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This review is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

UNSUPPORTED CONVICTION William Golding, The Hot Gates, A Moving Target, The Paper Men (Faber and Faber) £2.95, £2.95 and £7.95
Mark Kinkead-Weekes and Ian Gregor, William Golding: A Critical Study (Faber) £3.50

Now available in paperback, the occasional writings in these two collections are unmistakably Golding's, although they do not come from the same depth of engagement as his novels. The tone is unpent and jokey, less from affability than to keep a distance - a proper distance, one may say: he returns over and again to the necessary propriety of respect for individuals, just as the blind, will-driven characters of his fiction flout that necessity over and again. This includes respect for himself; he has always felt that lecturing, the most obvious form of public exposure, can slip into a confessional attitudinising that 'leads to nothing but self-disgust'.

Some of the pieces bring to mind particular novels. 'Intimate Relations' bears on the journal narration of Rites of Passage, and 'Billy the Kid', probing for the meaning of a childhood incident, might almost be a fragment from Free Fall. Others have the characteristic shape of a Golding novel, which builds up to a peripeteia that illuminates the protagonist with darkness, throwing him into a confusion which is truer than his previous clarity and passes judgement upon it. In 'Egypt from my Outside' Golding uses his diaries to tell how his trip, the culmination of a lifetime's reading and dreaming of the Pharaohs, confounded his expectations: 'Instead of voyaging to a country and enjoying it I had added unutterable complication and confusion to a simplistic picture.' The addition is summed up in one excellently rendered scene: he is shown tomb ...


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