Boys will be boys, thank goodness
By The Editors

'Lord of the Flies' was grim fiction. The real story is even more remarkable.

Boys will be boys, thank goodness


'Lord of the Flies' made an indelible impression...

...persuading generations that we are all closet savages.

Then the same scenario played out in real life.

And here's what really happened.

Few books have had a more colossal impact on the way we think about ourselves than William Golding’s 1954 classic Lord of the Flies. The story of English schoolboys shipwrecked on a deserted island descending into mindless barbarism (recreated in the terrific 1963 movie) packed such a wallop that the term itself became shorthand for the notion that we exist behind the thinnest veneer of civilization, and left to our own devices, we would turn to anarchism and savagery. Golding was targeting especially the males of our species – but that’s because Mean Girls hadn’t yet appeared.

It was the kind of thing that struck a big chord in the Sixties, and Lord of the Flies helped launch a whole dystopian genre.

What if William Golding was really just a sick puppy?

But what if the whole thing was a crock? What if William Golding – make that Sir William Golding, Oxford-educated Nobel Prize winner – was really just a sick puppy, expressing his twisted anger at the world?

What if we’re better than that?

Turns out there was a test case, one reported by Rutger Bergman in Humankind, an amazing true story of what a shipwreck brought out in a bunch of boys.