Friday, April 9, 2010

Pincher Martin

Pincher Martin by William Golding
Trade Paperback, 208 pages
Farber and Farber, 1956
ISBN: 9780571192519
(the cover of my copy is not pictured)
highly recommended

From the Publisher
The sole survivor of a torpedoed destroyer is miraculously cast up on a huge, barren rock in mid-Atlantic. Pitted against him are the sea, the sun, the night cold, and the terror of his isolation. At the core of this raging tale of physical and psychological violence lies Christopher Martin’s will to live as the sum total of his life.
My thoughts:

Wow. This is an incredibly odd book, but at the same time - incredible. Golding is an excellent writer and Pincher Martin uses every ounce of his skill as a wordsmith in this character study of a man facing an extreme struggle for survival, physically and mentally, after washing up on a rock in the mid-Atlantic. The psychological aspects of the situation are as dire as the physical circumstances, but Pincher Martin is a difficult character to sympathize with. Golding is continuing his exploration of the fallen nature of man. There is a surprise ending that will force you to reconsider what Golding was trying to convey. I think Pincher Martin requires more than one reading to more fully comprehend the final messages on the nature of man and perception of reality. Highly Recommended, but not for a casual reader.


He was struggling in every direction, he was the centre of the writing and kicking knot of his own body. There was no up or down, no light and no air. He felt his mouth open of itself and the shrieked word burst out.
"help!" opening

With the realization of the lifebelt a flood of connected images came back - the varnished board on which the instructions were displayed, pictures of the lifebelt itself with the tube and metal tit threaded through the tapes. Suddenly he knew who he was and where he was. pg 9-10

He put his hand before his eyes and saw nothing. Immediately the terror of blindness added itself to the terror of isolation and drowning. He began to make vague climbing motions in the water. pg. 12

Brown tendrils slashed across his face, then with a destroying shock he hit solidity. It was utter difference, it was under his body, against his knees and face, he could close fingers on it, for an instance he could even hold on. pg. 21-22

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