An insight into the private obsessions and insecurities of the author of Lord of the Flies. With contributions from his daughter and son and bestselling author Stephen King.
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A CONCH IS BLOWN
" 'I got this to say, you're acting like a crowd of kids.'
"The booing rose and died again
"as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell.
" 'Which is better, to be a pack of painted savages like you are
" 'or to be sensible like Ralph is?'
"A great clamour arose among the savages. Piggy shouted again,
" 'Which is better, to have rules and agree or to hunt and kill?' "
Kill the pig! Slit her throat!
Bash her in!
"At last, the words of the chant floated up to them
"across the bowl of blackened wood and ashes.
" 'Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill her blood.' "
Kill the pig!
I find it very difficult to talk here now
because I'm watching the sea all the time.
The sea always makes me watch it all the time.
I've spent hours and hours, not just on the sea
but just watching wave after wave come in.
If it's an image of anything,
I think it's...
an image of our unconscious,
the unconscious of our own minds
or you could say, I suppose you could put it the other way round
and that is that we have a sea in us.
After all, we are sea creatures
that learnt to walk on the land, are we not?
And perhaps one way and another, we go back to it.
Every night when we dream,
we go back into that kind of depth
and that kind of beauty
and monstrosity, and, um...
So, really, the sea is not a single image,
it can really image almost anything that the human mind can discover.
He died in this house.
He died, in fact, in what was then my brother's room, David's room.
I'm afraid he had got rather drunk.
And we think he'd got up in the middle of the night
and sat on...
a sofa, we know he was sitting on the sofa,
and the sofa faces one of these great big windows
that we have here
and it faces east.
And it was midsummer.
It was the 19th of June 1993.
And I think he must have seen the sun coming up
behind the trees there.
And ironically, although this is Cornwall
where he was an old man...
..the trees there are beech trees,
as there were in Savernake Forest near Marlborough
where he lived as a child.
And so, in a curious way,
in his death, I think you could see him
as coming around full circle.
"And then quite suddenly,
"he knew he was not alone.
"It was not that he saw or heard a presence.
"He felt it, like the warmth of a fire at his back,
"powerful and gentle at the same time.
"And so immediate was the pressure of that personality
"it might have been in his very spine.
"He bent his head in terror,
"He allowed the presence to do what it would.
" 'I am here,' the presence seemed to say."
" 'Do nothing, we are here.' "
He was very strange, I think, in his relationship with reality.
Very early on, he was taken out to Savernake Forest
near Marlborough by his parents
and they were playing around, he was little,
and they pretended to hide behind a tree
at the end of the walk, and he suddenly found himself alone
and looked up,
and glaring at him over the brushwood
was a huge stag
which he knew, he says,
he knew wasn't a real stag,
was something else, something other.
Right to the end of his life,
he believed in the other.
William Golding emerged as a writer in the 1950s
with a series of astonishingly original novels.
Their subjects include a group of schoolboys
stranded on a tropical island,
the final days of Neanderthal man,
a sailor marooned on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic,
a talented artist consumed by his own ruthless ambition
and the building of a spire on a mediaeval cathedral.
But they are all expressions of a unique and powerful imagination.
"Lok looked away over the river to forget his hunger.
"He flared his nostrils
"and immediately was rewarded with a whole mixture of smells
"for the mist from the fall magnified any smell incredibly,
as rain will deepen and distinguish the colours of a field of flowers.
"There were the smells of the people too, individual,
"but each engaged to the smell of the muddy path where they had been."
Golding couldn't be alone at night, even with the light on.
He says he was terrified, would have to rush upstairs
and lie beside Ann and hear her breathing
and know that it was all right.
If he went into a room at night,
he said he had to throw the door open very loudly
so that anything that was inside
would be warned and go away.
"But before I could close the door,
"the incorrigible schoolmaster in him had called me back.
"I tell you something which may be of value.
"I believe it to be true and powerful - therefore dangerous.
"If you want something enough, you can always get it,
"provided you are willing to make the appropriate sacrifice,
"But what you get is never quite what you thought
"and sooner or later, the sacrifice is always regretted."
SCHOOL BELL RINGS
Golding went on to win the Nobel Prize
but when his first novel was published in 1954,
he was already 43 years old
and working as a teacher
at Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury.
-Good morning, sir.
Right, sit down, please.
Now, how far have we got?
-Act Two, Scene One, sir.
-Right, lend me a book, somebody.
'He was a scruff and he was known as Scruff.'
Right, come up and show us what you can do.
'And in the Junior Six, I was a member of the Bishop's Players'
and he produced a play
and I was one of those who was one of his actors.
By the time I had him,
Lord of the Flies had just been published.
I think earlier in his career in the school,
he may have had some input and done something,
but I think by the time he first published that,
'I think he then had lost all interest in teaching.'
My recollections are that
he gave you an exercise book and told you to write
and he did his own thing.
Or he told you to read a chapter and he did his own thing.
Now, our first focus today
is on the work you've done on the island
and I've looked at your maps.
A quick reminder, somebody, when do the boys realise it's an island
-though they've sussed it out? Nick?
-When they go to the top
of the mountain, the three of them,
-and they look around and it's, like, boat-shaped.
The coral was scribbled in the sea as though a giant had bent down
to reproduce the shape of the island in a flowing chalk line
but tired before he had finished.
WILLIAM GOLDING: I've always been puzzled
and I am still at this moment, I am in a state of confusion
between the imaginative world and the real world.
It is perfectly true to say that I have, sometimes in my life,
found that the imaginative world
had pushed the real world right out of the way,
was literally more real.
"The boy with fair hair
"lowered himself down the last few feet of rock
"and began to pick his way towards the lagoon.
"And though he had taken off his school sweater
"and trailed it now from one hand,
"his grey shirt stuck to him
"and his hair was plastered to his forehead.
"He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks
"when a bird, a vision of red and yellow,
"flashed upwards with a witch-like cry.
"The fair boy stopped,
"and jerked his stockings with an automatic gesture
"that made the jungle seem for a moment like the Home Counties."
We were living in a council flat at the time
in a converted Victorian house, my wife and I,
and we'd just put the children to bed
and pretty exhausting it had proved to be.
And I'd been reading - well, we'd both been reading to them offhand,
Cannibal Island, Treasure Island, Coral Island,
anybody's island, Pirate Island, islands, islands,
islands incorporated, really.
And I said to her, "Wouldn't it be a good idea
"to write a book about what actually would happen to children
"if they found themselves alone on an island?"
And my wife said, "That's a first-class idea, you write it."
"The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee.
"The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.
"Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt,
"travelled through the air sideways from the rock,
"turning over as he went.
"The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest.
"Piggy fell 40 feet
"and landed on his back across that square red rock in the sea.
"His head opened and stuff came out and turned red.
"Piggy's arms and legs twitched a bit,
"like a pig's after it has been killed.
"Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh,
"the water boiled white and pink over the rock,
"and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone."
Is this how it was when you were a boy?
Much the same sort of houses?
The houses were the same...
Golding grew up in Marlborough,
an old market town in the middle of rural Wiltshire.
And you used to sleep in that room?
When I was a very small boy, I slept in there.
I was sent to bed early in the evenings,
the way nice children were in those days. But the nasty children,
the ruffian sort with shirts sticking out of their trousers and that,
used to play around here on the green.
Did you ever feel like escaping and joining the ruffians
or did you know your place?
I knew my place.
I'm not really adventurous, socially.
I knew I was one of us and they were one of them,
and the terrible thing was
that "us" didn't really extend any further than the house
so really, we had no place.
MUSIC: "SOUTH BANK SHOW" THEME
It took a bit to persuade him to do it, and it was very difficult
because I came to him at a time
when he'd just been through a big depression, savage depression
which I knew only a little about.
I wasn't aware of its size when I met him.
I went down to the house near Salisbury
and he couldn't have been more charming
and Ann, his wife, was wonderful.
And we got colossally drunk,
which seemed to be part of what he wanted to do. I didn't mind either.
And then, those were the days,
he drove me back to Salisbury, drunk as a skunk.
'He's always been a rather strange writer, nothing to do
'with the contemporary cliques and claques of English fiction,'
almost a hermit scholar looking for meanings, telling his stories,
'but full of sharp wit and social observation when he needed it.'
I think he saw himself as a scholar.
As you know, he'd been a school teacher, he had a real interest
in ancient civilisations, particularly Greek and Roman.
And the novels are rifted with scholarship.
Golding and his older brother, Jose,
were both pupils at the local grammar school,
where their father, Alec, was one of the teachers.
His father was a scientist - brilliant scientist, actually,
though he never got beyond being the science master at Marlborough.
And he was an atheist
and indeed, brought Golding up rather strictly as an atheist.
And on the other hand, there was the mother,
who believed in all sorts of spooks and ghosts.
Golding was very aware that his father was lower middle-class
and he was aware of it particularly because in Marlborough,
at one end of the street was Marlborough College,
one of the great public schools of England.
At the other end was Marlborough Grammar School
where his father taught and Golding attended.
And Golding resented it greatly.
He says how he was filled with envy and hatred.
He never got over it.
It's one of the things his dreams are full of.
"December the 13th, 1971.
"This dream takes place for the most part
"in the dining room of 29 The Green, Marlborough.
"Jose is there, but he is not Jose.
"For one thing, he is about a foot taller than me
"and I believe him to be infinitely stronger.
"He has got hold of a baby
"and he is laughing at it, at me, at everything.
"He also has a knife.
"He pulls the baby out until its arms are stretched
"and fixed in the attitude of crucifixion.
"He begins to work on the hands and fingers,
"dissecting them into patterns while the baby wails and cries.
"I am terrified and revolted.
"Either I can do nothing or I am too frightened to do anything."
He had a great capacity for seeing wickedness in himself
and, of course, drawing on that wickedness.
I think he used the consciousness of what he might have done
to write his books.
And perhaps, in that way,
he felt he was keeping this other person in its cage.
In 1930, at the age of 19,
Golding went up to Brasenose College, Oxford
where he was the only grammar school boy in his year.
He went along to the University Appointments Committee,
you go to that in your last year
and they tell you where your career may lie.
And the notes of the chap interviewing him
say that he is not top drawer, NTD,
and not quite a gentleman,
and would be all right for a day school but not a public school.
So that was their estimate of him
and he knew that that's how he was regarded
by fellow students, not only by the dons.
"She came down the stairs and stood
"and there was nothing to do but look,
"nothing needing to be said.
"She took a scarf, her father's, I think, and we went out together.
"We went to a blackened-out pub and sat hand in hand,
"both stunned by this overwhelming sense of recognition.
"We kissed then and there in public
"without shame or bravado,
"because although people stood within a yard of us,
"we were alone.
"And we both recognised, without a moment's doubt,
"that we should never let each other go."
He went to Maidstone for his first teaching job,
Maidstone Grammar School.
And there he met Ann, his wife.
They met in a left book club meeting in London.
He always says, you know,
"Do tell me absolutely what you think about it."
And I do.
And then I get into fierce trouble for saying something critical.
And he goes away and he mutters and he looks it over
and finally he does, most often, agree.
The Goldings were married in 1939
and their son, David, was born the following year.
I think he was a very good father in things
because he didn't do the wrong things.
I mean, he didn't bully you.
Although he did think he had bullied me at a certain time
when I was very young,
that he tried to sort of make a man of me or something
when I was a bit young to be made a man of, I thought.
I mean, he took me sailing and taught me how to sail and so on.
I shared his feeling that sailing was a very important thing.
When he was a student at Oxford,
David had a major mental breakdown
from which he has never fully recovered.
I think I've always had some sort of biochemical problem.
When my mother was carrying me in her womb,
she had German measles.
That probably affected me.
I mean, she did say later that...
in these days, probably I would have had an abortion
if that had happened,
and I'm glad that she didn't.
-So am I.
-Thank you! Thank you.
Three months after David was born,
Golding joined the Navy, and saw active service throughout the war.
"I came up out of my cabin at about 0800
"when Walcheren and Westkapelle light were in sight.
"The rest of the assault was proceeding in,
"about a mile on my starboard bow,
"with the landing craft stretching astern.
"The first shell made my heart beat quickly
"and I tried to stop my teeth chattering,
"because now I knew it wasn't going to be an easy assault.
"The radar began to show up assault craft and Westkapelle
"and finally I decided to cut loose and run in.
"Odd shells were dropping here and there.
"I was feeling unhappy but fairly fatalistic.
"I was worried about the obvious balls-up the rockets were making."
In 1944, Golding captained a rocket ship
during one of the bloodiest operations of the entire war,
the assault on the Dutch island of Walcheren.
The island was heavily defended
because it controlled access to the major port of Antwerp.
'This attack was one of the grimmest of the whole war.
'Heavy enemy shelling met the landing craft, and many were lost.
'Our Typhoons dived on the Hun
'and blasted him with rockets.
'Rocket-firing ships poured murderous fire in defenders' positions
'while our smoke ships laid a covering screen.'
When the bombardment began,
Golding realised that the other Allied ships had made a mistake
and their rockets were exploding amongst their own troops.
A couple of ships were sunk.
Also the coast wasn't bombarded, except by Dad,
who continued on in a sort of, rather Nelsonic way.
Dad managed to drop the rockets
just in advance of the marines.
They were the first people ashore.
It was rather tragic because
Dad had been informed that the Germans had evacuated the civilians
and, in fact, they hadn't evacuated the civilians.
So a lot of civilians got killed.
That must have haunted Dad, I think.
He never forgot that.
He never forgot the people who'd been killed
and he never forgot the fact that he'd actually killed civilians too,
killed the nice Dutch people, who hadn't done any harm to anyone.
At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning,
we will remember them.
-We will remember them.
You've said that the Second World War changed your attitude
towards human beings and towards human nature.
Can you tell us how it changed it?
It simply changed because, bit by bit,
we discovered what the Nazis had been doing.
Here was this highly civilised race of people
who were doing, one gradually found out,
impossible things. I remember, in those days, saying to myself,
"Yes, well, I have a Nazi inside me.
"Given the right circumstances, I could have been a Nazi."
But bit by bit, as I discovered more and more
what had gone on, that really changed my view
of what people were capable of
and therefore what human nature was.
So that political nostrums, if you like,
seemed to me just to fall flat on their face
in front of this capacity man had for a sort of absolute evil.
What did he say?
He says there's a beast,
comes out of the sea.
"Jack spoke loudly.
" 'This head is for the beast.
" 'It's a gift.'
"The silence accepted the gift and awed them.
"The head remained there, dim-eyed, grinning faintly,
"blood blackening between the teeth.
"All at once, they were running away, as fast as they could
"through the forest towards the open beach.
"Simon stayed where he was,
"a small, brown image, concealed by the leaves.
"Even if he shut his eyes,
"the sow's head still remained, like an after image.
"The half-shut eyes were dim with the infinite cynicism of adult life.
"They assured Simon that everything was a bad business."
The whole book is posing a question.
You think you've won a war.
What you've done is finished a war.
There was a crime committed in that war,
the like of which, perhaps, was never committed
in human history
and you've got to do something about it.
"Ralph looked at him dumbly.
"For a moment he had a fleeting picture of the strange glamour
"that had once invested the beaches.
"But the island was scorched up like dead wood.
"Simon was dead and Jack had...
"The tears had begun to flow and sobs shook him.
"He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island,
"great shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body.
"His voice rose unto the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island."
"And infected by that emotion,
"the other little boys began to shake and sob too.
"And in the middle of them with filthy body, matted hair
"and unwiped nose,
"Ralph wept for the end of innocence,
"the darkness of man's heart and the fall through the air
"of the true, wise friend called Piggy."
It's really hard to read that without crying.
It's an incredible piece of prose, because...
"unwiped nose"... it's a child, suddenly,
and yet he'd been a man a moment before.
There's no sentimentality, but the "true, wise friend"... it's really...
It's almost the first time he's realised
what a value Piggy was to him.
And he doesn't get gushes of emotions,
he gets two adjectives - true, wise friend.
'I think it's absolutely crucial to Lord of the Flies
'that it couldn't have been written by someone who wasn't a schoolmaster,
'because he knew boys.
'He saw how boys behaved day in and day out.'
OK, I want to start with the conch
because that's almost the first thing that's picked up, so Tom and Elliot...
Piggy's death and the conch's...
being smashed is the same time.
This kind of represents...
..the end of civilisation.
Excellent. Let Tom finish on that one,
that's a really good canter there, excellent.
When this happens it shows the complete end of civilisation and laws and order
because Piggy, towards the end of the book,
was the only one keeping law and order.
So when he dies and when the conch is shattered
which throughout the book, was representing it,
it shows that they've all sort of turned into savage
-and don't really represent anything anymore.
It's interesting the way it changes
from being a means of signalling and calling to something completely different
in their assemblies,
-almost like a mace or something ceremonial, doesn't it?
When he came out of the Navy,
Golding returned to teaching at Bishop Wordsworth's School.
But he wrote whenever he could, even in lessons,
and much of Lord Of The Flies was written in school time
in a standard-issue exercise book.
So this is the manuscript of Lord Of The Flies.
He used these exercise books for a lot of his early work.
He, I think, abstracted them from the school store.
He wrote, as you'll see, tiny writing,
which flows over the ruled lines of the exercise book.
And he added in notes, as you'll see, in red biro,
"schoolmaster's biro", he used to call it,
as if he was marking schoolboys' essays.
In 1953, Golding sent his novel to nine publishers,
all of whom rejected it.
Undaunted, he offered the manuscript to Faber and Faber,
one of the most prestigious London firms,
whose directors included the poet TS Eliot.
Crawley, I think you didn't like it.
I'm not really opposed to publication,
just doubtful of its reception by the English-speaking people.
I was a very, very junior editor,
I'd have only been in Fabers for a matter of a few months at this time,
but already there was one particular sort of thing I could spot,
and that was a tired, weather-beaten old manuscript,
that had been around to a lot of publishers before it reached us.
And this was very much that.
It was a large, yellowing manuscript,
bound in rather depressing hairy brown cardboard.
And there was a short, formal covering letter.
Miss Parkinson had written her little note on that already.
This is the comment made by the professional reader
that Fabers employed.
And she says, "Time - the future,
"absurd and uninteresting fantasy
"about the explosion of an atom bomb on the Colonies.
"A group of children who land in jungle country near New Guinea.
"Rubbish and dull. Pointless."
And then she puts an R for "Reject" in a circle.
Charles Monteith decided to take the manuscript home
and was captivated by Golding's story.
He persuaded Faber and Faber to publish the book
on condition that Golding made some significant changes to the text.
This first version is drastically different
from the Lord of the Flies most people have read.
This is a religious novel.
He says he underwent a religious convulsion
and he came out of the war deeply religious.
When Charles Monteith of Fabers
rescued this novel from the slush pile,
he thought, "All this must go. All the supernatural stuff must go."
And Golding concedes, concedes, concedes,
until what came out is a novel that is secular,
it's not assuming any supernatural intervention.
There was Golding, that was me, so we were at either end of the...
I was the school organist.
So, you know, I used to play
every day and he used to come every day.
He was a very loyal member of the choir.
I used to go and practise the organ up at St Martin's, just up the road.
I used to go up to that church
and I would suddenly find that Golding was there,
on his knees, praying, alone.
And that wasn't just one occasion, many occasions.
That made a great impression on me.
I recognised that there was a man for whom religion was really important.
When I was growing up, he was definitely Christian.
We went to church, he took me to the cathedral,
told me not to swing my legs and behave properly.
But there was also the sense that they were places of mystery,
and not always completely safe places.
I think he gave me the idea that a church was full of...
dark thoughts, as well as spiritual thoughts.
Golding's Christianity was a very odd thing.
I mean he was never an orthodox Christian, that's for sure.
There were various bits of Christianity he hated.
A friend said to him once, "Have you ever taken the sacrament?"
He said, "I'd be sick."
He said that the crucifixion should never be depicted.
"It's a horror to be veiled", he said.
SCHOOL BELL RINGS
Although Lord Of The Flies received good reviews
and Golding was recognised as a striking new talent,
he couldn't afford to give up teaching
and had to continue with an exhausting daily routine.
He came in with proofs, typewritten pages,
and he'd hand them out to you.
And he said, "I don't want you to read these,
"I just want you to count the words."
And then you had to put in pencil how many words
were on the page and hand them over to somebody else.
And then you got another one so you could check.
And it was certainly The Inheritors, the one that I was looking at,
because it was all about cavemen.
"He looked at the water,
"then at each of the people in turn,
"and they waited.
" 'I have a picture' ".
"He freed a hand and put it flat on his head as if confining the images
"that flickered there.
" 'Mal is not old
" 'but clinging to his mother's back.
" 'There is more water,
" 'not only here, but along the trail where we came.
" 'A man is wise.
" 'He makes me take a tree that has fallen and...' "
"his eyes, deep in their hollows, turn to the people
"imploring them to share a picture with him.
"At last, Ha spoke.
" 'I do not see this picture.' "
I read the first page and I remember saying to myself,
"Oh, my God, first it was schoolboys, now it's bloody cavemen!"
Of course The Inheritors, I think, is his best book.
And I think he thought so, too.
Together with his love of classical literature,
Golding had a deep interest in archaeology
and often visited the digs that were taking place
in his part of Wiltshire,
which is littered with prehistoric sites.
His second novel, The Inheritors,
focuses on a small band of Neanderthals
who encounter an unknown new species, Homo sapiens,
and are gradually exterminated.
He tries to enter the mind,
if you can use that word, of a pre-mind creature.
And he didn't follow what most people
thought about Neanderthals at that time at all.
Most people thought Neanderthals hadn't got language
and most people still think that.
He thought they had a kind of language.
He gave his Neanderthals the ability to see pictures
in each other's minds and in their own minds.
"I cannot see that picture,"
they say to each other if they don't understand.
These Neanderthals are wonderfully sensitive to the external world.
They sort of think in metaphors if they think at all,
and he's got to put that it into language which, of course, is impossible, really.
So he invents, he makes a new language,
goes inside a mode of apprehension
of the world which is quite unlike anything we have.
"They were as different from the group of bold hunters
"and magicians who had sailed up the river towards the fall,
"as a soaked feather is from a dry one.
"Restlessly, he turned the ivory in his hands.
"What was the use of sharpening it against a man?
"Who would sharpen a point against the darkness of the world?"
The questions he was...puzzled by, I think,
were questions to do with the fragility of goodness,
why is it fragile, why does it suddenly break down?
He worked out these questions in the form of modern myths,
in other words, stories full of images
which contain a great deal of meaning which is latent,
rather than expressed in any simple propositions or arguments.
They're like the myths of religion but different from them.
So, for example, the myth that is embodied in The Inheritors
is set in the context not of a biblical story or religious story
but in the context of an evolutionary biological
understanding of the prehistory of the human animal.
I think the tragic aspect of Golding's myth
is that the Neanderthals, in some sense,
intuited their fate
and knew that it couldn't be avoided.
I think it is a very sympathetic account
of how it would have felt to be a Neanderthal at this particular point,
that is, as we now know almost at the end of their existence,
possibly the last group which died out
in the face of these incoming alien modern humans.
So that's what makes it so poignant.
In the 1950s,
Golding bought a series of sailing boats
in which the family would spend their holidays,
sailing along the south coast and across the Channel to France.
Well, the first boat was Seahorse, which was a lifeboat.
Well, the first year we sailed off in that.
After he'd converted her,
put a deck and a cabin on, and we felt that was a luxury.
It wasn't even like camping,
it was just much worse because you couldn't get out and walk.
It was the most extraordinary adventure to take up.
'Another shipping forecast
'issued by the Met Office at 2343 on Saturday 18th.
'Rockall, westerly veering north westerly,
'seven to severe gale nine, decreasing, five. Showers...'
"He eyed the peculiar shapes that lay across the trousers
"indifferently for a while until at last it occurred to him
"how strange it was that lobsters should sit there.
"Then he was suddenly seized with a terrible loathing for lobsters
"and flung them away so that they cracked on the rock.
"The dull pain of the blow extended him into them again
"and they became his hands,
"lying, discarded, where he had tossed them.
Pincher Martin is one of Golding's strangest books
because, of course, except through memory it only has one protagonist
who's even more radically isolated than the schoolboys on the island.
Pincher Martin, Golding's experimental third novel,
is about a sailor who is stranded on a rock in the Atlantic
after his ship has been sunk by an enemy submarine.
The self-absorbed central character appears to look back
over his previous life and the book is both a moral investigation
and an hallucinogenic account of physical isolation.
Golding is struggling with how human beings represent their lives
to themselves and how it's very difficult to tell the difference
between a dream of a life
and the actual life that has been lived.
Is it actually a work of the imagination?
And that there's actually nothing else but,
if there are meanings in human life,
it's simply a successful exercise in the imagination?
In Pincher Martin, the rock is more than a rock in the sea
or a struggle for a man's survival on this rock,
it has other implications.
Pincher Martin isn't about a man
who tries to survive by climbing on a rock.
It is, in fact, about a man who dies on page two.
I made him die very deliberately on page two,
and the rest of the book,
right up to the last chapter, is in fact about the man in purgatory.
Because he is a very wicked man
who has no kind of religious experience at all,
he can't see the compassion of God.
And all the time he's hanging on, he is greed, sheer wickedness,
unless finally he is nothing but claws clutched into each other.
And that is still there resisting this black lightning
which is the compassion of God trying to open them up
and really trying to take them away,
trying to take all the pincher structure away.
Here are some recurrent nightmares.
On 27th January, his second dream is "I am going to be hanged,"
and then his third dream, again, "I am going to be hanged."
Dream number two, "I am going to be hanged.
"In the event, I help myself to die by slumping to my knees
"and experience an immediate
"and satisfactory state of nothingness."
"Dream ego," that's his word for having a dream.
"Dream ego has his recurrent nightmare, he is to be hanged
"and, as usual, is under no sort of restraint whatsoever."
There is one particular dream where his father is the executioner.
And there's another dream where his father has come across the world to see him hanged.
"Comment, my recurrent dream
"may be the result of drinking too much.
"Guilt, in a word."
Well, he would get drunk and he wouldn't get jollily drunk,
he'd get rather, sort of, morosely drunk.
After a while, he would drink it as if he disliked it,
as if it was evil tasting medicine.
And I even caught him once pouring bottles of wine down the sink
in an attempt to get rid of this sort of loathsome substance.
I mean, he had enormous resources of self loathing anyway.
Sometimes, it would just go over the edge
and it would be horrible.
"In a flash of vision,
"he saw how other feet would cut their track
"arrow-straight towards the city,
"understood how the tower was laying a hand on the whole landscape,
"altering it, dominating it, enforcing a pattern that reached
"wherever the tower could be seen by sheer force of its being there.
"He swung round the horizon and saw how true his vision was.
"There were new tracks, people in parties
"making their way sturdily between bushes and through heather.
"The countryside was shrugging itself obediently into a new shape.
"Presently, with this great finger sticking up,
"the city would lie like the hub at the centre of a predestined wheel.
"New Street, New Inn, New Wharf, New Bridge,
"and now new roads to bring in new people."
The Spire, Golding's fifth novel,
is about a medieval Dean called Jocelyn who has a vision
which compels him to build a huge steeple on top of his cathedral.
The physical impossibility of the project doesn't deter him
and he sacrifices everything to achieve his dream.
is a novel about the building of Salisbury Cathedral spire
and that was a thing he looked at every day from his classroom window.
When I was teaching and had it in the window
over those bowed heads, I was always puzzled by it.
It's obviously possible because there it is,
but given what technical means were possible at the time,
that's in the 13th century,
it seemed to be nearly impossible, anyway,
and I would... I wanted to find out
what kind of people would do it.
When you turned your mind to finding out, you didn't read old records
or look up the actual people who had done it,
-you went about it your own way?
-You can't find it out
because there's no manuals on how to build a gothic cathedral.
I said to myself, "What would these people have?"
And the answer is, of course, they'd have blocks and tackles.
Well, I knew about seamen ship.
So I said to myself, "How would sailors set about
"putting this thing up?" And I got at it from that point of view.
So, as far as I know,
the whole thing is an invention from beginning to end
but it seems to work and people believe it.
"The whole building revealed itself to me.
"The whole building spoke.
" 'We are labour,' said the walls.
"The ogival windows clasped their hands and sang,
" 'We are prayer.'
"And the trinity over the triangular roof...
"But how shall I say it?
"I had tried to give away my house
"and it had returned to me a thousand fold."
He presents in The Spire
this character called Dean Jocelyn
who builds the spire - he is responsible for planning it, getting the money.
And what is Jocelyn motivated by
is the great question of the novel. Is he motivated by egotism? Yes.
A kind of sublimated sexuality? Yes.
Yes, as well.
So, he's questioning, through Jocelyn, himself, I think.
And I think that's when it comes, at this quite crucial time
in his life when he is just about to start being a full-time writer.
I wanted to conceive the kind of man who would say "This must be done."
And would not know at the beginning
that even if God had told him to do this,
nevertheless the cost was going to be his life
and probably other people's lives, too.
I still think it's a good image almost of any human endeavour,
that it can never be wholly good, it must always have a cost in people.
Jocelyn was a fanatic, was he not?
We are in the presence of religious fanaticism.
We see what it can do.
Its cost in suffering and death and sorrow is...is immeasurable.
"I thought it would be simple.
"I thought the spire would complete a stone bible,
"it would be the apocalypse in stone.
"I never guessed in my folly
"that there would be a new lesson at every level and a new power.
"Nor could I have been told. I had to build in faith against advice,
"that's the only way, that when you build like this,
"men blunt like a poor chisel or fly off like the head of an axe.
"I was too taken up with my vision to consider this.
"And the vision was enough."
He just has captured what happens
when a vision gets so mixed up with self-aggrandisement,
when somebody so lacks self-awareness,
that actually they and their project become one.
And so what we have is a perfect description,
not just of Deans, but of any human venture,
where a leader loses track of their own humility.
We should distrust the voice that tells us that we are right
and everybody else is wrong.
'I have always been a great admirer of Golding's talent
'but this is a very, very, very bad book.'
'I happen to agree, only more.
'I heard the word gothic mentioned a couple of times
but this is all mock gothic.'
The Spire came out, I think, in April
and quite soon afterwards, there was a radio review of it.
And one of the people on the panel
had really taken against the book.
'The writer sometimes seems to be using the dark ages
'as an excuse for extravagance.'
'I was much more revolted by the book's excesses.
'I believe an American reviewer has already said of this book,
'that it touches the "Wuthering" depths...'
We were all sitting around in the sitting room
in our cottage in Wiltshire,
and my father, I'd never seen him so emotional.
He turned absolutely white and crashed out of the room.
'I think it is a bad book because I find its symbolism crude.
'I find the sexual undertone of spire building very, very badly managed.
'Very pervasive, very disagreeable.'
And my mother started swearing
and I have never heard her swear like that.
But I think it frightened my father.
I think it had an effect
on his ability to be confident in his imagination,
and perhaps even to be confident in my mother's judgement.
So...this shook him,
this really shook him.
"He opened his eyes quickly and there was the head,
"grinning amusedly in the strange daylight, ignoring the flies,
"the spilled guts,
"even ignoring the indignity
"of being spiked on a stick."
"He looked away, licking his dry lips.
"A gift for the beast,
"might not the beast come for it?
"The head, he thought, appeared to agree with him.
" 'Run away,' said the head silently, 'Go back to the others.' "
Although Lord of the Flies had been a critical success
it wasn't until the publication of the American edition,
and particularly the paperback in 1959,
that Golding became an international bestseller
and started to earn large amounts in royalties.
Lord of the Flies has since sold more than 40 million copies.
Well, I grew up a in a little town called Durham, Maine,
and at that time, the State of Maine had a bookmobile service,
it was a mobile library.
And one day I said to the lady who drove the bookmobile,
"Do you have anything about kids the way that kids really are?"
And she thought a little bit about it and she said,
"Well, there's one book
"and it's called Lord of the Flies,
"but if anyone asks you where you got it,
"say you found it on your own because I might lose my job.
"That's an adult book."
And I thought, "Hmm, an adult book about kids."
And I was completely riveted by the story from the very beginning
because it was like a boy's story, the ones that I was accustomed to.
The difference was the boys were real boys.
They acted the way that I understood boys acted.
You guys are assholes!
"At last, the words of the chant floated up to them
"across the bowl of blackened wood and ashes,
" 'Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill her blood.' "
You have to put things in context, too,
of the time when I read those lines.
It would have been 1960,
around the time that Kennedy became President
and the civil rights unrest was beginning in the south.
And we saw on the nightly news
police turning dogs on people
who just wanted to ride the bus.
MUSIC: "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel
The Vietnam War made the book seem even more relevant.
It acquired a cult status amongst young people in America
and Golding became a '60s phenomenon.
We knew that there was bad stuff there.
And I think that, past a certain age, most kids do.
And you look for somebody to explain it to you.
And that's one of the things that the Golding book did.
It explained it to me. It didn't preach, I didn't need that,
but stories, stories that illuminated. That was valuable
and I grabbed that with both hands.
So, in that sense, it was comforting.
It was the idea that somebody else understands.
# Are you going to Scarborough fair
# Parsley, sage rosemary and thyme
# Remember me to the one who lives there
# She once was a true love of mine... #
For 30 years, the Goldings lived in Bowerchalke,
an idyllic Wiltshire village just outside Salisbury.
"I am small and in the garden at Marlborough.
"It is twilight. There is a live snake in the garden
"which seems to me about five feet long
"and thick as my arm.
"I hold it firmly close behind the head with my left hand,
"since I am left-handed. The snake writhes and struggles,
"but I know it cannot bite or sting me so long as I hold it just so.
"Somehow the affair changes.
"I am examining a dark hole in the garden
"and the snake is inside, its head now resting in the entrance."
I mean, you know, he doesn't bother to say,
"This is just so amazingly Freudian I don't know what to do about it."
I think it was 1966.
My father received a letter from an American graduate student,
saying she was studying his work and would like to talk to him.
And he got lots of these letters
and, mostly, he said, "No."
This time he said no politely and she was much more persistent.
I wrote him a letter.
I got a response and he told me, yes, that he would see me.
I could take the train up to Salisbury
and he would give me lunch in a pub
and he would be sitting in his Rover,
and he wrote out the licence number.
And we went to a pub for lunch and then we talked.
I think the two of us were both very nervous, I certainly was.
And then he took me to Old Sarum and he took me to Stonehenge.
This was a very big thing in both my parents' lives.
Virginia was a very attractive, very intelligent,
very sympathetic person.
Very interested in his writing,
somebody I think my father wanted to be friends with.
But I think it would be misleading
if I didn't acknowledge that he also,
at some layer, at some degree,
I think he fell in love with her.
Was he infatuated with a young Virginia Tiger?
Was he smitten with a young Virginia Tiger, to use an English phrase?
Was he besotted with a young Virginia Tiger,
to use something that might be used in France or Italy
or one of those wicked places?
I would say, yes, he must have been.
There must have been that interest.
We were not lovers, although it was thought that...
I'm sure that Ann thought that might have been a possibility.
We were not lovers. We were very, very good friends.
"We had one of those interminable, reasonable conversations
"about the relationship between men and women.
"One would not be jealous.
"One would understand enjoyment taken with a third person.
"Nothing was permanent, nothing was more than relative.
"Sex was a private business, sex was a clinical matter
"and contraception had removed the need for orthodox family life.
"And then suddenly we were clinging to each other
"as though we were the only stable thing in an earthquake."
You have to remember that I was young,
certainly smart, and attractive.
So she made it very uncomfortable for me.
I think, er... I think she didn't like me.
I'm sure she didn't like me.
Ann was deeply, deeply resentful and jealous
because she thought that she was the person who shared his creative life,
of course, and had shared his creative life, still did.
So yeah, it was a very bad moment for the marriage
and in some sense didn't heal.
Golding's preferred means of escape was to go to sea.
In 1966, he used some of his new-found wealth
to buy a glamorous Dutch racing yacht called Tenace
in which he planned to sail through the canals of France to Greece.
It was 1967
and we set sail on this tremendous boat.
We were sailing through lightish fog
I mean, it was most extraordinary.
Part of the fog seemed to get thicker.
And then we realised it was the bow of a huge ship.
It was an enormous freighter and it wasn't very far away
and it was coming straight for us.
And my father put the boat about
and we just glanced
down the side of this boat
and water started to come in.
And I think it very likely that we would have drowned.
Then we saw that somebody on the boat had seen us.
They went round in a huge circle and came back and found us again.
It affected both my parents terribly strongly.
My mother instantly became very ill.
My father became fantastically depressed
and I think it's easy to see why.
He was a sailor, that was one of the defining aspects of him, I think.
And if you're a sailor and a captain
and you lose your ship...
That's a very crushing disgrace.
I was able to see him after that.
We were in a pub in London
and he looked up at a lovely barmaid
and remembered lines from Eliot's The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock.
And these are...
"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
"By sea girls wreathed
"With seaweed, red and brown,
"Till human voices wake us and we drown."
I would think that we were in correspondence
less and less over five years.
I think that Ann felt it had gone on, the correspondence had gone on
too long and that that should stop.
"I find it difficult to decide when the crisis began.
"But by 1971, it was unendurable.
"Not only did life seem pointless,
"there was a kind of raw intensity about daylight perception
"that could not be endured.
"On top of that, there was an insomniac length to every night
"when each second had its own weight,
"its tiny addition like a Chinese water torture.
"The remedy for this, of course, was drink - the old, old anodyne.
"I do not now remember how many times
"I was dead drunk in this period."
I think part of the depression, really,
was simply that he didn't have enough structure around him.
He'd had this terrifying school day
and he'd wrote books in it very successfully.
I mean, I think he missed that and he missed the contact certainly.
And it's a bit of a mistake a lot of the time
for writers to shut themselves away.
After the Tenace was sunk in 1967,
Golding wouldn't write another novel for more than ten years.
He had quit the job as a teacher.
He was living and working at home.
But Ann was also not working outside the home.
There were occasional moments when the two of them would disappear
and it was known they were talking about Bill's writing.
But also in the early '70s, this was a period
when he was having a lot of trouble writing.
So in a sense of... The absolutely verboten question was,
"Are you writing something now?"
You know, "Would you like to talk about it?"
"Once or twice I was drunk for more than a day.
"I said unforgivable things to Ann and pulled her about
"on at least three occasions.
"The rawness of daylight pushed at me.
"The presence of David exasperated me.
"My inability to write fretted me and I drank."
Another source of Golding's distress was his son David's mental illness.
Although David went to Oxford, he found university very stressful
and his behaviour became increasingly unstable.
My tutor at Brasenose
offered to let me have a year off
and go to the Warneford Hospital in Oxford,
but I rejected that.
I felt I had to face this
and go through the normal process of an undergraduate.
But, later, it got worse.
I think it really hit about 1968,
because that's a year I really don't remember much about.
I know things were happening which I should've been interested in,
like the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union.
For my parents to have a child
with a real severe, lifelong mental illness
was, I think, their great tragedy.
"The figure was a child,
"He was naked and the miles of light lit him variously.
"A child's stride is quick,
"but this child walked down the very middle of the street
"with a kind of ritual gait
"that in an adult would have been called solemn.
"His face was so swollen he could only glimpse
"where he was going through the merest of slits.
"It was perhaps something animal that was directing him
"away from the place where the world was being consumed.
"Perhaps it was luck, good or bad,
"that kept him pacing in the one direction where he might survive."
I think that Darkness Visible is Golding's reaction
to what had happened to David.
He said that there were two novels he had tried to portray a saint in.
One was Simon in Lord of the Flies,
the other was Matty in Darkness Visible.
He was writing a novel about the Blitz
and a child who walks naked out of a firestorm.
It can't have happened.
This is the kind of firestorm that melts metal.
Eventually, after very strange adventures,
the kind that happen to a sort of religious maniac,
he develops a relationship with spirits
who tell him that he's to be sacrificed.
I think that Darkness Visible is a kind of homage to David.
David was very religious. Became a Catholic,
gave away his possessions.
And I think this novel is an attempt to come to terms with
and see what is great in David.
Sometime this year, my brother said to me,
"Of course, you know, I think Matty is me, really."
And I was, um...surprised,
but, in a sense, relieved,
because that means it's OK to discuss it now.
I think there's a huge link between Matty and David,
and I think there's also a link between Matty and my father.
My own feeling, having watched David through these terrible vicissitudes,
is that his mind is quite similar to my father's,
and his imaginative capacity is quite similar,
but something has just tipped it too far that way.
Whereas I think my father's imagination,
which is often quite touch and go
on the "is he sane, is he mad" front...
..it just manages to walk the line in between it.
'We're now alerted to the dangers of an uncontrolled use of pesticides.
'Traces of DDT have even been found in the fat of penguins
'and it took Professor Lovelock's electron absorption detector
'to spot the minute, although important, quantities involved.'
We both of us walked from our homes to the village post office.
And we would start talking to each other in the way you do,
in a village like Bowerchalke,
and that led to exchange of all sorts of views.
We talked about it, and in a sense it was a joint thing.
The earth is a system made up of all of the rocks,
the ocean and the atmosphere and all of the living things,
working together to form a self-regulating entity
that keeps its climate and chemical composition always
so that the planet is habitable.
In other words, big as it is,
it's still behaving as if it were something alive.
And Bill said, "If you're going to come up with a grand idea like that,
"you better give it a good name." So I said, "What would you suggest?"
He said, "I'd call it Gaia, the Greek name for the earth's goddess."
"Now we, if not in the spirit,
"have been caught up to see our earth,
"our mother, Gaia Mater, set like a jewel in space.
"We have no excuse now for supposing her riches inexhaustible
"nor the area we have to live on limitless, because unbounded.
"We are the children of that great blue, white jewel.
"Through our mother, we are part of the solar system and part,
"through that, of the whole universe.
"In the blazing poetry of the fact, we are the children of the stars."
In October 1983,
Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature,
the first English writer to receive it since Winston Churchill in 1953.
One of the judges in Stockholm
announced that he disagreed with the choice,
and described Golding as "a small British phenomenon of no importance."
There was a tremendous farce.
Other judges who shouldn't have broken confidence wrote to Golding
to cheer him up and said that these decisions were never actually unanimous,
that this bloke had taken leave of his senses.
Nonetheless, Golding was deeply hurt.
It just, in a way, reinforced his feeling that somewhere,
in the establishment of culture and the arts,
there was enmity directed against him.
"These are the good fellows whose duty it is to steer our ship,
"to haul on the ropes and do strange things with our sails
"in positions which must surely be perilous, so high they go.
"All this I watch with complacency from far off
"in the shelter of the wooden wall with its stairways, that lead up
"to where the privileged passengers live.
"But forward, beyond the white line which separates the social orders,
"the people work and sing and keep time to the fiddle when they play.
"For like children, they play,
"dancing innocently to the sound of the fiddle."
Rites of Passage is the first in a trilogy of novels
which chronicle a voyage from England to Australia
in the early 19th century.
It is a monumental late work
in which Golding pursues his constant themes of class,
myth, the border between reality and unreality,
and man's capacity for inhumanity.
'It's a voyage that takes a year from Tilbury Docks to Sydney Harbour.
'The overall headline of the story
'is trying to get from one end of the earth to the other by sea'
using ropes and pulleys, canvas and wood,
in order to try and battle against the ever-changing, ever-unpredictable
and unmasterable sea.
'Celebrations are in full swing
'with the news that the 1980 Booker Prize for fiction
'has been won by William Golding.'
'Rites Of Passage,'
a powerful, allegorical novel about life on board a sailing ship
going from England to Australia in the early 19th century.
'I don't like the word "allegorical", I don't like the word "symbolic".
'"he word I really like is "mythic" and people always think
'that means full of lies, whereas of course what it really means'
is full of a truth that cannot be told in any other way but a story.
What do you think, to put it very crudely, you were trying to say?
What is that truth that you were trying to convey?
Oh, mercy, the brotherhood of man
and the capacity for cruelty that we all have in us
and which we have to control.
No, I'm not ready!
Rites of Passage centres on the public humiliation
of one of the passengers, a parson who gets drunk,
has sex with one of the sailors, and then literally dies of shame.
You must be cleansed!
There's a crossing of the line ceremony where they go across the equator and Neptune arises
and there's this big sort of festival.
And the Reverend Colley is the subject of the dunking,
the sort of ritual to take one of the passengers and sort of baptise them.
And it's very, very fierce.
I think Golding's always been fascinated with that, how closely we rub up against barbarity.
And that within the blink of an eye,
you can have something very civilised and seemingly in control
turn into something that is monstrous.
I think he was particularly interested in humiliation.
The character Colley is desperately and utterly
and completely humiliated.
There's drunkenness, there's sexual humiliation, it's all in public.
I think that somewhat goes back to the social class aspect of things.
In June 1988, Golding was given a knighthood.
for a writer who had long complained about the English class system,
he had lobbied vociferously for the honour,
and immediately had his and Ann's passports changed
to "Sir William and Lady Golding".
In their 70s, the Goldings had moved to Cornwall.
They bought Tullimar,
a large Georgian house a few miles from the sea
in the village of Perranarworthal,
about as far away from the literary world Golding so disliked
as it was possible to be.
Matthew Evans, who was then the chairman of Faber & Faber said,
"Bill rather wants a version of Lord Of The Flies done for the stage."
And down I went to Cornwall.
And they said, "He'll meet you at the station."
He said, "We live down here because people can't get at us."
But he said, "I think that the way to present this book in the theatre,
"and I think it would be good in the theatre,
"is to try and scrape it back to the original intellectual themes
"that are at its heart."
'It really is the story of English democracy
'and the way in which democracy is a very fragile thing
'that can be broken.'
"The dark boy, Roger, stirred at last and spoke up, 'Let's have a vote'.
"Yes, vote for a chief, let's vote."
-You've done it!
This symbol of the conch, which is at the heart of the whole book,
which is the moment which they can all come together
and agree on something, it could be a symbol of kingly power,
it could be the staff at the English Houses of Parliament,
but it's very much to do with English consensus
and he was fascinated by that.
And that's what he saw the book being about,
because it's about a group of English schoolboys.
As the guy says at the end of the book,
"I thought an English bunch of schoolboys would have done a little bit better than that."
So it's sort of about the old school tie, too.
Maybe there is a beast.
Hear him! He's got the conch.
'What I mean is...
'maybe it's only us.'
On the island, there was nothing for the boys to fear
but fear itself, really. But that fear produced gangs
and produced violence in the end. You've got Jack's camp
and you've got Ralph's camp at the end of the day.
The only thing that produced those was the fear
and the beast, which WAS the fear.
< Could you give us an example?
I don't know, say, like, recently, the riots.
It's people... They're destroying their own place,
their own city, because on the island, they're afraid of things,
when really it turns out to be themselves, so they destroy their own habitat through the fires
and destroy each other's lives.
"Jack had backed right against the tribe
"and they were a solid mass of menace that bristled with spears.
"The intention of a charge was forming among them.
"Ralph stood facing them, a little to one side, his spear ready.
"The storm of sound beat at them, an incantation of hatred."
'Slit his throat! Bash him in! Kill the pig!'
The debate about good and evil is absolutely at the heart,
the debate about original sin.
Is man a wicked person who has to be improved and moulded by society?
Or is man naturally good?
It touches on an absolutely fundamental debate.
'We have a disharmony in our natures.
'We cannot live together without injuring each other.'
If you look at, not just Lord Of The Flies, but all the books,
I don't think there is another post-war English novelist
who goes so deeply into these fundamental questions
of morality and politics.
I can't think of another writer who matches him,
for the intense way he experiences human emotions, human passion
in a poetic and yet controlled and English way.
I found his body that morning - he died very, very suddenly.
And fortunately my father, who's a doctor, was in the house
and could talk me through this, and indeed the rest of the family,
because I'd never seen a dead body before.
I wanted to put the body on the back of a horse
and take it to the top of a hill and make a bonfire out of it.
Or alternatively put it on a boat, a flaming boat and push it out to sea.
He was clearly very involved with the great epic writers,
so I pictured him also as a kind of Greek bard
in a kind of Homeric mode.
Almost with a lyre, declaiming these things.
In The Spire, when Jocelyn's dying,
he's obviously in a fairly weird state
and he sees the people around him, not as the human beings
he's familiar with, but as shapes and structures and textures
that are completely unfamiliar.
And this was 1964, nearly 30 years before he died,
and he obviously had a strong idea of what it was like to die.
"No matter how high he rises, robe after robe,
"tomorrow or the day after,
"they will tap three times
"on the smooth parchment of that forehead with the silver hammer.
"Then his mind trotted away again
"and he saw what an extraordinary creature Father Adam was,
"covered in parchment from head to foot,
"parchment stretched or tucked in,
"with curious hairs on top
"and a mad structure of bones to keep it apart.
"Immediately, as in a dream that came between him and the face,
"he saw all people naked, creatures of light brown parchment
"which bound in their pipes or struts.
"He saw them pace or prance in sheets of woven stuff
"with the skins of dead animals under their feet.
"And he began to struggle and gasp to leave this vision behind him
"in words that never reached the air."
'It seems to me that we do live in two worlds.
'There is this physical one which is coherent,
'and there is a spiritual one, which to the average man,
'with his flashes of religious experience,
'if you'd like to call them, that world is very often incoherent.'
This experience of having two worlds to live in all the time
or not all the time, occasionally,
is a vital one and is what living is like.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The Dreams of William Golding reveals the extraordinary life of one of the greatest English writers of the 20th century.
With unprecedented access to the unpublished diaries in which Golding recorded his dreams, the film penetrates deep into his private obsessions and insecurities.
His daughter Judy and son David both speak frankly about their father's demons, and the film follows Golding from the impoverished schoolmaster whose first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published when he was forty-three years old, to his winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1983.
Other contributors include Golding's biographer John Carey, philosopher John Gray, writer Nigel Williams, the dean of Salisbury Cathedral, the Very Revd June Osborne and best-selling author Stephen King.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who starred in the 2004 BBC adaptation of Golding's sea trilogy To the Ends of the Earth, reads extracts from his books.