Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book Review: Darkness Visible by William Golding

Nothing major going on here, just the insane business of the holidays working at Borders, so I thought I'd give a book review of one that will be reprinted next year, Darkness Visible by William Golding:

In Lord of the Flies, Golding demonstrated the darkness that lies within all of us, and how it appears when rules go by the wayside. In Darkness Visible, he goes one step further. Born out of dark circumstances, the young and innocent are corrupted by their adult counterparts, and, because there is no one to teach them rules, they become devoured in their own addictions. This is a complex, gothic novel that will stay in the minds of readers for a long time afterwards. It will remind some readers of Orson Scott Card's Songmaster.

Basically, Golding applies the philosophy he set out in LOTF to today's society. The whole idea of what Golding uses here is somewhat confusing. In LOTF, society (the culture and rules that hold the boys together) unravels, turning the boys into feral beings. Only a couple of kids maintain the values that he believes in. At the end of the book (especially the recent movie), Golding paralells this to the wars going on at the time he wrote it. That the few who can keep their values are often overcome by those who are without morals or a system of beliefs. When the system breaks down, cahos ensues.

Now, in Darkness Visible Golding takes this idea and applies it to a society integrated into civilization. The feral subconscious that lies within all of us, the temptations, the obsessions, come out in the main characters. Sex, drugs, crime, each character succumbs to his or her own temptation. And it's the adults who seduce the younger generation with those temptation.

However, there's one important change at the end. The experiment is this: can a person who has succumbed to the subconscious desires within (the darkness) finally control those desires and eventually reappear from that desire. An amazing book--a psychological study, an examination on society, a great novel, and a magnificent work of literature.

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