Will the Lord Of The Flies author William Golding now be remembered as a would-be rapist, asks the Guardian.
Golding, who won the Nobel Prize in 1983, three years after bagging the Booker for Rites Of Passage, admitted trying to rape a 15-year-old schoolgirl when he was an 18-year-old student at Oxford, according to a forthcoming biography by John Carey.
The schoolgirl put up a fierce resistance. But they had sex two years later, according to Golding, who nevertheless called her “depraved by nature” and “sexy as an ape” in his unpublished memoir, Men, Women & Now. He wrote it for Ann, his wife of 50 years, to explain his “monstrous” character.
He also confessed how, later as a schoolteacher, he got schoolboys to fight among themselves. His first and most famous novel, Lord Of The Flies, is about a group of schoolboys who turn savages when marooned on an island after a plane crash.
Carey, a literary critic and an emeritus professor of English literature at Oxford, had access to the previously unseen archive of Golding, who died in 1993, aged 81. It comprises three unpublished novels, two autobiographical works and a journal of two million words written over 20 years, says the Sunday Times.
Golding, who studied natural science before switching to English literature at Oxford, admitted he used “a certain measure of experimental science” as a schoolteacher to see what happened when boys were given more liberty. “I gave them more and my eyes came out like organ stops as I watched what was happening.”
Once he took a group of schoolboys on a field trip near Salisbury and got them to form two gangs – one to attack a neolithic enclosure and the other to defend it.
The schoolboys in Lord Of The Flies also break up into two warring groups.
Carey’s biography throws new light on the novel which was published after many publishers rejected it, says the Sunday Times. It adds:
It reveals how its editor altered it to exclude much material on the nuclear bomb and changed the character of Simon, one of the British schoolboys marooned on an island after a plane crash, from being too explicitly Christlike.
However, it is Golding’s attitude to women in his unpublished Men, Women & Now, which will cause most surprise in literary circles.
He had met Dora when both were taking music lessons in Marlborough, Wiltshire, when he was about 16 and she was 13, but he tried to rape her two years later when he was home during his first year at Oxford.
Golding writes that they went for a walk to the common and he “felt sure she wanted heavy sex, as this was visibly written on her pert, ripe and desirable mouth”.
Soon they were “wrestling like enemies” as he “tried unhandily to rape her”. But she resisted and Golding, all those years later, wrote that “he had made such a bad hand at rape” before shaking her and shouting “I’m not going to hurt you”. Dora ran off.
After a gap of two years, they met again and consummated their relationship. Golding records her unromantic question, when she asked: “Should I have all that rammed up my guts?”
Golding tells how Dora persuaded his father, also a school-teacher, to spy on the two of them having sex in the open air. She suggested he take his binoculars with him on two specific days to a playing field where they would be. However, she knew that his other son Joseph, William’s older brother, would also be there with his girlfriend having sex.
“It was Dora’s revenge,” writes Carey, the Sunday Times’ chief reviewer. “She wanted to show him that his two sons were not exemplary.”
Carey is convinced that Golding was ashamed about his relationship with Dora, even though in Men, Women & Now he wrote that she was “depraved by nature” and he imagines her at 13 “beginning to burn” and says that at 14 she was “already sexy as an ape”.
Carey says that Golding “was aware of and repelled by the cruelty in himself and was given to saying that, had he been born in Hitler’s Germany, he would have been a Nazi. Dora seems to have played her part in this self-knowledge”.
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