05 February 2022

The Spire

The Spire by William Golding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not sure what to say about this book, except that it reminded me a bit of Malone Dies, which I re-read last year. 

I kept thinking I was missing something, and went back to read certain bits, and then back to the beginning to see if I could pin it down, but I haven't been able to so far. 

One of my first impressions, when I started reading it, was that it was a kind of parable for the Covid pandemic. The builders kept warning the dead, ?Jocelin, that it was not possible to build such a spire on such shaky foundations, but he urged them to go ahead anyway. And I thought of Donald Trump in the USA, telling people that it wasn't serious, and that anyway a vaccine would soon be developed that would solve the problem, and when the vaccine was developed, many of his supporters refused to take it. It seemed to be that kind of folly. 

Experts on writing fiction (often self-proclaimed experts) warn against including too much of the backstory in a novel -- get on with the action. But reading The Spire I keep wishing for more of the backstory. Jocelin thinks about his angel, his demon, a witch and other things, as if the author expects readers to be familiar with the background, background that I seem to have missed on my first reading, and am still missing in the second.

Eventually there is some kind of commission of inquiry, and they tell him that he can go back to the deanery, where he goes, apparently to die. Other than that, we are not told their findings. Is he still dean, or has he been replaced? But he goes to his room, like in Malone Dies, but keeps getting up and wandering around, and eventually gets taken back to bed to die. Like Malone.  

What have I missed?

View all my reviews

1 comment:

Rethabile said...

"One of my first impressions, when I started reading it, was that it was a kind of parable for the Covid pandemic."

I haven't read the book, but this, plus your 3 out of 5 'mark', might tip the scales. 3/4/5 are enough for me to want to read a book.


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