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Reading the Classics: If You Were Stranded on a Desert Island…

No. It’s not the classic question about which book you might choose if you were stranded on a desert island. It’s a question of how you might behave if you were stranded on a desert island. It’s a question that William Golding asks in his classic 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. It’s a story about a group of boys during a fictitious nuclear war that have crash-landed on an island as they are being evacuated from England. Golding makes sure that no adults survive the crash so that only these boys are faced with the questions…how will you survive? What will become of society? You stranded boys have been educated in a civilized British culture. How will you make this work? Is it in the nature of Humans to become civilized when faced with a possible end of society? Or will Humans revert to a primitive nature? Will the educated and cultured side of humanity prevail to work for the collective good of the survivors…to lead them to continue civilization in an ordered and harmonious fashion?  Or will the dark side of human nature compel the individual survivors to worry only about themselves? Will reason and rationality rule? Or will chaos and immorality ensue? Obviously it’s a loaded question. As you can probably imagine, Golding populates the island with personalities that will answer these questions from different sides of the issues. But it is definitely thought-provoking.

Again, as has been my current trend, I chose to enjoy this book through the audio version of the book via the library’s One Click Digital platform.  This version is read by the author. Mr. Golding is a very deliberate reader and his reading may have been a bit too deliberate in some scenes for my taste, e.g. the action scenes. But I was fine with that. I enjoy an author’s reading of his or her own material. After all, Golding obviously knew what points he wanted to make when he wrote the book. So his own reading of the book should be free from any unintended bias, I should think. That being said, he does make a point in the afterword to say that his intent is only to pose questions for the reader, NOT to answer them.

I should see if either of the two feature film versions of the book is as good! The 1963 version looks very intriguing from the cover art. And the 1990 version looks like it could be a suitable retelling as well.

-Dan Winsky, Acquisitions


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