EESE 1/2002

William Golding and the State of Nature

Hans Werner Breunig (Magdeburg)

  Avarice, ambition, cruelty, selfishness were never heard of: Cordial affection, compassion, sympathy, were the only movements with which the mind was yet acquainted. Even the punctilious distinction of mine and thine was banished from among that happy race of mortals, and carried with it the very notion of property and obligation, justice and injustice.
     This poetical fiction of the golden age is, in some respects, of a piece with the philosophical fiction of the state of nature ....

David Hume1

He [Golding] sets out simply (though what could be a greater subject?) to show us what human beings are really like - not just as husbands and wives, neighbours or lovers, at work or in pursuit of happiness (all this being the province of most fiction), but as souls or essences stripped of all earthly trappings and seen sub specie aeternitatis.

Norman Page2

Golding in his novels seems to wish to refer to a condition of mankind in which man is rid of everything acquired and is quite himself. In Pincher Martin (his third novel of 1956) this is the case with a drowning mariner. He experiences impressions of elementary simplicity - air, water, solidity - far off civilization, in loneliness, and it is only in memory that social contact with others takes place. Two other early novels by Golding deal with the problem what man may be without civilization, though these two texts use and shed light on social interaction. His most famous novel, Lord of the Flies, shows how all efforts for civilization and a republican or democratic organisation are gradually savaged by brute force exercised by blind followers of a misleading despot. In The Inheritors, however, the thoughts of a group of Neandertal men are projected in a fictitious picture in the imagination. The experience of these people and their first and fatal contact with homo sapiens is described from the perspective of the Neandertals whose helplessness the reader sympathetically regrets.

Two questions will be posed in this paper: How does Golding present man's state of nature and in what does this state differ from that of civilization? And in the second place, does the state of nature to Golding take place historically, or is it a matter purely of the imagination?

For the present purpose it is mainly The Inheritors that will be consulted. (In Golding's last and posthumously published novel The Double Tongue the historical, to wit the Oracle of Delphi, is quite identical with consciousness.)

Like with his first novel, Golding used and considerably modified another text as a basis of The Inheritors. In the case of Lord of the Flies the model was R.M. Ballantine's The Coral Island, a Victorian Robinsonade in which three British lads enthusiastically master, in a tone of drawing room conversation, the challenges and dangers threatening them from outside. The spark of ignition towards the writing of The Inheritors seems to have been given by H.G. Wells' 'The Grisly Folk', an imaginary description of Neandertal men and their way of life, much based upon the findings and conjectures of archaeologists. In Wells' text one can read that Neandertal men are hunched grey wolf-like monsters,3, and that the first humans acted in their true self-interest when they killed those Neandertal men that came too close to them for they would have eaten their children. "The Neandertalers thought the children of men fair game and pleasant eating."4 And the Neandertalers even devour their own children, and particularly their troublesome sons, Wells suggests.5 No language supposedly developed amongst them.6 For Wells it is Neandertal man, for Rousseau it is our own forefathers, who led solitary lives.

(1) The People

It must have been with uneasiness that Golding read this description by Wells. For whereas he largely sticks to the physical description of Neandertalers as given by Wells, he yet paints a more sympathetic picture of their characters. Far from cannibalism Golding's 'people' are not prepared to kill anything living. They are indeed carnivorous to complement their vegetarian diet, but wild animals, such as hyenas, must have done the killing for them. Golding's 'people' are explicitly aware of a taboo: addressing the kill they reflect: "This is bad. But a cat killed you so there is no blame."7 It is striking that the prey is here spoken to as though it was one of the 'people'. The idea the 'people' have of themselves includes all living creatures alike. 'The people' seem to experience themselves in league with all that is alive. Even snails are termed 'people': "'There are no shells by the mountains. Only shells of the little snail people. They are caves for them.'" (p 63) And yet these Neandertals not only have immediate impressions, they may also be aware of them and of thought. Fa, one of their initially three women, says of herself: "'I am by the sea and I have a picture. This is a picture of a picture. I am -' She screwed up her face and scowled - 'thinking'." (p 62) This passage immediately precedes that about the snails. The capability of reflecting and thinking does not introduce a division of 'the people' from other animals. (To Golding this division does not seem to come up before homo sapiens.)8

'People' stands for the animal spirit out of which these man-like creatures (which to Wells were not at all man-like) conceive themselves. At their first contact with homo sapiens, 'the people' instinctively exclude them from their community (which they share with other animals), although, upon reflection, they must suppose a basic understanding amongst all 'people', which is to include 'the new people' (homo sapiens). The other, the alien, must in the last resort be conceived of in terms of the familiar. To Lok, Fa and the old woman it is inconceivable that there might be thinking creatures with whom they would not exchange ideas and which they would meet with hostility.

Here is a picture. Someone is - other. Not one of the people. He says to Ha: 'Come! Here is more food than I can eat.'9 Then Ha says - "
Her voice faded away. Nil began to whimper.
"Where is Ha?"
The old woman answered her.
Lok seized Nil and shook her a little.
"They have changed words or shared a picture. Ha will tell us and I will go after him." He looked round at them. "People understand each other."

The people considered this and shook their heads in agreement.10

Ha is missing from the group of the people. To understand what this individual loss means, Lok contemplates a general quality of that individual. To know what the individual is, Neandertal man has to be overcome by something which is general and yet means the individual. The general is not a mere abstraction but bears in it, undistinguished, both a variety of impressions attributed to the individual and the deepest individuality. In his search of the absent Ha Lok has to be overcome by the 'ha-ness'11 of Ha:

"Speak, Lok!"
He tried to fix his eyes on some point in the shadows that would draw him away and enable him to forget them. Half-seeing, he glimpsed the thorn bush leant against the rock. All at once the Ha-ness of Ha was with him in the overhang. An extreme excitement filled him. He began to chatter.
"Ha has a mark here under the eye where the stick burned him. He smells - so! He speaks. There is the little patch of hair over his big toe - "
He jumped round.
"Ha has found another. See! Ha falls from the cliff - that is a picture.12

The influence of 'the new people' begins to destroy the community of the 'people' both from without and from within. In the face of a threat to their existence, the 'people' start reproaching each other for their mistakes. Previously there was a playful atmosphere in which the shortcomings of some of the community members (notably Lok) were laughed at. With the group dwindling towards annihilation, fewer occasions arise for light-hearted get-togethers. Instead, individual relationships comparable to that of slave and master begin to evolve, as e.g. when Fa orders Lok to return the arrow which was aimed at him. (Ironically, the situation is as little understood by Fa as it is by Lok. And as Golding for the greatest part of the novel chooses Lok's perspective, the reader finds it difficult to comprehend what exactly happens when the 'people' and 'the new people' clash. Lok thinks the arrow aimed at him is a present,13 the weapons used by the 'new people' are completely unknown to him.)

Lok continued to scratch and there was an aching emptiness in his head. She jerked twice.
"Lok has no pictures in his head."
Fa spoke to the side of his head.
"Do what I say. Do not say: 'Fa do this.' I will say: 'Lok do this.' I have many pictures."14

The increasing individualisation of the 'people' under the influence of the 'new people' is furthermore expressed in the need to put into words the unaccountable things the 'new people' do, whereas in the old community meaning and agreement were often enough conveyed without language. Golding's Neandertalers use a simple language which is yet fitted to express not only the present but also the past and future. To Golding the function of this language largely consists in evoking a 'picture' in the addressee which is not only to correspond to the speaker's 'picture' but is to be the same. Golding calls this 'sharing a picture'. When expecting the death of Mal, the old man and head of the community, the shared experience becomes one mystic vision beyond all individuality.

Then there was silence again and one mind or no mind in the overhang.
Quite without warning, all the people shared a picture inside their heads. This was a picture of Mal, seeming a little removed from them, illuminated, sharply defined in all his gaunt misery. They saw not only Mal's body but the slow pictures that were waxing and waning in his head. One above all was displacing the others, dawning through the cloudy arguments and doubts and conjectures until they knew what it was he was thinking with such dull conviction.
"Tomorrow or the day after, I shall die."15

When language fails to put across a meaning, the usual comment is "I do not see this picture."16 Fa tries to distinguish herself from Lok by claiming to have more pictures than Lok.

The self-alienation of the 'people' as it is brought about by their contact with the 'new people' takes place individually. Lok in solitary pursuit of the scent of one of the 'new people' is aware of some transformation in himself. The totally strange scent Lok is following estranges him from himself. This mood of self-estrangement only ceases with his return to Fa. The pursued stranger is 'Lok-other', but Lok does not experience his strangeness externally, in terms of the disparate, for Lok himself temporarily becomes 'Lok-other' through some immediate process of identification.17

An external approach towards the world is quite unknown to Lok. His experience always is identification with the other. In his search for Ha this identification with the stranger takes place rhapsodically and does not cease till Lok has returned to his community's fireplace. Strikingly, the identification only takes place for himself, whilst he keeps moving in a way that is typical of the 'people', rather than the 'new people'.

There built up in Lok's head a picture of the man, not by reasoned deduction but because in every place the scent told him-do this! As the smell of cat would evoke in him a cat-stealth of avoidance and a cat-snarl; as the sight of Mal tottering up the slope had made the people parody him, so now the scent turned Lok into the thing that had gone before him. He was beginning to know the other without understanding how it was that he knew. Lok-other crouched at the lip of the cliff and stared across the rocks of the mountain. He threw himself forward and was running with legs and back bent. ...
... Lok-other began to edge down the rock from ledge to ledge. He pushed himself forward, leaned out and looked down. At once his eye was dazzled by a tongue of flame from the fire; he was Lok again, at home with the people, and the other was gone.18

This experience has a lasting influence on Lok. "He was cut off and no longer one of the people; as though his communion with the other had changed him he was different from them and they could not see him."19 At the same time Lok discovers that his knowledge of the 'new people' earns him that respect from the group which, owing to his inferior intelligence, he could not always be sure of.

"With the scent of other I am other. I creep like a cat. I am frightened and greedy. I am strong." He broke out of the mime and ran rapidly past Fa, then turned and faced her. "Now I am Ha and the other. I am strong."
"I do not see this picture"
"The other is on the island--"
He spread his arms as wide as he could. He flapped them like a bird. Fa grinned and then laughed. Lok laughed too, more and more delighted to be approved.20

Golding in the case of Lok only scantily indicates a few traces of transition from the Neandertal way of thinking to that of the 'new people'.21 In spite of his absorption with the 'new people's' alien way of life, Lok remains determined by fellow feeling towards his community and does not adopt any of the observed individualism. Fa, on the other hand, does change in the end. She lets Lok participate only by way of orders in the plans she made herself. For this she has to pay with her life. Fa transgresses the traditional custom that men are responsible for planning and women for the worship of Oa, their deity, which the old woman had unquestioningly abided by. "'A man for pictures. A woman for Oa.'"22 Fa's contact with the 'new people' leads towards a matter-of-fact materialisation of human relations.

The fear which Lok has in view of the threat by the others is a deep concern for 'the people', not for himself.23 In a situation, however, in which his own life is in peril (when he is suspended on a thin branch across the river) his concern is solely for himself: "He ceased to think of the old people or the new people. He experienced Lok, upside down over deep water with a twig to save him."24

(2) The New People

When in the last chapter the situation is described through the perspective of Tuami, a warrior of the new type, the reader realizes to what an alarming extent the 'new people' conduct themselves in reference to dead material objects. At the same time their feeling of life is not a sentiment towards the community but towards individual members of their tribe, and this feeling becomes mere hatred as soon as no communication takes place between them. Tuami carves a piece of ivory meaning to produce a knife. During his solitary watch he imagines how he will use this knife against the eldest who is in command;25 in the end the dagger is even meant to kill his concubine whose demand for luxury Tuami thinks has brought misery over them all.26 This universal hatred gains shape in the relationship of master and slave. The eldest uses his whip to extol highest performance out of his subjects, and feelings of discontent are focused upon individuals who are to take the blame for them. The 'new people's' struggle for a common purpose which Lok tragically misinterprets (for he even sympathises with their success, supposing a unison amongst them which does not exist) is radically different from the sharing of uneasiness amongst the 'people', at least until they have contact with the 'new people'. Then the strongest tendency to accuse others is developed by Fa who believes she can master the situation by implementing her ideas which Lok does not share. "Her face looked as though she hated him".27 Amongst the 'new people' this hatred has entered into the hierarchy and even the relationships between men and women are determined by dominance and subordination. Fa's equivalent amongst the 'new people', Twal, accuses her husband and master:

"What have I to do with food, master? You and he gave my child to the devils and they have given me back a changeling who does not see or speak."28"

The 'new people' determine themselves from and through dead matter which they subject to their arbitrary purposes, and they also subject their fellows to such purposes. Their community is one of purposeful utility. Members of it experience themselves as laying claims on other individuals. The individual determines himself through its differentiation from others, the others are primarily different from him. The rise of egotism, unknown among the 'people', has as its goal the subjection of others. It is in this that Golding seems to see the origin of evil, as also Danielle Escudié has emphasized: "le Mal n'est autre que l'égocentrisme manifesté dans l'instinct de domination, qui empoisonne les rapports humains ... "29

Thus the hierarchy amongst the 'new people', which is a hierarchy of individual subjection, is always in jeopardy of being overthrown, whereas amongst the Neandertals Mal's authority is never called into doubt,30 even though his impatient expectation of death has driven him to lead his tribe prematurely to their summer quarters.31 The question of guilt is never raised; the Neandertals' hierarchy is based upon the natural respect enjoyed by the eldest. The decision taken by the eldest is not always considered the best, but it is generally obeyed in that communal agreement which to the Neandertals, upon their first attempts at reflection, is a vital way to overcome the incomprehensibility of the world. Accordingly, the word spoken by the eldest, when it does not conform to the tribes people's opinion, carries an indubitable import which frees the community from any individual scruples (as if this word was 'volonté g&eacut;nérale' without being 'volonté de tous', to put it in Rousseau's terms):

"Must Liku come with us because Mal said so?"
Ha pulled at his lip.
"That is a new thing. But it was spoken."
"Mal saw the mountain burning."
Ha looked up at the great dim height above them.
"I do not see this picture."
Lok giggled nervously.
"To-day is like yesterday and to-morrow."
Ha twitched his ears at them and smiled gravely.
"It was spoken."
All at once the indefinable tension broke and Fa, Lok and Liku ran swiftly along the terrace.32

Errors in leadership would immediately bring about a crisis amongst the 'new people'. Neandertal man, however (at any rate before they have come in contact with the 'new people'), share their woe without looking for a scapegoat and without having thrust themselves into the hands of a leader.

The 'new people', on the other hand, relate to each other through material objects, and their bodies are among these objects. They use their bodies as means to influence others. Most obviously this is the case with Vivani who quite purposefully emphasizes and utilises her feminine charms. Her interest in power tells her that it would be disadvantageous to give up her marriage-like relationship with governing Marlan, but she awakes lust in her lover Tuami, a lust which is related to hatred:

Now Vivani was really waking. They heard her huge, luxurious yawn and the bear skin was thrown off. She sat up, shook back her loose hair and looked first at Marlan then at Tuami. At once he was filled again with lust and hate. If she had been what she was, if Marlan, if her man, if she had saved her baby in the storm on the salt water-- 33

Lok previously observed Tuami's and Vivani's sexual intercourse which was conducted in such fighting opposition as is utterly strange to Neandertal men:

Their fierce and wolflike battle was ended. They had fought it seemed against each other, consumed each other rather than lain together so that there was blood on the woman's face and the man's shoulder. Now, the fighting done and peace restored between them, or whatever state it was that was restored, they played together.34

Lok and Fa, on the other hand, experience their sexual contact as a merging of one into the other, not as an individual fight. At the end of chapter 6 (i.e. after their first observations of the 'new people') Golding describes it as a search for a shared centre:

Then they were holding on to each other, breast against breast. The rocks round them were like any other rocks; the firelight had died out of them. The two pressed themselves against each other, they clung, searching for a centre, they fell, still clinging face to face. The fire of their bodies lit, and they strained towards it.35

Though still clear of the individual opposition observed among the 'new people', there is an awareness gradually coming up in Lok and particularly in Fa which no longer admits of the previous casualness. For Golding had previously not described, though he had mentioned, Lok's desire for his mingling with Fa. In chapter 6 the external fire (the only fire which warms, for the 'new people's' huge fire radiates no real warmth)36 is extinguished, the new people have destroyed it, and already the starting point of human relations is individual. The community round the fire can no longer exist.

The 'new people' are characterized by the fall which is also symbolized by a waterfall which separates them from 'the people'. "'They are like the river and the fall, they are people of the fall; nothing stands against them.'"37 'The new people' can avail themselves of an understanding of the world which is also an understanding of their bodies. They use their bodies like tools. Lok, on the other hand, lives in quite an innocent relation to his body. Unknowingly he can leave his body to itself: "Lok's feet were clever. They saw. They threw him round the displayed roots of the beeches, leapt when a puddle of water lay across the trail."38 There is no distinction between body and self as there is amongst the 'new people'.

The interaction of the 'new people' amongst each other, as it is determined by material objects, entails the use of weapons which can kill without bodily contact with the supposed enemy. Bow and arrows, let alone catapults, transport Lok and Fa into a state of bewilderment whilst for themselves they use but thorn bushes to defend themselves against wild animals. The 'new people's' aggressiveness is utterly alien to them. They live out of a state of nearness and community. Even in their desperate attempt to free their children from captivity by the 'new people' Lok attempts to use language, i.e. he presupposes a common ground with the 'new people', whilst Fa, having observed the 'new people', comes up with the idea of taking a hostage. Lok thus sticks to his inborn conviction of sharing his ideas with others (even when they seem to be quite unlike himself), whereas Fa has learned the lessons of trade and its applicability to human relations. Whilst Fa is all too ready to give up the common ground of community life and fixes the value of things and lives according to the difference in possessions, Lok remains a man of community spirit to whom resemblance matters most and to whom difference cannot divide a community.

When humans determine themselves through material objects and thus define themselves in opposition to others (as e.g. Vivani does through her adornments and the precious furs which had cost two hunters' lives)39 this is to Golding always linked with lack of humour. There is no natural wag among the 'new people' as is Lok among 'the people'. The 'new people's' thoughts are gloomy. They experience their fellows as those who are in the way to their own happiness. The alcoholic drink they brew does not really enable them to regain their communion, not even in a physical and sexual way. They are fallen creatures, unable to elevate themselves above the present situation which they can only overcome by physically removing themselves from the setting of their strife. They are capable of perfecting themselves technically (a progress quite unknown to Neandertal man), but this does not alter the inimical way in which they relate to each other. To Golding there cannot be any understanding between the two species of man, for which mainly the 'new people' are to be blamed: to them Lok and the other 'people' are not human or even human-like. They call the other species 'the devils'40 and are in a state of war with beings who they do not know and whom they do not desire to know. The 'new people' depart merely from the external criterion of the body which, even amongst themselves, cannot grasp the vivid experience really taking place.41

The question as to who 'the inheritors' of the novel's title are may be answered by saying that the reader, themselves organized in society, belongs to the inheritors. We are the inheritors of the 'new people'.42 It is us who have lost an immediate shared access to life. Our point of departure is the individual as it determines itself in terms of dead matter, as Rousseau and Marx have emphasized. But to both Golding and Rousseau it is possible even in the state of civilization to grieve for that original state which seems so utterly out of reach for civilized man, so that civilized thought may not be corrupt throughout. Something may also be said to have been passed down to us which is not itself a product of civilization. It is this something which makes us sympathize with Lok to a large extent.43

Thus Golding, rather than referring to a historical conflict, seems to have shown two opposed tendencies in our present way of relating to others. The setting only is prehistoric.

(3) Comparison with Rousseau's and Hobbes's descriptions of the state of nature

It is striking that Golding's presentation of the two prehistoric man-like species largely corresponds to two contrary descriptions of the state of nature. The 'people' around Lok correspond to the picture which Rousseau draws of the state of nature. 'The new people', in turn, remind the reader of Hobbes's famous opinion according to which man without a sovereign is a wolf unto his fellow men,44 i.e. their way of life largely resembles the disastrous image evolving in Rousseau of the state of civilization.45

To appreciate Golding's The Inheritors it is not necessary to know Rousseau's description of the state of nature. And yet it is highly illuminating to point out a few parallels. In the same manner in which Golding emphasizes hatred as the driving force amongst the 'new people', Rousseau (as Marx in his theory of class struggle) saw hate as the inevitable result of civilized thinking.46 Rousseau's image of man in the state of nature, however, does not coincide with Golding's, particularly in respect of physical detail. Rousseau did not wish to say much about the bodily appearance of man in the state of nature47 so that Golding's presentation of Neandertal man may be said to be derived both from his imagination and from scientific research of the kind Rousseau, too, would have liked to have available.48 Concentrating on the intellectual, or as Rousseau puts it: metaphysical,49 attributes, at least one significant parallel can be established.

Life amongst 'the people' does indeed take place for individuals who esteem each other and themselves. That condition, however, in which Neandertal man rests in himself is not at all individual. It is a condition beyond all individuality: "One of the deep silences fell on them, that seemed so much more natural than speech, a timeless silence in which there were at first many minds in the overhang; and then perhaps no mind at all.50 [...] Called back into their individual skulls they turned to him."51 "Then there was silence again and one mind or no mind in the overhang."52 Golding gives this description at a point in his narrative when life to the 'people' is still sheltered and harmonious: the fire has just been transferred from the winter quarters to the summer cave. And it is indeed the fire which enables them to return to this state beyond individuality.

To Rousseau, too, the savage does not determine himself from his individuality but rather from his species: " [...] sachant encore à peine distinguer les rangs, et se contemplant au premier par son espèce, il se préparait de loin à y prétendre par son individu."53 Primitive man delights for mankind's sake when he has hunted down a stag.

The difference between Rousseau and Golding, however, seems to consist in this: whereas Rousseau presents the beginnings of the state of nature in rather a reclusive manner and has solitary man live through his species and as his species, Golding already imagines an existing community (as Rousseau did at a further advanced stage of the state of nature) which is capable of elevating itself above onsetting individuality. (To the 'new people' this is no longer possible, not even by means of alcohol.) "Lok has no life outside his people; his is an identity which only has meaning within a collective, tribal framework."54

(4) Epistemological difficulties in historical interpretation.

Having shown that Golding drafts a picture of the state of nature on the models of Hobbes and Rousseau, it remains to point out the shortcomings and dangers of a historical interpretation. Now that Golding has been seen to have modelled his state of nature very much along the lines of Rousseau's, it remains to bear in mind that Golding, as little as Rousseau, considers his state of nature as historical fact. The image of the state of nature is not 'matter of fact' but a picture in the imagination (even though amongst critics there was an early tendency to take Golding's narrative as historical).55 Bearing in mind that this is only a picture in the imagination, the reader and critic may avoid falling back on some naive ontology which would take the picture for a copy of what the picture depicts.56 One should beware of making the picture a thing. Existence as a picture is not existence as a thing. The image, as J.-P. Sartre reminds his readers,57 is an action, an activity of the mind, and not a thing. The image is consciousness of a thing, it is not the thing itself. There are no images in consciousness, but the image is a species of consciousness.58 For present-day English literature this sort of reminder would be superfluous; too obvious is it to the reader that, e.g. in Martin Amis's Night Train or in Ian McEwan's Cement Garden or Black Dogs, or even in Iris Murdoch's Under the Net, it is not facts which are described but states of mind. These states of mind express an existence which is complete in itself and confirms itself, even though it is insupportable in respect of the world of matter of fact. In the case of Golding who started his exceptional literary career soon after World War II there may be a temptation to naively interpret Lord of the Flies and The Inheritors historically. That Golding was himself opposed to such interpretations may be seen from his succeeding novel Pincher Martin in which any factual link of the protagonist struggling for his life to the world is thoroughly ruled out: all the struggle for survival, with all its supposed objects, must have taken place without the least correspondence to those imagined objects, for Pincher Martin takes his boots off at the beginning of his struggle against drowning - so at least he thinks - but in the end he is found by the coast guards who speculate that his death must have come about very rapidly as he had not even time to take his boots off.

Thus it appears to be quite in keeping with Golding's tenor to warn against a historical approach towards his Inheritors. The imagined picture does not tell anything about the object in itself, but it does tell everything about consciousness.59 Golding is not concerned with the world of objects and matters of fact but with human consciousness and this is ultimately the reader's.


1 David Hume, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. David Hume, Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. by Selby-Bigge (3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), §§ 150, 151.

2 Norman Page (ed.), William Golding: Novels, 1954-67. Lord of the Flies. The Inheritors. Pincher Martin. Free Fall. The Spire. The Pyramid. A Casebook (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1985, "Introduction", 16. - Cf. also Danielle Escudié: " Mais, alors que W. Golding choisit le plan symbolique pour observer l'homme sub specie Aeternitatis, Angus Wilson choisit le plan du réel et de l'histoire." Danielle Escudié, Deux aspects de l'aliénation dans le roman anglais contemporain 1945-1965. Angus Wilson et William Golding (Paris: Didier, 1975), 83. - Golding himself claimed that he wanted to look at Man from the same angle. William Golding, "The Writer in his Age", in: London Magazine, 4 (1957), 45 f.

3 H.G. Wells, Selected Short Stories (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1960, [1927]), 292.

4 William Golding, The Inheritors (London: Faber and Faber, 1961 [1955]), 296.

5 5 Wells, op.cit., 288.

6 Inheritors, 295

7 Inheritors, 54.

8 To Edmund Burke even civilized man lives in a community with other beings, and even with such natural objects which are usually termed dead, such as stones. "[...] society [...] may be divided into two sorts. 1. The society of the sexes, which answers the purposes of propagation; and next, that more general society, which we have with men and with other animals, and which we may in some sort be said to have even with the inanimate world." Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, [1757] ed. by James T. Boulton (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987), 40.

9 It is striking that Rousseau describes the beginnings of civilization, and the last stage of the state of nature, in similar terms: " [...] en un mot, tant qu'ils ne s'appliquèrent qu'à des ouvrages qu'un seul pouvait faire, et qu'à des arts qui n'avaient pas besoin du concurs de plusieurs mains, ils vécurent libres, sains, bons et heureux autant qu'ils pouvaient l'être par leur nature, et continuèrent à jouir entre eux des douceurs d'un commerce indépendant. Mais, dès l'instant qu'un homme eut besoin du secours d'un autre, dès qu'on s'aperçut qu'il était utile à un seul d'avoir des provisions pour deux, l'égalité disparut, la propriété s'introduisit, le travail devint necessaire [...]." Rousseau, Discours sur l'inégalité, in: J.-J. Rousseau, Schriften zur Kulturkritik (3rd. ed., Hamburg: Meiner 1978), op.cit., 212.

10 Inheritors, 71 f.

11 Accordingly, the individual is expressed through the general after the unaccountable absence of Ha and after Mal's death: "There was a blankness of Ha and Mal in the overhang." (Inheritors, 92)

12 Inheritors, 70 f.

13 Inheritors, 111.

14 Inheritors, 117.

15 Inheritors, 38 f.

16 Inheritors, e.g. 27.

17 Inheritors, 77.

18 Inheritors, 77 (cf. ibid., 97).

19 Inheritors, 78.

20 Inheritors, 97.

21 "He had another picture of the logs moving back into the river and this picture was so clearly connected in some way with the first one and the sounds from the clearing that he understood why one came out of the other. This was an upheaval in the brain and he felt proud and sad and like Mal. He spoke softly to the briars with their chains of new buds.
'Now I am Mal.'
He tried to see another picture that came out of this but could not. and then his head was Lok's head again and empty." (Inheritors, 191 f.)

22 Inheritors, 95.

23 Inheritors, 104.

24 Inheritors, 108.

25 Inheritors, 226.

26 Inheritors, 233.

27 Inheritors, 117.

28 Inheritors, 229.

29 Danielle Escudié, op.cit., 11.

30 This has also been emphasized by Hartmut Lutz, William Goldings Prosawerk im Lichte der Analytischen Psychologie Carl Gustav Jungs und der Psychoanalyse Sigmund Freuds (Frankfurt/Main: Lang, 1975), 89.

31 "Though they had never seen an ice woman still left in this gully when they came back from their winter cave by the sea, the thought did not occur to them that Mal had taken them into the mountains too early." Inheritors, 28.

32 Inheritors, 46 f.

33 Inheritors, 228.

34 Inheritors, 176; cf. 174 f.

35 Inheritors, 131.

36 Inheritors, 171.

37 Inheritors, 195.

38 Inheritors, 11.

39 Inheritors, 225.

40 Inheritors, 232.

41 In Pincher Martin the coast guard know just as little of what passed in Martin's consciousness when they pull him out of the water.

42 This is well put by Kevin McCarron: "Although we are inclined to sympathize with Lok's people, Golding's technique forces us to realize that we belong with the New Men; we are the Inheritors." Kevin McCarron, William Golding (Plymouth: Northcote, 1994), 8.

43 It is to my mind most unsatisfactory if homo sapiens and civilization are equated with rationality only, as e.g. Philip Redpath emphatically states: "We could claim that in The Inheritors Golding is deliberately making us read from the wrong point of view, from the non-human perspective, for most of the novel. Golding presents two hundred and sixteeen pages of the novel from the Neanderthal perspective in order to explain Tuami's perspective in the final chapter. [...] We inherit the new people's point of view, and to that extent the book is also about us - the inheritors of their world, not Lok's world. Whatever his world was, it was other than ours. Our humanity is founded upon this point of view, and it is our humanity that The Inheritors helps us to understand." (Philip Redpath, "'Dogs Would Find an Arid Space round my Feet': A Humanist Reading of The Inheritors." In: James R. Baker (ed.), Critical Essays on William Golding (Boston, Mass.: Hall, 1988), 40. - Philip Redpath's sympathy with the 'new people' is based upon a form of rationalism that makes physical appearance and language (ibid., 33), along with value judgments (ibid., 40), the criteria to distinguish man from other creatures. Oddly enough, the first of these points seems to be decisive to Redpath in explaining why he sides with homo sapiens. Golding's own criteria are more complex: "It's an odd thing - as far back as we can go in history we find that the two signs of Man are a capacity to kill and a belief in God." Jack I. Biles, Talk: Conversations with William Golding. Foreword by William Golding (New York: Jovanovich, 1970), 106. - Barbara Everett, on the other hand, is aware of the remnants of something pre-civilized in our civilized thought: "The story itself explains our double ancestry in terms of two children of the People, one eaten by the New Men and the other likely when full grown to interbreed with them." Barbara Everett, "Golding's Pity", in: John Carey (ed.), William Golding. The Man and his Books. A Tribute on his 75th Birthday (London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1986), 116.

44 Golding may well be alluding to Hobbes when he has Lok and Fa compare the 'new people's' teeth to those of wolves. "They were teeth that remembered wolf." (174) At any rate the sexual intercourse between Tuami and Vivani was termed 'their fierce and wolflike battle' (Inheritors, 176).

45 Hobbes writes: "Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. [...] In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." Leviathan, [1651] ed. by C.B. Macpherson (Harmondsworth: Penguin, repr. 1976), ch.13, 185 f.

46 "[...] il n'en sera pas moins vrai qu'elle porte nécessairement les hommes à s'entre-haïr à proportion que leur int´rêts se croisent, à se rendre mutuellement des services apparents, et à se faire en effet tous les maux imaginables" (J.-J. Rousseau, op.cit., 110.)

47 "[...] je ne m'arrêterai pas à rechercher dans le systàme animal ce qu'il put être au commencement, pour devenir enfin ce qu'il est. Je n'examinerai pas si, comme le pense Aristote, ses ongles allongés ne furent point d'abord des griffes crochues ; s'il n'était point velu comme un ours ; et si, marchant à quatre pieds, ses regards dirigés vers la terre et bornés à un horizon de quelques pas, ne marquaient point à la fois le caractère et les limites de ses idées." Rousseau, op.cit., 82.

48 Rousseau, op.cit., 82.

49 Rousseau, op.cit., 104.

50 V.V. Subbarao refers to this sentence by appropriately saying: "It suggests what one might call a condition of transcendence of time and space signifying a state of undifferentiated consciousness," William Golding: A Study (London: Oriental University Press, 1987), 27.

51 Inheritors, 34.

52 Inheritors, 38.

53 Rousseau, op.cit., 196.

54 McCarron, op.cit., 13.

55 "There is no 'suspension of disbelief' about it [The Inheritors], but an active conviction of its truth. Where others have reconstructed a prehistoric past, Mr Golding has created it. You do not think, 'This is marvellously clever'; you think, 'It was so'." Isabel Quigley, Spectator, 30 Sept. 1955; quoted from: Norman Page, William Golding. Casebook, 24.

56 Cf. Jean-Paul Sartre, L'imagination (3rd ed., Paris: Presses Universitaires Françaises, 1989 [1936]), 4.

57 ibid., 196.

58 ibid.

59 This was clearly seen also by Mark Kinkead-Weekes and Ian Gregor, William Golding. A Critical Study (London: Faber and Faber, 1967), 68: "Any such process of understanding has however to take place outside the fiction itself. The only incitement to interpret, deduce, explain, comes from our own intellectual frustration at being confronted with the apparently unintelligible. [...] We cannot be prevented from analysing and judging, nor need we; but we would indeed 'murder to dissect' if we thought that analysis and judgement were supposed to be the object of the exercise. Imaginative exploration, through a vision quite unlike our own, comes first. Understanding will follow, but more slowly and mysteriously from a distillation of experience, and it may result in something far more complex than a black-and-white contrast between Men and People. If ever there was a book meant to be read through in one imaginative act, by which we seek to become, and to judge only when the experience is complete, it is The Inheritors."