Still chuckling about how the novel Lord of the Flies was specifically a critique of BRITISH imperialism and the violence that society instilled from childhood on, and has nothing to do with so-called "human nature."

When a group of real-life Tongan teenagers were stranded on an island and had to fend for themselves in a very similar scenario, what did they do? They built houses, a badminton court, and a gym, planted gardens, set up a rotating watch for passing ships, and peacefully resolved disputes until they were rescued 15 months later. Violent human nature my ass.

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

Lord of the Flies started out as essentially a hatefic of an earlier and rightfully long-forgotten novel called The Coral Island, where upper-class British schoolboys are stranded on an island and proceed to have a jolly adventure in perfect harmony with each other, displaying superior "intellect" and "civilization" in contrast to violent and "primitive" Polynesian Indigenous islanders.

William Golding was mad at this piece of racist pro-imperialist propaganda and, drawing from his experiences as both a Navy sailor and a teacher, wrote a scathing counter-story of what would ACTUALLY happen if a bunch of British schoolboys were stranded on an island. He may have called it "human nature" but everything about the story's and author's background says it's specifically British, and a reaction to the smug superiority of the British system displayed in stories like The Coral Island.

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@ljwrites his foreword to the audiobook is wonderful

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@frustratedantiquarian Golding's foreword? What does it say?

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

This is how I was taught it, and it blows my mind that people still don't know this???

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@Cyborgneticz Yeah this just mainstream scholarship, it's not some obscure out-of-the-way stuff and yet.

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@ljwrites @Cyborgneticz @ljwrites Maybe Rutger Bregman needed the misunderstanding to write his piece (it's whan Michael Pollan calls a 'conceit' maybe?) or just that mainstream scholarship doesn't influence a lot of western culture:
> western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels..

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@ljwrites a real lesson in do not be subtle, say what exactly you mean!

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@unfitmisfit So many misinterpretations could have been avoided this way ugh.

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@unfitmisfit @ljwrites
> ... the officer says, “that a pack of British boys would have been able to put up a better show than that.” At this, Ralph bursts into tears. “Ralph wept for the end of innocence,” we read, and for “the darkness of man’s heart”.
Was it just Ralph, or Golding too, on 'man's heart'? Is it the difference between Tongans and British? or Catholic school rebels and good prep school kids?

Lord of the Flies origin story, racism & imperialism mention 

@ljwrites The reality is that if it isn't human nature to cooperate, then it's definitely human nature to realize that cooperation will leave you better off than the alternative. Have you heard of the Acali Raft? Wendigoon did a great video on it, but tl;dw misanthropic researcher tries to get people to eat each other and fails spectacularly.

@ljwrites British nursery rhymes absolutely fuck me up, every time i stop for three seconds and think about their lyrics, or research them

@meena @ljwrites having read lots of british novels, both ”classics” and modern, i've unavoidably arrived at the conclusion that the british society is first and foremost based on sadism.

@Stoori @ljwrites I mean stuff like:

I'll be back in the morning with my bill.

Having been born in Socialist Jugoslavija, and grown up in Social Austria, that song just feels… so dystopian…

@meena tbf a lot of so-called children's literature is unsettling as hell xD


Read that story in "Human Kind" by Rutger Bregman. It's a really good book.

@ljwrites Stuff like this is why i think a lot of the literature they have you read in school is kind of lost on people? because without the context you get entirely different messages

@Hearth What's missing is often awareness of structural bias and violence--and that is by design. If I were to teach Lord of the Flies I'd show students how specifically British and "European/Western" it is by comparing with passages from The Coral Island, drawing attention to specific cultural cues and relating them back to Golding's background in education and the military, and pointing out where the story draws inspiration from Greek and Roman myth.

Then I'd have them watch a documentary about the Tongan teenagers who were shipwrecked on 'Ata, including the parts where they talk about how they resolved disputes and how a cultural ethos of mutual caring and community helped them survive over a year stranded. That will hopefully help students think more critically about "human nature" and "civilization/barbarism" claims made about Lord of the Flies and in general.

@Hearth @ljwrites Kinda validates something I’ve been saying since I was in high school and didn’t know shit: Schools routinely ruin books by assigning them to be read.

@benhamill @ljwrites I honestly think we (as a kid) found more of the literary merit they were trying to teach us to see in video games than we did in the books they assigned us to read

(that could be down to our taste in video games though. stuff like tales of symphonia and final fantasy 9, at the time)

@Hearth @benhamill Makes perfect sense, video games are contemporary works with a context that is known and meaningful to us. There's often a ton of thought that goes into the themes and story beats, with that participatory and interactive aspect to heighten engagement. I honestly think games should be a bigger part of literature and reading/media classes--I think kids would have some really amazing discussions while learning and thinking about critical media consumption.

@ljwrites @benhamill i agree entirely, though i worry what the effect might be of having them as required reading

@Hearth @ljwrites At least here, I feel like teachers’ lack of input on the reading lists (or playing lists?) is a big contributing factor. If classes were “interact with this thing and then discuss what you thought with the teacher and your peers” I think it would be a lot better. But I think it requires more engagement with the work from teachers (who, frankly, aren’t paid enough for that shit) and more freedom for them.

@ljwrites And this is very fitting for the strand of thought unifying various historical manifestations of the Anglo way:

Human rights bad, Rights of the Englishman good.

Universal human goodness bad, Englishmen's Privileges good.

@ljwrites Not so much a criticism of imperalism as just a really terrible book.

@ljwrites It's nothing but badly written misanthropy. All sorts of things don't add up (eg Piggy is short-sighted, so his glasses would have diverging lenses - you couldn't light a fire with them). The climax relies on diabolus ex machina, and the ending follows it up with deus ex machina. I did a demolition job on the wretched book in my GCSE English Literature exam and got an A.

@PeteBleackley Good for you. I wasn't particularly trying to say it's a good book, though (I haven't read it so I can't say), only that from its authorial intent/background it doesn't say anything about "human nature" as people try to claim.

@ljwrites the authorial intent, as far as I can make out, is a sadistic English teacher who hated his pupils giving other sadistic English teachers something to torture their pupils with.

@PeteBleackley while his dislike of The Coral Island, which he was writing in response to, shows that he just hated schoolboys having a good time right?

@ljwrites Possibly. Anyway, I had to read it at school, and if you haven't, I would strongly advise you to spare yourself the misery

@PeteBleackley Wasn't even planning to, like oh my God why are you so obsessed with hating this book enough to rant in strangers' mentions, annoying internet person! Go away and be unpleasant elsewhere.

@ljwrites It was a set text for an exam, so I had no choice but to slog through a book I hated. That still sets me off decades later.

Thank goodness that the other set text was Twelfth Night.

@PeteBleackley And someone dared to talk on the internet about it, so you decided they deserved to be miserable, too. Set up a filter or just block/mute or something. Like dude.

@ljwrites I know right? But hey, William Golding was a depressed veteran practically an e-girl that drank too much monster and decided to write a novel.

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