Golding’s The Spire features in an episode of the wonderful Ninety Nine Novels podcast from the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. In 1984, Burgess published a list of his 99 favourite novels published since the outbreak of the Second World War and the podcast explores these novels with writers and critics. Tim Kendall, Professor of English Literature at the University of Exeter, is presenter Graham Foster’s guest in the episode focused on The Spire. Rather beautifully, Kendall describes The Spire as the book that changed his life and the novel inspired his subsequent love of reading.
Kendall and Foster explore this novel and the often ‘fractious’ relationship between Golding and Burgess. In 1980, Golding’s Rites of Passage and Burgess’ Earthly Powers were both nominated for the Booker Prize, with Golding emerging as the eventual winner. But it is clear that both men admired each other writing to some degree. I was particularly struck by the discussion of the relevance of The Spire today, with Foster commenting that the ‘world seems to be full of the same kind of hubris’ that we see in the novel, and Kendall emphasising that The Spire reminds us that ‘certainty is a very dangerous thing’. The episode is available below and I’d recommend checking out the other episodes in the series, too. Professor Kendall also joined myself and Golding’s daughter Judy in a podcast discussion about Darkness Visible.