Rings and Flies- Lord of the Flies.pdf - Rings and Flies Tolkien and Golding Lords of \u201954 Nick Groom Princess Margaret\u2019s husband Anthony

Rings and Flies- Lord of the Flies.pdf - Rings and Flies...

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175 Rings and Flies: Tolkien and Golding, Lords of ’54 Rings and Flies: Tolkien and Golding, Lords of ’54 Nick Groom Princess Margaret’s husband, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, allegedly once told William Golding how much he admired his book The Lord of the Rings (Morrison). This foolish (if well-meaning) error got me thinking: Apart from having similar titles, are there further connections between the two works? Both Golding and Tolkien were comparatively late writers, with no major creative work published until they were in their forties. The Fellowship of the Ring (the first volume of The Lord of the Rings ) was published on July 29, 1954; it was described by C. S. Lewis as “lightning from a clear sky … the conquest of new territory” (Carpenter 222). Lord of the Flies was published on September 17, 1954; it in turn was described by C. S. Lewis as a “brilliant success” (qtd. in Carey 165). Tolkien’s next volume, The Two Towers , appeared the same year on November 11, neatly sandwiching Lord of the Flies ; The Return of the King appeared a little short of twelve months later, delayed by its voluminous appendices (October 20, 1955). Both books won international acclaim. In 1957, Tolkien was awarded the International Fantasy Award for The Lord of the Rings ; the runner-up was The Death of Grass by John Christopher [Samuel Youd] and third place was shared between Frank Herbert’s Dragon in the Sea and— Lord of the Flies (Hammond and Scull 511). In particular, both Lord books became favorites on American campuses: Lord of the Flies was christened “Lord of the Campus” by Time Magazine in 1962, until it was eventually breathlessly reported that “At Yale the [ Lord of the Rings ] trilogy is selling faster than William Golding’s Lord of the Flies at its crest. At Harvard it is outpacing J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye ” (qtd. in Carpenter 230; see also Ripp). Both quickly inspired interest from filmmakers— Lord
176 Critical Insights of the Flies with notably more success at the time than The Lord of the Rings . Both Tolkien and Golding were war veterans—Tolkien having gone “over the top” at the Somme with the Lancashire Fusiliers in the First World War, Golding hunting the Bismarck and supporting the D-Day beaches in the Second World War. Such links have led Tom Shippey to argue that Tolkien and Golding—along with C. S. Lewis, George Orwell, and Kurt Vonnegut—could be considered as a group of “ traumatized authors”: authors who have first-hand experience of some of the most horrific excesses of the twentieth century. These writers were bone-deep convinced that they had come into contact with something irrevocably evil. They also … felt that the explanations for this which they were given by the official organs of their culture were hopelessly inadequate, out of date, at best irrelevant, at worst part of the evil itself. ( J. R. R. Tolkien , p. xxx) 1 Interestingly, when Shippey was working on his first study of Tolkien, The Road to Middle-Earth , he argued against contextualizing Tolkien as a postwar writer, noting in a review that the

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