Wednesday, May 15, 2019

THE SPIRE


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The Spire, William Golding, Harcourt Brace & World, 1964, 215 pp
 
Imagine my surprise when I started William Golding's 1964 novel The Spire and found myself in a fictional Salisbury cathedral. I have read four of Golding's novels, including his most famous Lord of the Flies, but never have I found a priest among his protagonists.
 
Dean Jocelin, the head priest, has a vision as well as an obsession to have a 404 foot high spire built onto his cathedral. He feels it will honor God and draw parishioners from miles around. He forces his will upon his architect, the workers and the townspeople. If he gets it built it will also, as the reader gradually learns, bring glory to himself.

In the medieval times of the novel's setting, such spires were being built onto churches across Europe, advancing architecture by leaps and bounds. New techniques had to be developed to support such height and weight. But Dean Jocelin's church has shaky foundations which cause the rising walls to shriek and wave in the wind while driving the architect/chief builder to despair as he tries to carry out the project.

It turns out this novel is a descent into madness tale. I love those! Thus it fits Golding's usual theme about man's will versus hardship and tragedy. The gothic setting, certain dark secrets carried by the priest, and the author's keen insights into human psychology made the book great for me.

However, once again I was confronted with stream-of-consciousness passages, multiple narrators, and as an additional touch, plenty of allegory, so it was a challenging read as well. Golding is the fourth Nobel Prize winning author I have read this year so far. His writing is a feat as amazing as the spire itself.

19 comments:

  1. I have not yet read Golding. I need to read Lord of the Flies. This one also sounds interesting and good. Stream of Consciousness and other unconventional writing styles can be challenging. However, I generally enjoy them.

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    1. Golding is amazing. He holds nothing back. I like all those things too!

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  2. Yeah I'm okay with descent into madness tales. I'm trying to think what the last one I read was .... drawing a blank ... but maybe Shutter Island. Ha.

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    1. Shutter Island. Is that by...can't think of his name. I think I saw the movie!

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  3. I read Lord of the Flies years ago, but have never thought about looking for any of Golding's other books. This one sounds fascinating!

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    1. It is! I don't know why only Lord of the Flies got so popular. All his books are just as good.

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  4. I've only read his most famous work, also, but based on your review, it seems I need to look - and read - further.

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    1. I think you would not be sorry if you did.

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  5. Your mentioning of"descent into madness" makes me more curious Judy.

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  6. I have yet to read anything by William Golding and am only away of his famous novel The Lord of the Flies. The Spire sounds like quite a read... although "stream-of-consciousness passages, multiple narrators, and as an additional touch, plenty of allegory" have me a little intimidated by this read.

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    1. I understand! None of his books are easy but they do give insight into human beings.

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  7. I've never read a anything other than The Lord of the Flies by this author but this one sounds good.

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  8. When Mom and I were in the UK in 2009, one of our day trips was supposed to take us to Salisbury, in addition to Stonehenge and Bath. Salisbury was unexpectedly closed, and we went to Windsor instead - which was also largely closed because QEII just happened to be knighting people that day...I was so looking forward to Salisbury to see their copy of Magna Carta!

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    1. I can imagine your disappointment.

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  9. As you know, I have a thing for churches, priests, and religious themes. I would love to read this novel.

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