#1: Lord of the Flies (1954), by William Golding

“They were savages it was true; but they were human.”

I thought I’d kick off the Time 100 Challenge by wading into the small end of the pool, and William Golding’s 1954 curriculum standard Lord of the Flies certainly fits the bill (the classic edition pictured below that most people my age are familiar with weighs in at 202 pages). It also remedied a serious reading gap, as none of my teachers ever assigned it to me as a teenager.

Curiously, though, I’d never felt a strong urge to pull this off the shelf until now. I think one reason may be that this novel, like several other titles on the Time 100 list, arrives in the 21st-century reader’s hands almost pre-read — so completely have its themes seeped into popular culture that even if you haven’t read it you feel like you have.  Lord of the Flies, that’s the one about the kids marooned on an island, right? They try to create a civilization but turn on each other instead. Ralph, Piggy, Simon, Jack: iconic, archetypal characters all, and the idea that young boys left to their own devices will ultimately turn tribal and violent is by now an accepted behavioral trope. What could a fresh reading bring to the table at this point?

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