in 2008, we should in fact refer to Sir William Golding. I am not sure if he indeed appreciates the extra title. Let us recall that Aldous Huxley was also knighted but just like Francis Bacon, he privately turned down the honour. Sir Golding would go on to receive a Nobel prize for his novel.
Lord of Lies
Was it voluntary by the author to pick a name for the title of his dystopian novel that is so reminiscent of Beelzebub's second name - The Lord of Lies? Or was it a wink to another nearby imaginary lord - The Lord of the Rings? Both were written at the same time. Both had to be influenced by the war that had just ended. Both reflected on the lies that humanity plays to itself endlessly as some try to have peace while other strive to maintain conflicts.
For historical context, let us recall the initial rejection of the manuscript by publishers at Faber & Faber:
"Absurd and uninteresting fantasy about the explosion of the an atomic bomb on the colonies and a group of children who land in the jungle near New Guinea. Rubbish and dull. Pointless."
Has the Lord of Lies done its job and perverted humanity to a point where we can't even tell that the rotting carcasses are not really the severed pig's head on a stake but much more the dark hearts of man?
(illustration above source: https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plans/lesson-1-characterization-lord-flies)
I once reflected on the Fermi Paradox and pondered on the existence of a planet populated with cows and pigs. Imagine that world: Green, lush and full of life. Predators would probably exist but none would be as cruel as the humans who have made it an industry to slaughter those creatures faster and more efficiently. Here is my conclusion: If indeed such a planet exists, does it want to meet the humans? What if we showed them how we have industrialised eating them? What if we showed them how we make shark-fin soup? Do you think those animals would see us a friends or as cruel predators? Indeed, we fall into the latter category. How many races of animal on this planet wished that humans were never here? Of course this rhetorical question cannot be answered by all the species that go extinct every day on Earth - often because of mankind.
Let us hope that humanity can grow and that if there are alien civilisations out there, let's try to be good neighbours to them, not savages that they want to eliminate to preserve themselves. And imagine for a second if the alien civilisation we meet treats us like we treat our pigs.
(illustration above source: https://viequesinsider.com/lord-flies-came-vieques/)
The Inevitability of War
The novel sets the stage for a Paradise Lost: A desert island, with food aplenty, with beaches in the sun and without any major predator. Unfortunately, I have seen too much horror in my life and read too much to see humanity in a good light. There is both light and darkness, as in all things that have a modicum of contrast. This is what informs my view that the events portrayed in the novel are realistic. What I mean is that if indeed kids get stuck on an island like that, I have no doubt that one will kill another. I have no doubt that they will fight, steal, invent prisons and be unjust towards each other.
Being moderate, tolerant and truly wishing for peaceful solutions take life experience. It is necessary to have experienced loss so that you can empathise with others, truly.
So long as this world we live in remains dictated by power plays on The Grand Chessboard, I will put my bet on Beelzebub's side! Not that I want him to win but he obviously is in control of our lives. He dictates our lies which perverse our lives and just like in The Lord of the Rings, his end goal is in the Darkness to bind all of us.
The moral of the story: Don't vote for military budget increases. Pressure your elected officials, wherever you are, to moderate military expenditure. Don't get in useless conflicts with others. Stop to believe that you have moral superiority. Seek common ground and seek cooperation with others.
If humanity learns from its past mistakes and if people get learned by reading such excellent books as the ones I recommend here on this blog, then we do stand a chance. We will make this Brave New World something for the entire galaxy to look up to.
Thanks for reading!