Rediscover: Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies, William Golding's classic tale of juvenile savagery, turns 64 this year. It was his debut novel, and an initial commercial disappointment before exploding into the mega-bestseller now ensconced in the modern literary canon. Lord of the Flies also frequently lands on school reading lists, where children of similar age to Ralph and Piggy get dark glimpses of ids untethered by island isolation. The descent of British schoolboys from airplane crash survivors into tribal murderers has left indelible marks on pop culture--the conch, the hog's head swarming with flies, poor Piggy and his glasses--and sewed seeds of inspiration in whole generations of writers. Stephen King's fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine was named after the boulder formation used as a fort by Jack's rival tribe in Lord of the Flies. King also wrote an introduction to a 2011 edition of the book released for Golding's 100th birthday (he died in 1993).

Golding's other novels span a range of genres, from his nautical To the Ends of the Earth trilogy, about a British man-of-war's travels to Australia in the 19th century, to The Inheritors, about the extinction of Neanderthals at the hands of modern man. Lord of the Flies remains his paramount literary work, one that has been reprinted dozens of times. In 2016, Penguin Classics released a deluxe edition with King's introduction, a foreword by Lois Lowry, an essay by E.M. Forster, an essay on how to teach the novel by Jennifer Buehler, a note by E.L. Epstein, publisher of the first American paperback copy, and an evocative new cover ($16, 9780143129400). --Tobias Mutter

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