Pincher Martin, by William Golding

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

pincher-martinPincher Martin is a most disconcerting book.  First published in 1956, it was William Golding’s third novel after his wildly successful debut novel Lord of the Flies (1954) and while it likewise depicts the human condition in extremis it is not, as Wikipedia describes it, merely a novel that records the thoughts of a drowning sailor.

To explain why, I need to depart from my usual practice and consider the plot, spoilers and all.  You have been warned…


I read the first few pages both enthralled and appalled: the third person narration describes the desperate struggle of a sailor fighting for his life in the cold waters of the Atlantic.  The blurb had told me that he was the sole survivor of a torpedoed destroyer and I could hardly bear to read his frantic efforts to breathe:

He was struggling in every direction, he was the centre of the…

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