Monday, January 07, 2008

Rites of Passage - post I

At the weekend The Times book section listed the top 50 post-war British Authors. It was a pretty comprehensive list and each author had a recommended text. In third place was William Golding and the little summary recommended his To The Ends of the Earth: A Sea Trilogy. I have had the trilogy on the shelf for ages and never got round to reading it. Well that is not quite fair. When it was made into a television series it rather put me off but now that is a distant memory and with the Times prompting it seemed a good time to tuck into the first book.

The idea of the text is that it is a diary being written by a man heading off to Australia for three or four years in service of the British Empire for consumption by his sponsor His Lordship. The first 100 pages at times seem like a farce as the unsuspecting narrator manages to upset the captain, insult one of the other female passengers and falls victim to the money making schemes of the man charged to look after him.

But there starts to be some sort of success and he soon starts to make friendships and ends up being the olive branch that brings back into circulation the vicar who has been banned by the captain. He also has an encounter with the best looking female on board but no sooner having had a tryst in his cabin with her he starts to regret it.

The world of the ship is alien to him and no matter how much he walks about it and requests tours of below decks he can only see it through land based eyes. The idea of segregated society and Sunday services marks him out as someone alien to the world of the seas rather than the reformer he prefers to see himself as.

More tomorrow…

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