Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Lord of the Flies

I finished Lord Of The Flies yesterday evening, after starting it the day before. I wanted to take English Literature at A Level, but it clashed with nearly every lesson of maths that I would have had, and since I wanted to do maths at university it pretty much ruled out my taking it. Recently I've started to read (along with the usual sci-fi books that I would normally go for) all of the sorts of books that I never got to read at A Level. Things like Catch-22, Pride & Prejudice, Emma... Well, OK, so basically a couple of 20th century classics and some Jane Austen, but it's a start right?

As I was reading it I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps there were hints that Lord Of The Flies was a little bit sci-fi itself... The vague talk of war, the brief mentions of nuclear weapon use and the manner in which the boys arrive on the island (after being shipped somewhere in some kind of airplane), not to mention the description of how the parachutist arrives on the island. Kind of feels like an alternate 1950s, you know?

It doesn't help that we don't really have much of a clue as to what their home lives are like. Some of them mention that their parents are involved in the war somehow, but none really seem to give any indication as to what it is all about. After consulting the Wiki article, which focuses on the symbolism and interpretation of the story and not the setting, I'm not really any the wiser as to where these boys came from.

Knowing where they came from isn't really essential to the enjoyment that the story gives or the thoughts that it provokes; a few language things aside, it could be a story that is more or less set today. How would a group of school children today cope if they suddenly found themselves marooned on a deserted island without adult supervision?

My predictions:
1). They would be nowhere near as successful as Jack, Roger etc at hunting, primarily because many of them would have childhood obesity problems (more severe than Piggy even).
2). It would take drastically less time for them to descend to the level of "savagery" than it does for the boys in the book.
3). Half of them would wonder why their mobile phones didn't work, whilst the other half would wonder where the reality TV cameras were.
4). The fire that scorches a good portion of the island would be done intentionally by some tough little eleven year olds with ASBOs.

I've got a stack of books on my table to read now, but none of them are probably on the UK "English Lit A Level syllabus". If you have any suggestions for books that most likely are and that I should read, please drop me a line.

I'm currently reading "JPod" by Douglas Coupland.


mattiecore said...

I've never had to read Lord of the Flies, and I'm not really interested in reading it, honestly.
What are ASBOs?

Catch 22 is one of the best novels of the 20th century, in my opinion.

Pride & Prejudice I could take or leave.

Well, I'm in the US, so I don't really know what would constitute A level Lit, but I think you should look into The Mimic Men, by V.S. Naipaul. In order to fully understand the depth of it, you may need to read some about postcolonialism, specifically the idea of diaspora identity.
Also, I'm sure there's some Huxley and Hesse at A level, and if not, then there probably should be.

For more leisurely reading, I highly recommend The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and anything by Tom Robbins (though I recommend starting with either Still Life with Woodpecker or Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates).

zero_zero_one said...

ASBOs are "Anti-social behaviour orders", and are basically given to kids and adults in the UK who commit serious and repeated public disorder offences. Effectively they restrict you from going into certain areas where you have caused chaos and mayhem in the past.

mattiecore said...

Gotcha, thanks