What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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Updated 16 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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  • The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals

Author: William Golding

“Lord of the Flies” is a coming of age novel by British novelist William Golding. First published in 1954, the title has since become a classic of modern literature.

It tells the story of a group of British boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes during a wartime evacuation.

The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals. As the boys struggle to survive and establish order on the island, their society gradually descends into chaos and savagery.

The title refers to a severed pig’s head, symbolizing the evil and primitive instincts that take hold of the boys.

The main characters in the novel include Ralph, a charismatic and responsible boy who tries to maintain order and establish a signal fire to attract rescuers; Jack, a power-hungry and savage boy who becomes the leader of a group of hunters; Piggy, an intelligent but socially marginalized boy who serves as Ralph’s adviser; and Simon, a quiet and introspective boy who experiences a deep connection with nature.

As the story progresses, the boys’ civilization erodes, and they succumb to their primal instincts, engaging in violence and tribal warfare.

“Lord of the Flies” explores the destructive potential of unchecked power, the loss of innocence, and the conflict between civilization and savagery.

The novel has always been subject to various interpretations and perspectives by different readers and scholars. Much of it has been analyzed through the lens of allegorical human nature, political and social commentary, and even Freudian psychology.

“Lord of the Flies” has left a lasting impact on literature and popular culture through its exploration of universal themes, and its enduring relevance in contemporary society.

Its portrayal of the human condition and the fragility of civilization continues to resonate with readers, making it a classic that is worthy of being read again.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Controlling Contagion

What We Are Reading Today: Controlling Contagion
Updated 24 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Controlling Contagion

What We Are Reading Today: Controlling Contagion

Author: Sheilagh Ogilvie 

How do societies tackle epidemic disease? In “Controlling Contagion,” Sheilagh Ogilvie answers this question by exploring seven centuries of pandemics, from the Black Death to COVID-19.

For most of history, infectious diseases have killed many more people than famine or war, and in 2019 they still caused one death in four.


What We’re Reading: The Last Days of the Dinosaurs

What We’re Reading: The Last Days of the Dinosaurs
Updated 24 June 2024
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What We’re Reading: The Last Days of the Dinosaurs

What We’re Reading: The Last Days of the Dinosaurs

Author: Riley Black 

In “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs,” Riley Black walks through what happened after an asteroid impact, tracking the sweeping disruptions that overtook this one spot, and imagining what might have been happening elsewhere on the globe. 
Life’s losses were sharp and deeply-felt, but the hope carried by the survivors set the stage for the world as we know it now.
 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Required Reading’ by Priyasha Mukhopadhyay

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Required Reading’ by Priyasha Mukhopadhyay
Updated 23 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Required Reading’ by Priyasha Mukhopadhyay

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Required Reading’ by Priyasha Mukhopadhyay

In “Required Reading,” Priyasha Mukhopadhyay offers a new and provocative history of reading that centers archives of everyday writing from the British empire.

Mukhopadhyay rummages in the drawers of bureaucratic offices and the cupboards of publishers in search of how historical readers in colonial South Asia responded to texts ranging from licenses to manuals, how they made sense of them, and what this can tell us about their experiences living in the shadow of a vast imperial power.


What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’

What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’
Updated 23 June 2024
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What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’

What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’

Authors: Mary Ann Hunting and Kevin D. Murphy

In the decades preceding World War II, professional architecture schools enrolled increasing numbers of women, but career success did not come easily.

“Women Architects at Work” tells the stories of the resilient and resourceful women who surmounted barriers of sexism, racism, and classism to take on crucial roles in the establishment and growth of Modernism across the United States.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Why Does the World Exist?’

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Updated 22 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Why Does the World Exist?’

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Author: Jim Holt

“Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story” is a nonfiction work by Jim Holt originally published in 2012 that delves into one of the oldest — and most profound — puzzles that mankind faces. He explores various philosophical and scientific theories attempting to explain the existence of the universe and everything in it, raising some thought-provoking questions.

One of the key aspects of Holt’s inquiry is the concept of nothingness. He questions whether there must always be something rather than nothing — that ‘nothingness’ is, in reality, impossible. This leads to a discussion of the nature of existence itself, and whether there is a fundamental reason for the universe’s existence.

Holt also explores the role of religion and theology in answering the question of why the world exists, presenting arguments put forth by theologians and philosophers throughout history, and weighing the merits of various religious and secular explanations.

“Why Does the World Exist?” challenges readers to confront the ultimate existential question and consider the implications of different theories on the nature of reality.

Holt manages to make his examination of complex physics and deep philosophical concepts accessible and easy to read. And his exploration of this profound topic serves as a reminder of the many mysteries that remain unsolved, encouraging readers to contemplate their place in the universe.