Read Darkness Visible by William Golding Online


A dazzlingly dark novel by the Nobel Laureate.At the height of the London blitz, a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire. Miraculously saved yet hideously scarred, tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him: twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political viA dazzlingly dark novel by the Nobel Laureate.At the height of the London blitz, a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire. Miraculously saved yet hideously scarred, tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him: twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political violence, Sophy in sexual tyranny. As Golding weaves their destinies together, as he draws them toward a final conflagration, his book lights up both the inner and outer darknesses of our time....

Title : Darkness Visible
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374525606
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Darkness Visible Reviews

  • Szplug
    2019-02-18 20:37

    Golding's prose herein is of elemental force. Apropos to the title, this is pure darkness, but infused with energy, fleet and engulfing and laced with a humour utterly attuned to this spelunking of the visceral, primordial reservoirs we all possess and bear the potential to tap into. As always in books of this subject when handled by a master, it awoke and evoked thought, emotion, and reflection in parallel and at a tangent to that sprung open within the primary characters—proved a fictive Rorschach test with revealed shapes that thrill and trouble. Matty and Sophy made for a compulsive pair of enigmatic seekers—hunting identity and purpose, mastering will and entropy in their redemptive spiritual quests in the midst of a world of muted tones and colors. In particular, the opening and closing set pieces of two of the novel's divisions—the image of Matty as a barely-recognizable child emerging, in ruin, from the hellish furnace of a dockside London set aflame by Luftwaffe bombers, an ersatz saint conceived, enwombed, and birthed from within the bleached, blinding purity of an inferno's core; and that of Sophy and her father in a confrontation of the cerebral and the sensual, the one set to peregrine paths and the other within scientific/numeric orderliness, in which inflamed, psychologically-battered rejection instantiated into perched seduction is met with the caustic, slashing negation of masculine hatred—could not be more perfectly realized. Indeed, Golding had impressive ambitions throughout, trying to sculpt from materials of an ineffable and abstract nature. He couldn't quite pull it all together; I think he may have been surprised by where his own creations led him, found them running away from his control. As a story, it doesn't work perfectly at all. As a novel, it is fucking brilliant. If he'd been born in Athens circa 500 BC, we'd likely be marveling at the tragedies of Goldinydes....

  • Hugo Emanuel
    2019-02-12 16:04

    "Darkness Visible" foi o primeiro romance publicado por William Golding depois de um longo hiato de doze anos. Golding, escritor galardoado com um prémio Nobel e autor dos excelentes romances "O Deus das Moscas" (Lord of the Flies) e "A Catedral" (The Spire), oferece-nos em "Darkness Visible" uma meditação extremamente simbólica sobre a dualidade inerente á experiência humana. A perda da espiritualidade e o crescente cepticismo que caracteriza a sociedade moderna, a natureza do bem e mal, a procura de significado num mundo aparentemente caótico e cada vez mais materialista e "sedado" são os principais temas abordados neste curto romance de Golding, onde os acontecimentos, estes narrados de um modo vago e pouco desenvolvido, parecem ser apenas um veiculo para atulhar o romance – e consequentemente o cérebro do leitor – de simbologia que, no fim de contas, pouco tem de inovadora, tanto em termos estéticos como em ideias. De um modo geral, o romance acompanha duas personagens bastante distintas: Matty, um jovem que, quando criança, sobrevive a um bombardeamento alemão com o lado esquerdo do seu rosto severamente deformado, mantendo-se completamente intacto o lado direito e que procura alcançar pureza e elevação espiritual, e Sophie, uma rapariga extremamente bela que se deixa fascinar cada vez mais pelo que de mais sórdido o mundo tem para oferecer.A história e temas, embora carregados de potencial, são abordados de uma forma muito pouco consistente – se por um lado o autor demora-se (por vezes demasiadamente) no que o romance tem de mais simbólico, por outro avança o enredo apressadamente e em traços demasiado gerais. Consequentemente, o romance pareceu-me estruturalmente mal planeado e elaborado.Apesar de não se tratar de todo de um mau romance, recomendaria um leitor ainda não familiarizado com a obra de Golding a começar pelos excelentes “O Deus das Moscas” ou “A Catedral”, que abordam essencialmente os mesmos temas de um modo muito mais empolgante e bem estruturado.

  • Matt
    2019-02-16 17:46

    ...except out of morbid fascination. I remember this book, I just stumbled over it when I was reading someone else's review. I'd forgotten this book, it's literally been over ten years since I read it. I read it because the library had it and I'd of course read LOTF, and I wondered what another book by this guy might be like.Ugh. Portentious, bleak, kind of absurd and random and overly allegorical, boomfog at its finest.I do remember one thing, though, which stuck with me then and now for its bald, bright-shining METAPHOR AlERT or, worse, GREAT STATEMENT UPON THE HUMAN RACE COMING UP... It's this scene where two characters are having sex for the first time. They're, like, numb or something because I remember what was immediately interesting to my 15-yr old mind came across as some kind of drab, trying-too-hard version of REAL LITERATURE... Anyway the girl character sort of is described (already a problem there) as enjoying it in an odd, sort of abstract way, calling it a "faint, ring-shaped pleasure"...which took me awhile to get, to be honest, but now that I feel like I've got it I don't feel like I've experienced anything at all... Lots of burning, anguish, freaky-deaky-deaky-doo...I remember the title was immediately gripping, also why I probably read it in the first place. I mean, how can darkness be 'visible'? Ooh, zen riddle approacheth.But seriously, I do remember thinking about that one for a while. I mean, you can SEE darkness, can't you? I mean, if you're looking at it then it's something you can see----or, is it that darkness is the emptiness filling the void of what you can't see?Poetically it somehow makes so much potent, counter-intuitive sense...years later, quite by accident, I stumbled over the phrase in a moment of "Paradise Lost"; I shook my head, blinked my eyes, and sighed with deep satisfaction. Cover's pretty haunting, too, isn't it?

  • umberto
    2019-01-30 16:59

    3.75 starsI came across this secondhand copy at the DASA Book Cafe in Bangkok late last month and decided to read it as his fifth novel due to its obviously easy-to-read fonts; my thanks and gratefulness to those smart and considerate Faber and Faber team because I've always been happy reading their published works since half a century ago. Indeed, I read William Golding, once in a while, so I have to confess that I prefer reading him less than W. Somerset Maugham, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Graham Greene, John le Carre, etc., that is, most of their works or nearly all. Probably it might have been the snag, the wall or something formidable that loomed over me while reading his famous Lord of the Flies (Penguin 1999) for the first time in the early 70s, in other words, my first impression intermingled between joy vs boredom, clarity vs obscurity, light vs darkness, etc.However, for some reason, after my first encounter with him I still keep reading him trying to find any title that, hopefully, may literally captivate me in another expedition from beginning to the end with arguable enjoyment and understanding or simple appreciation. So since after finishing the famous one above, I have read his The Pyramid (Faber and Faber 2010), To The End of the Earth: A Sea Trilogy (Faber and Faber 2004), and The Hot Gates and Other Occasional Pieces (Faber and Faber 1984). As for a few key characters in this novel who are notable and worth saying a bit more, I think, of course Matty, Mr Pedigree and Sophy. Mysteriously and pitifully deformed by the Blitz fire in London in World War II, Matty has eventually proved himself as a man of integrity who keeps persisting in the world without evil thought or action. In contrast, Mr Pedigree in such a respectable guise of an old teacher is typically evil-prone, fox-like toward some of his favorite boys in his class as his preys of his tormented mind. As for Sophy notorious for "sexually tyranny" (back cover), a beauty in her own right whose destiny is a waste of such a girl in her bloom, It is a bit hard to understand how tyrant she is and why.To continue . . .

  • Derrick
    2019-01-28 21:00

    I love Golding's view of the world. This continues where "Lord of the Flies" left off; that human nature is inherently savage. That is, the world isn't needed to corrupt a child, we all accomplish that just fine on our own. Bleak, but intriguing. This book was also clever and suspenseful, more so than LotF, excellent read.

  • Trunatrschild
    2019-02-01 20:57

    Weird book, course William Golding doesn't write bland literature! I am 10 pages from the end and can't figure the point of the book other than weird things happen, child molesters exist, and people can be monstrous. It's not an offensive book, and the only thing that would make it a difficult read is that I can't figure out the 'point'. It's a couple of biopics of people who's lives cross this poor strange man who was blown up or burnt in the London Blitz. The cover says it's a mystery, but well, it's a mystery that there's no attempt to solve. At the time, due to his Lord of the Flies book, this book may have been more esteemed, but it just seems like a diary of people who aren't very nice, mixed in with one or two who are. Times have changed, and the monsters in this book may have been more monstrous at the time, when child molesting and gangster types were a lot rarer.I think he was intending to shock, but it's lost it's shock value with the degradation of Western Culture. It's an interesting read and maybe gave me validation that a lot of bad things in my culture had it's roots in the 60's, not in the 80's that I thought.It's very well written, smooth and gentle and the insinuations of insight is interesting.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-23 21:36

    They gave Golding the Nobel Prize in 83? Must have been a dearth of contenders. This 60s novel of ideas is actually tedious, with a narrative so laden with "meaning" that the story is lost. Ugh. Penance. Darkness visible indeed.

  • Stephen Bird
    2019-02-08 17:52

    I recently read "Lord of the Flies" and then happened upon this lesser-known book by William Golding. I am a slow reader, but I read this novel surprisingly quickly, and was drawn in and eventually absorbed by the characters, their inner dialogues and their private universes. Matty, the "Anti-Hero/Martyr", represents many things for me--a prophet in the wilderness, a shaman, a clown, whom I would not consider to be evil; he is not vengeful, violent, nor is he vindictive. And yet in his silence, he can be frightening; he commits "a grievous deed" for which he turns to the Bible, and then to spirits/spiritual guides, in a quest for redemption. There is a dreamy, surreal aspect to the prose, that occasionally left me confused as to the exact nature of whatever reality was being described at a particular moment; for example, near the end of the book--is Sophy (one of two "evil twins") actually brutalizing the young boy that has been kidnapped for her, or only suffering from criminal delusions of grandeur? Is she merely imagining this violence? I am impressed with the way Golding develops both the inner and outer lives of the two little girls (Sophy and Toni), who start out innocently enough as children. Sophy and Toni grow up in an emotional vacuum, nursing dangerous fantasies, as a result of their father's neglect. Nevertheless--in the end, both girls make their choices about the type of individuals they want to be. Certainly the traumatic childhoods of Sophy and Toni contribute to their respective downward spirals into delinquency. [And yet others, who in real life come from scarier circumstances than these two little girls, can go on to accomplishment, achievement and greatness in their adult lives.] Sophy and Toni are both very bright girls; at least metaphorically, the twins resemble Regan and Goneril from Shakespeare's "King Lear", minus Cordelia. Matty chooses his destiny as well; the difference being that I can sympathize with Matty, as he, and his life, has been so literally "scarred" from the beginning. Like Quasimodo, the archetypal "ugly monster" often has the biggest heart. Matty's deformity also makes him stronger than either Sophy or Toni; he is resiliently independent from a very young age. And as reclusive and mysterious as Matty is--I believe him to be compassionate. After reading this book, which contains some "Dickensian" aspects (particularly the character of Mr. Pedigree), in my understanding of the term--I can see why Golding became a Nobel laureate. Not only by means of his intellectual and creative gifts, but also via the empathy and understanding he shows for his characters. All of which Golding is able to elucidate in a prose that is often poetic, and explicit when necessary (surely this was much easier to do in 1979 when this book was published, then it would have been in 1954 when "Lord of the Flies" was published). I am looking forward to reading Golding's second novel, "The Inheritors". There is a lot to be learned from this multi-faceted writer.

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-02-20 18:57

    This novel begins with a child emerging from a fire caused by German bombs in World War II London. Anonymous and badly disfigured, the child will be named Matty and will become one of the central characters in Nobel laureate William Golding's disturbing 1979 novel. Matty asks the questions "Who am I," "What am I," and finally "What am I to do." His lonely journey through life, with only a Bible for a companion, brings him into contact with a number of other characters who, though not scarred physically, are indeed scarred psychologically. Perhaps the most memorable of these are Mr. Pedigree, a compulsive pedophile, who becomes a brilliant but sad case study of obsession, and Sophy, a young woman who thinks constantly of "the cone of black light" that extends from the back of one's head into infinity--that trail of darkness we drag behind us. Matty is clearly symbolic of the modern man who no longer knows what or who he is but can sprinkle his language with fragments of apocalyptic biblical rhetoric, even if the latter is sometimes incoherent. Other characters too reflect various facets of a world gone awry. The Cornwall-born Golding, as all readers of Lord of the Flies know, is more than a little pessimistic about humanity. This novel of several story lines does not weave together at the end as tightly as I had expected. Nevertheless, for an intensely dark but acute vision of modern man, "Darkness Visible" is recommended. And for someone like me, who grew up with the prose of the King James Bible, Matty's Bible-soaked language is at times distressing and at times downright funny.

  • arthur noble
    2019-02-03 22:51

    Golding is a master story-teller. His characters are vivid and intriguing - which he manages to achieve with the minimum of detail; more sketches or even caricatures. His plot is fabulous.Some parts of interior dialogue are too ethereal for my taste, and could have been shortened. Also the first half is too interior and therefore a bit hard going. However the second half more than compensates - you just turn page after page.I will read more of him.

  • Jim
    2019-02-04 20:37

    I picked up this book for three reason: 1) like most people I’d read Lord of the Flies as a kid but nothing else since; 2) he won the Nobel Prize so he must be able to write, and 3) in summaries one of the characters is referred to as schizoid and as I have a character in one of my novels who has Schizoid Personality Disorder I was curious to see how Golding dealt with the condition. The only thing I remember about Lord of the Flies is the death of Piggy. It’s far from being a graphic description and I think that was what stayed with me; the matter-of-factness of it all. I had no expectations about this book but I liked the way the book’s central character (I suppose we could get away with calling him ‘the hero’) is introduced: he literally walks out of a street fire during the London Blitz:What had seemed impossible and therefore unreal was now a fact and clear to them all. A figure had condensed out of the shuddering backdrop of the glare. It moved in the geometrical centre of the road which now appeared longer and wider than before. Because if it was the same size as before, then the figure was impossibly small—impossibly tiny, since children had been the first to be evacuated from that whole area; and in the mean and smashed streets there had been so much fire there was nowhere for a family to live. Nor do small children walk out of a fire that is melting lead and distorting iron. Despite being badly burned he survives:His background was probed and probed without result. For all that the most painstaking inquiries could find, he might have been born from the sheer agony of a burning city. The boy knows nothing, not even his name and for the first wee while he’s simply called ‘seven’ by the nursing staff, at least for official purposes; to his face he’s “known in successive wards as baby, darling, pet, poppet, sweetie and boo-boo.” Finally the matron decides he should have a proper name and he ends up being lumbered with Matthew for a Christain name and Septimus for a middle name. His surname’s a bit of a blur—Windrap, Windwood, Windgrove, Windrave, Windgraff (in the last pages the omniscient narrator finally settles on Windrove)—but mostly everyone calls him Matty apart from at school where he was Baldy Windup because, needless to say, he doesn’t escape without some disfigurement:The blasting of his left side had given him some contraction of the sinews that growth had not yet redressed, so he limped. He had hair on the right side of his skull but the left side was a ghastly white, which seemed so unchildlike it was an invitation by its appearance of baldness to discount his childishness and treat him as an adult who was being stubborn or just silly. For the first part of the novel we follow him as he’s sent to a Catholic school and then through a succession of menial jobs, see him spend a few years in Australia and finally return to England where he finally settles as a handyman at Wandicott School whose pupils include the sons of royals and oil sheiks. As you might imagine he’s a quiet type and keeps himself to himself. There’s really nothing extraordinary about him other than the fact he always seems to land on his feet. Oh, and he sees… let’s just go with spirit creatures; one in red and one in blue at first, benevolent entities; later green, purple and black “evil spirts” appear.The second part of the novel follows a girl this time, a twin, Sophy, from the age of ten until young adulthood. If Matty’s the hero of the piece then Sophy’s the villainess. Nowhere in the book does Golding use the word ‘schizoid’ and I’d quite forgotten by the time I started the book to look out for her. Now I’m writing these notes I find myself thinking, Eh?I see her as more of a sociopath but that’s the problem with manmade terms for complex states of minds; there’s so much scope for overlap. She has issues let’s put it that way, especially daddy issues. She doesn’t see spirit creatures although, apparently (according to Matty’s diary), they informed him, “Many years ago we called her before us but she did not come.”In the third part of the novel all the players—and not merely Matty and Sophy—come together. Sophy has an evil plan and it’s up to Maddy to thwart it. Needless to say the book’s crammed full of biblical nods and allusions that’ll probably go over most people’s heads, references to things like meat offerings, wave offerings, heave offerings and burnt offerings are things that even regular churchgoers will need to look up. The significant one, of course, is the burnt offering—which is where the world ‘holocaust’ comes from—because the sacrifice has to be completely consumed by fire. Seven, in the Bible, is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It, at first at least, seemed like an odd number to be assigned to Matty but, clearly, Golding hasn’t picked it at random; Matthew Chapter 7 is a distinct possibility (twenty-nine verses to pick from and two with the word ‘wind’ in them). Far too big a topic to discuss here but Jonathon Penny’s essay ‘“SIT MIHI FAS AUDITA LOQUI”: Darkness Visible as and Revelation’ is well worth a read.Often Matty’s described by reference to his colouration—dark on one side, light on the other (“[t]he man … had had a skin graft that covered most of the left side of his face”)—but then so are the twins: when Sophy looks at her sister she sees “a beautiful young girl—no, not beautiful with her smoke-grey hair afloat, her thin, no slim body, her face that could be seen through—she was not just beautiful. She was stunning” but when she looks at herself in the mirror she sees her beauty “was not like Toni’s beauty but it was alright. It was dark of course, and not to be seen through, not transparent, but regular, pretty, oh God, healthy, outdoor, winning, inviting…”So, is Matty the sacrificial lamb and Sophy the antichrist? Hardly. If there’s anything Christlike about Matty it’s the fact that his human side keeps trying to assert itself and Sophy is more spoiled brat that evil incarnate. If you want to read this as a straightforward religious allegory you’ll fall flat—Golding refused to discuss the book. He said, “[T]he more I have been pressed, the more stubborn my refusal has become” (shades of Beckett there) although in a letter to a friend he let slip that he intended Matty to be seen as a “saint”—but the book does have a central theme to do with the loss of love and its consequences; Matty pines after his teacher believing him to have been (or, at least, had the potential to be) his one true friend; Sophy regrets the distance that has grown between her and her father; Pedigree, the teacher, never recovers from the loss of Henderson. Everyone in the book feels incomplete, as if they don’t quite make sense on their own. Interestingly Golding has said, in a BBC interview way back in 1959, “a saint isn’t just a scapegoat, a saint is somebody who in the last analysis voluntarily embraces his fate” and this dovetails with Philip Redpath’s description of Sophy, in his book William Golding: A Structural Reading of his Fiction, as “a scapegoat, a used person, her rôle in the novel being to organise the physical circumstances in the universe that will allow Matty to fulfil his shamanic rôle in the spiritual world.”The title, presumably a reference to Milton’s Paradise Lost, does make us wonder about the true nature of Matty. Could he possibly be an angel? In his notes for the book Golding wondered himself if, perhaps, Matty might be a seraph. That doesn’t mean he is but it does give us some idea where Golding’s mind was although at that time he was settled on Here Be Monsters as a title; it was the Faber Book Committee than preferred the alternative title of Darkness Visible. It’s a better title but possibly not the best possible; titles are such a bugger. Throughout the book Matty’s seeking to give his life purpose. Why was he saved from the fire? To what end? Finally his ‘spirits’ tell him:The cry that went up to heaven brought you down. Now there is a great spirit that shall stand behind the being of the child you are guarding. That is what you are for. If he’s been brought down from heaven then why didn’t he know about his past? My guess—although Golding is perfectly within his rights to make up the rules as he goes along—is that in the same way Jesus didn’t have the heavens opened for him until his baptism likewise Matty had to stay ignorant until the appointed time. Do angels exist? Bernard F. Dick, in his study of William Golding writes:If Darkness Visible is judged solely on a narrative basis, it would be like subjecting Twelfth Night or The Tempest to the standards of literary realism. Although Golding’s novels abound in realistic detail, they are not realistic novels; one does not “believe” in a Golding novel the way one believes in, say, Madame Bovary. – p97 I’m not sure I buy that—straight after this he suggests Lord of the Flies wasn’t really set on an island—but there are most definitely a lot of levels to this book and most aren’t very pleasant. Having a pederast play a significant part in the book (and treating him sympathetically) will not be to everyone’s cup of tea but maybe he’s not quite the monster society thinks he is despite his convictions—as he says, “they thought I hurt children but I didn’t, I hurt myself”—and who’s to say a terrorist isn’t a worse criminal or a child killer?This is a dense novel. It doesn’t seem so at first. At first you think you’re just going to get a straightforward story, The Life and Times of Matty Windrove, but this is Golding, not Dickens. I didn’t particularly enjoy the second section because a) I was quite caught up in Matty’s life and wanted to see what was going to happen next and, b) Sophy is hard to like or even empathise with. The third section is where it all gets strange and I’ll admit to losing my way a bit here but I think I was just getting tired at this point and should’ve set the book aside but I really wanted to see how he tied everything together. He didn’t do a bad job and by that I mean what happens at the end could’ve happened without supernatural intervention for those who refuse to accept what Matty sees as anything other than a broken mind trying to make sense out of the world.I’m not sure why ambiguous books get praised so—perhaps because frustrated novelists get the chance to play author—but there’s much here for the reader to wonder about and decide for himself. Its weakness is its heavy reliance of biblical references which will, as I’ve said, whoosh over most people’s heads these days.

  • D. T.
    2019-01-28 20:51

    2 1/2 Stars—Somewhere in here was a story worth telling. Golding teeters up to the edge of something compelling with an intriguing tangle of symbolism, religious mania, psychopathy, mysticism, and psychological complexity only to fail in pulling everything together in a satisfying way. As it is, it's a novel of two sections that should to come together in a third, but the narrative gears set in motion grind to a halt in that third section, and the denouement comes off as an afterthought. The thickly-written prose has some indelible imagery (the naked, burned child stumbling out of the flames of a bombed-out street during the Blitz in WWII chief among them), characters that are engaging to follow, and some intriguing narrative twists that keep the plot going. But ultimately, all the momentum of the first two thirds is undone and undermined by the last third where the reader follows secondary characters that stall the narrative for too long and with very little purpose. I can't help but think this could've been something better, more satisfying, something…more…in the end, but somewhere along the way, the story got away from Golding and he couldn't put it together.

  • Adrian Peters
    2019-02-06 17:51

    I'm an admirer of Golding's work, but this one... I stopped reading 23% of the way through the ebook version, somewhere in chapter 4. Why? It's misery. Maybe it's because of the short days and long nights of winter, but I found it hard going. It isn't just that it's hard to like the main character, the people he meets are also unlikeable. The story really is unrelenting in its misery. I'll probably pick it up again. Maybe in spring when there is at least something warm in the world around the story. Strange, because I couldn't put 'Lord of the Flies' down and I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Inheritors' and 'The Spire'. Golding's theme is obvious: human nature. I think the title 'Darkness Visible' may express his desire to show the deepest instinctive reactions of the majority of people to those who, although deserving compassion, have horrific injuries.

  • Nataly Dybens
    2019-02-17 23:04

    Started this book and carried it with me through a vegas trip! Also happened to re-watch the movie Australia during the trip as it was on the tube. A little confusing though gripping..more so than some sons and lovers by dh lawrence, gripping that is. confusing in the long very descriptive and secret writing that it employs at many times; it is fun to read aloud. Many stories converge but not in as such a cliche way because of the mysticism and confusion and darkness of it all..i guess that's why it's it what it it.. darkness visible ?

  • Andreea Ursu-Listeveanu
    2019-02-01 17:50

    Oh, this was quite an unpleasant read. I was stubborn to read it til the end just to see what that end could be, hoping somehow I will find something, anything to like at this book. Nothing whatsoever. Too dark for my taste, too many issues to deal with: pedophilia, terrorism, spirituality, crime, desire to kill, good girls gone bad. I could say Golding's writing was good, but not even this made it bearable. The worst book of 2016.

  • Simon
    2019-02-08 16:49

    “I’ve lived astonished and astonished I’ll die”

  • Andy Todd
    2019-02-07 14:58

    A dark mystery told with skill. Golding knows how to bring characters to life.

  • Heidi
    2019-01-30 19:39

    Beautifully written. A shocking exploration of good and evil.

  • Marius Gabriel
    2019-02-21 21:34

    It seems blasphemous to give this book anything less than five stars. It's a very important novel by a very important author, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is, incidentally, one of the writers I love best. But Time has a way of changing one's opinions.I've read this book four times over the 36 years since it was published, and on this last re-reading it struck me more forcefully than ever that while that part of the novel dealing with Matty Windrove is among the best fiction ever written, the other half -- dealing with the twins Sophie and Toni, and the friends Sim and Edwin -- is like bad John le Carré.I've never read anything more gripping and mysterious than the Matty sections of the book, in particular the prolonged adventures in Australia. The 1970s in general were years of despair for western culture. We faced not only the almost daily shock of international terrorism, horrible acts committed by apparently soulless young people, but our artistic heritage seemed to have petered out. The arts had no answer to the imminent disintegration of our values. In literature, it was the advent of magical realism, pioneered by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, that pointed a way forward -- and Golding's work formed an important part of the movement.But the theme of the perverted sisters, the terrorism, the ex-soldiers and so forth, is not well-done. Golding makes monsters of his villains. There were real and all-too-horrible roots of 1970s violence -- outrage against American foreign policy in general and the Vietnam War in particular, against the poverty of the Third World, against the treatment of the Palestinians, against the widespread corruption so visible throughout Europe. Golding has his terrorists simply born evil. As a result, this theme is distinctly inferior to Le Carré, who at least knew what he was talking about. The Honorable Schoolboy was published in 1977, two years before Darkness Visible, and clearly had an influence of some kind on the final stages of Golding's novel, which had been incubating for almost a quarter of a century in Golding's mind. The influence was not a good one, taking Golding out of the metaphysical realm, where he was incomparable, and into the realm of the spy novel, where he floundered.It seems to me that Golding betrayed the original scope of the novel, an exploration of mysticism and asceticism, by lowering it in the second half to the level of popular entertainment. The marriage between the magical Matty material and the Greenfield material is so uneasy that the book almost falls into two pieces in your hands -- and even the most enthusiastic readers have struggled to reconcile the halves.It remains a magnificent, majestic novel, which everybody should read. But like its protagonist Matty, it's a work half-glorious, half-marred.

  • Ian
    2019-02-13 16:03

    Hellfire is a potent symbol and William Golding makes liberal use of it in his brooding and pessimistic 1979 masterpiece Darkness Visible. As a child Matty Septimus Windgrove (or Windrove, or Windrake--the reader is never offered a solution to the mystery of his name) emerges disfigured from a burning building during the London Blitz and responds to the scars and markings he is left with by withdrawing from the society that rejects him for being physically unappealing. At school he unintentionally exposes Mr. Pedigree, the only teacher who pretends to tolerate him, as a pederast. Mr. Pedigree loses his position and guilt for being the cause of this plagues Matty for the rest of his days. In adulthood he embarks on a quasi-spiritual quest (which takes him to Australia and then back to England) for meaning—or something like it—a quest that consumes the remainder of his life. Matty's inept and largely ineffectual goodness finds its moral antithesis in the Stanhope twins, Toni and Sophy. These two begin life as deceptively angelic little girls who grow up to become seductively attractive young women, and who respond to their inauspicious upbringing (absent mother, neglectful philandering father) by embracing evil. Toni leaves home to take up a career as a political terrorist. Sophy flees a mundane existence for crime, starting out in desultory fashion as a prostitute before graduating to petty larceny and then hatching a scheme to kidnap a boy whose wealthy parents will surely pay a king's ransom to get him back. Unfortunately, the men she enlists to help carry off the plan are clods and everything goes awry, foiled in part by Matty, whose life ends as it began: in flames. Golding's characters are never in a position to clearly articulate or even reflect upon what they are seeking. In a series of exquisitely cryptic journal entries Matty writes about beings (spirits?) that visit him, but how they influence him and the things he does is unclear. Sophy does not seem necessarily determined to become a criminal; crime is simply a default response to the intolerable boredom that everyday life inflicts upon her. In the end, Darkness Visible comes across as an indictment, but of what exactly? Golding judges neither his characters nor their actions. Mr. Pedigree, though loathsome, is depicted as a pathetic victim of perverse impulses that nature has made it impossible for him to resist. He does not want to be this way, but since he can't do anything about it he might as well make the most of it. The same could be said of Matty and Sophy. Each responds to the life they are given in the only way they know how. But is the reader expected to admire Matty’s heroism and condemn Sophy’s wickedness? In the psychologically complex and morally ambiguous world that William Golding conjures up in this novel, that seems far too simple-minded a response.

  • Grady Ormsby
    2019-02-12 17:35

    Nobel Laureate William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is perhaps the most featured novel in literature classes in high schools and universities around the English-speaking world. Otherwise, Golding seems to be overlooked and neglected. Yet he is no one-hit-wonder. I highly recommend Pincher Martin, The Spire and The Inheritors. The latest of his works that I’ve read is Darkness Visible (1979). The title refers to Milton’s evocation of hell in Paradise Lost: "No light, but rather darkness visible" and certainly there is large portion of darkness in this complex study of outré personalities. The first section of the novel is called “Matty” and focuses on a child born of fire, an orphan survivor of the London blitz of WWII. Disfigured as if he had two faces, alone and unloved, Matty is a ward of the state brought up in a Catholic boarding school. After an encounter with a pederast school master, Matty grows up with no understanding of normal relationships. Shunned by his schoolmates because of his appearance, his human contacts have been institutional rather than personal. He becomes an asocial being, kind and selfless, with an aura of mystery and a peculiar spirituality. He is even considered by some to be a saintly figure. The second section of the novel is entitled “Sophy.” Sophy is a twin not only by birth but also by the schizoid split of her personality. She focuses on entropy not as a scientific cosmological theory but as a nihilistic philosophical approach to life. Since everything is all winding down, ultimately nothing matters to Sophy. Like Matty she is asocial, seemingly unable to meaningfully connect with anyone or anything. The third section of the novel brings Matty and Sophy together in a rather tangential series of circumstances. Their intersection is explosive and devastating. With a recurring theme of madness Darkness Visible is a dark and complex struggle between good and evil. Golding’s writing is rich with a wide array of allusions and symbolic texturing. He is a 1983 Nobel Laureate cited “for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the word today.”

  • Victoria Roe
    2019-01-29 14:45

    All the way through this book I wasn't sure what to make of it and I'm still not even now I've finished and have had some time to think about it.I started the book with a vague sense of foreboding, due in no small part to suffering through a class reading of Lord of The Flies at 13 and really not enjoying the experience. I was surprised that this book felt so much more accessible all the way through, but I struggle to know if that's due to the fact I'm considerably older or that Darkness Visible is just an easier read than Lord of the Flies.Certainly in places it didn't feel like an easier read, due in part to the subject matter covered (particularly Mr Pedigree which made me wince frequently) but also to the way it was written. I found exchanges between Sophy and Gerry particularly difficult to keep track of; long sections where it was just speech got quite confusing and I had to backtrack frequently to understand which voice was which. I actually found Matty's story easier to read. Despite the confusing nature of his experiences, I felt that the reader was supposed to be confused and unsure of what was going on, much like Matty. Knowing this meant I could just read, without being concerned about whether I was missing things. I didn't feel this way about the final few chapters or Sophy's story so reading those parts felt cumbersome compared to the first section.I really wasn't sure about the end. The first feeling I had was "I'm going to have to google this to figure out what happened" which for me always results in a feeling of dissatisfaction with the story. The writing throughout was very measured with some particularly descriptive sections. I felt the most powerful parts of the book were those which guided the reader into understanding the main plot points but allowed them to experience the story in a personal way; Matty's diary in particular was a highlight here.I'm not in a rush to read this any time soon but I would recommend this to anyone that likes a challenging read.

  • Jack Chapman
    2019-02-08 16:45

    Golding's 1979 offering (8 years after his previous novel) is powerfully and poetically written. Scenes such as the opening in the London Blitz are compellingly described. The story has a strangeness that comes from a finely honed talent for manipulating words and images (I'd stop just short of calling him a genius though of course many think he is).And yet - the insights he displays seem more literary than human. The characters, however elegantly drawn, simply don't come alive to me. They never strike me as real enough to engage any curiosity about their lives because I'm always aware they are simply clever words on paper. Plodding on, I can find no answer to the question why should I be interested in this story? On the other hand perhaps the philosophical subtext is important enough to keep trying. The world these cyphers move through is a bleak one. Other reviewers have commented on the difficulty of finding any underlying meaning - and I suspect there is none. Golding is telling us the world is essentially accidental, certainly without any meaning imposed by the God of Matty's Bible. But it's a narrow view, a one-sided debate, and not profoundly original.As an exercise in the craft of pure writing, Darkness Visible is perhaps up there with the modern greats (lower ranks). But that's about all to recommend it. I remember the older generation of my family, brought up in a culture where practical rather than intellectual skills were the vital ones, dismissing certain individuals as being "too clever by half". But to be fair to William Golding I'd say in this book he's only too clever by a quarter.

  • Lester
    2019-02-09 20:44

    I bought this book as it was one of the works of Golding which I had neer come across, and I do love his writing - it brings so much alive. But I do not know if I made a mistake here. The imagery and writing is powerful, but I was rather confused as to the untimate goal of the book. It tells the story of a number of intertwining lives, but because of the confused nature of the 'coincidental' intertwinings, as well as the disproportionate length of time given to two of the major characters, I was not really impressed, and frankly rather bored.Clearly, the book goes through a number of taboo subjects of the time. What for the first half of the book was a treatise on how baldy the world treats outsiders, pushing them to extremes of behaivour (religious extremes in this case) eventually was subsumed by the horrors of paedophilia and the tension of suppressed homosexuality. Goldings usualy language is able to shock and put the reader right into the situation - this would have been even more stark in the day it was written. But I could not wait to get to the end so that I could move on. Not one I would recommend, despite the writing. His other works are miles advanced in comparison.

  • David B
    2019-02-24 17:04

    A man disfigured as a boy in the fires of WWII London and a beautiful young woman represent polar opposites of the spiritual spectrum, the first a literal-minded social outcast who believes himself to be in communion with holy spirits and undergoes great sacrifice in order to do their bidding and the second a believer in chaotic chance who exploits herself and others in order to satisfy her need for autonomy.William Golding is on a serious mission here. He is concerned with questions of judgment, morality, community, and spirituality, but he denies the possibility of easy answers. The result is a dense novel, generally difficult, sometimes entertaining, written in prose that I found to be needlessly verbose. It is an interesting book, but I did not find the main characters to be convincing as individuals so much as vehicles for the author's explorations of the extremes of human nature. Some of the secondary characters, particularly the bookseller Sim Goodchild and the pedophile Mr. Pedigree, were more compelling. That they figure prominently in the conclusion is to the novel's credit.

  • David Bonesteel
    2019-02-17 18:52

    A man disfigured as a boy in the fires of WWII London and a beautiful young woman represent polar opposites of the spiritual spectrum, the first a literal-minded social outcast who believes himself to be in communion with holy spirits and undergoes great sacrifice in order to do their bidding and the second a believer in chaotic chance who exploits herself and others in order to satisfy her need for autonomy.William Golding is on a serious mission here. He is concerned with questions of judgment, morality, community, and spirituality, but he denies the possibility of easy answers. The result is a dense novel, generally difficult, sometimes entertaining, written in prose that I found to be needlessly verbose. It is an interesting book, but I did not find the main characters to be convincing as individuals so much as vehicles for the author's explorations of the extremes of human nature. Some of the secondary characters, particularly the bookseller Sim Goodchild and the pedophile Mr. Pedigree, were more compelling. That they figure prominently in the conclusion is to the novel's credit.

  • Jennie
    2019-02-05 21:37

    A dense read from the very first page, "Darkness Visible" is overburdened with biblical themes, dark plots, despicable characters, and disturbing ideas. The opening scene of the London bombings during WWII once again revisits the concept of 'Hell on Earth' as seen in many of William Golding's earlier works.In many ways Matty is to be seen as an angel of the Lord and a demon from Hell as the intricacies of plot show moments of omnipotent clarity and a mind-numbing madness. The story is so thoroughly laced with allusion that almost every scene is both overly detailed while remaining uncomfortably vague. The motives of the characters and the events of the story are upsetting, yet as the characters' plans become more grotesque, the reader develops a stronger sense of empathy in their sickness similar to that of Shakespeare's Macbeth. "Darkness Visible" studies the human condition from a place unnaturally close to that of madness as reader is forced to watch sickness in its true form and be helpless to stop it. Although the story is not an enjoyable read, "Darkness Visible" unblinkingly and uncensored examines good and evil, right and wrong, truth and fiction.

  • Joemmama
    2019-02-02 19:38

    This is a tiny book, but it is one of the most powerful descriptions of depression I have ever read. "A Memoir of Madness" is the perfect subtitle for this book.In October of 1985, Styron is in Paris to accept an award, when he realizes he is plunging into a deep, dark depression. He ends up hospitalized, and with the help of many professionals, he regains his sanity.With the use of actual suicides, from Randall Jarrett, the poet, to Abbie Hoffman, he examines the causes and the effect it has on the mind. The despair that grows deeper with each hour, until it seems there is no end to it.Styron stopped drinking, and blamed his rapid descent into the deep dark hole of depression on this fact.As one who has suffered and battled with depression, I fully understood his despair, and the thoughts that tormented him. I applauded his recovery, and was cheered by the thought that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (and it's not the oncoming train).I received this from Net Galley for review. Thank you!

  • Katie Lynn
    2019-01-26 15:42

    This was an accidental read of sorts; thought I was purchasing a book of a similar title. I didn't find the book as dark and evil as some reviewers, but maybe that says more about me than the book. :(I found myself lost a lot in the story, not IN the story, but FROM the story... "what is going on?!" But not intrigued enough to really explore it and figure it out. I suppose it can be said that it examines the inner (self) and outer darkness (society, family, environment), but it seemed a bit one-dimensional on that count to me. In fact, I think the characters were a bit flat as well. At least the leading characters; the supporting roles seemed more developed. odd. just odd.

  • Mary
    2019-02-07 19:42

    So this is the last of the whole inherent-blackness-of-the-human-soul reading list I've inadvertently embarked upon lately. I don't know what I was expecting, picking up a book that takes its title from Milton's famously oxymoronic description of hellfire. Maybe I need to read, you know, The Devil Wears Prada, or something. I'm giving myself the heebie jeebies over here. Or maybe I'll just re-read Jimmy Corrigan again while I listen to Xiu Xiu on repeat and induce some sort of angsty catatonia. Onward to the center of the sun!