Monday, August 17, 2009

Lord of the Files

John Carey's revelation taken from William Golding private papers, preparing the way for his forthcoming biography, is not the first time he has been involved in divulging facts about the author. In 1986, Carey edited a volume of essays in which the late Stephen Medcalf describes how a dawn spent alone at Stonehenge prompted Golding to tell him a secret.
It seems a good way to have begun a Sunday the rest of which was spent drinking cans of beer with Mr Golding. I protested impotently that my upbringing constrains me to go to church on Sunday: he protested genially that we all have these difficulties with our upbringing but must learn to overcome them. It was that day that he said – swearing me, since 'the discovery should go to him who published it', to a secrecy which with his permission I now break – that he had seen the carving of a Mycenaean dagger on one of those stones before it was noticed and generally proclaimed. And didn't he remark that the moving thing about Stonehenge is that while its proportions, its entasis and geometry make it a piece of architecture, the rain has worn runnels in it and turned it back to nature? I think he did – and it matches another remark of his about the possible etymology of Arthur, artos a bear, something black, animal and inarticulate which seems to convey one dimension of the Arthurian stories, crossed at right angles by the white light of the Grail – 'that's what all my novels are about, only no one has seen it.'

I suppose it is what he is about too.
From Bill and Mr Golding's Daimon, in William Golding: The Man and His Books.

Of course, while I accept this hardly begins to satisfy the extra-literary demands of Carey's disclosure, it is perhaps more relevatory in regard of Golding's fiction in which we are moved by what (in a cursory manner) may be called the crossing of the white light of novelistic architecture with the something-black, animal and inarticulate of what lives within. And it's the fiction we're interested in, right?

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