Almost anyone who went to a high school in the United States has probably read Lord of the Flies. But very few have read anything else by William Golding. Michael Dirda reviewed William Golding: The Man Who Wrote 'Lord of the Flies' by John Carey last summer in the magazine, and the review is certainly worth revisiting for anyone who remembers being gripped by the horror of Piggy's fate:
Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, Pincher Martin—these three nightmarish existential visions of man’s inhumanity and suffering, one right after the other, would themselves justify the Nobel Prize that William Golding was awarded in 1983. But there are still other books, arguably just as fine, in particular The Spire (1964), about the moral costs in building a medieval cathedral’s tower, Darkness Visible (1979), which interlaces a story of mystical vocation with a terrorist plot, and the Booker Prize-winning Rites of Passage (1980), about an emotionally and spiritually storm-wracked sea voyage to Australia in the early 19th century. The latter was followed by two sequels, Close Quarters (1987) and Fire Down Below (1989). Parts of this angst-ridden trilogy—collectively titled To the Ends of the Earth—can be strangely comic, especially if you regard the unnamed vessel as a modern ship of fools.
Read the whole thing here.