William Golding mistook a Bob Dylan puppet for Satan


March 8, 2017 by AK

Reviewing John Carey’s biography of William Golding in 2009, Peter Conrad reported:

Once, staying at a friend’s house in London, Golding awoke in panic and dismembered a Bob Dylan puppet because he thought it was Satan.

Conrad is unimpressed by Carey’s analysis of Golding’s symbolic violence:

…it may be that Carey is too sane or puritanical to comprehend the creative madness of his subject.

A most amusing incident (and comment). The very existence of that object is remarkable: a Bob Dylan puppet in a house in Hanover Mews in 1971. (In Marylebone, if I’m not mistaken, near Regent’s Park, between the London Business School’s Sussex Palace and the site of the London Central Mosque built in 1974-78.) Did Golding have the slightest intimation both he and Dylan would receive the Nobel Prize in literature, twelve and forty-five years later?

More details of the “Golding’s diabolic encounter” can be found in the book under review. The writer buried the poor doll in the backyard of his friend’s house but the host (the writer Andrew Sinclair) later unearthed it and even showed a photograph of the thing to the biographer. I’m reading The Inheritors now: defamiliarization, or estrangement, taken to the extreme, and surprisingly little pleasure in the recognition.


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