Monday, June 19, 2006

William Golding's last night on earth

On this date thirteen years ago William Golding died. Click here to read a brief account of his life and work.

The writer D.M. Thomas attended a party at the home of William Golding on the night the Nobel laureate died.

The two were not close friends, the cause of death was not scandalous (Golding was eighty-two with a heart condition), and no deep personal secrets or astounding insights about the world were revealed that evening. Golding had taken care of the latter with Lord of the Flies, the theme of which he later said was (if memory serves) , "grief, sheer grief, grief, grief."

I don't know Thomas's work--his best known book is The White Hotel (1981)--but the short article he wrote about his time at the Golding house the night the famous man died is worth reading. Click here to read it.

In the presentation speech for Golding's 1983 Nobel prize, Professor Lars Gyllensten of the Swedish Academy noted that Golding once wrote: "I must say that anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head."

Yet in his own acceptance speech, Golding spoke differently: "Critics have dug into my books until they could come up with something hopeless. I can't think why. I don't feel hopeless myself.... I am a universal pessimist but a cosmic optimist." He died a decade later.

--Marshal Zeringue