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William Golding: The Inheritors

People have very mixed views of this novel. Some like the challenge it presents. Some think it boring. If you are not interested in reading books that offer such a fresh perspective, you probably shouldn’t be on this website. It is based on the theory that Cro-Magnon man (our ancestors) supplanted the gentler Neanderthals. There are two main characters – Lok and Fa. Lok is the dumb one and Fa the smart one. Much of the book we see through their eyes and Golding certainly does an excellent job of portraying what they see, feel, smell. The early part of the book is about their everyday life and how they live, as seen from their perspective. Then the humans come. This is not a black-and-white battle between good and evil. The humans are, in fact, more terrified of the Neanderthals than the other way around. Just as there is a very good chance that we would take an antagonistic stance towards aliens from another planet, so the humans take such a stance against the Neanderthals. In the end, the humans have won and the Neanderthals are virtually wiped out (though there is an indication that one of them may be part of us) and we start to see things from the human perspective. That’s now the one we live with.

Publishing history

First published 1955 by Faber & Faber