Free Fall

ISBN: 0571062849
ISBN 13: 9780571062843
By: William Golding

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About this book

Somehow, somewhere, Sammy Mountjoy lost his freedom, the faculty of freewill 'that cannot be debated but only experienced, like a colour or the taste of potatoes'. As he retraces his life in an effort to discover why he no longer has the power to choose & decide for himself, the narrative moves between England & a POW camp in Germany.

Reader's Thoughts


It took a while to enter this account of a man's interior and monological journey through his own life, but, once in, it was engrossing. Golding has the ability to draw you in the protagonist's interiority at the level of perception and the senses, so that empathy is more than a rational choice for the reader: the reader has no choice but to empathize. Golding's is one of the most powerful styles of writing inwardness and one of the few that works so well.


To be honest I only picked up this book from the give and take pile because of Lord of the Flies, held onto it for about a year and a half, and then decided to "give it a chance" by reading the first chapter before returning it to the pile. Unfortunately I was hooked by the end of that chapter and knew that I needed to read to the end. This book is a look at the raw forces that drive humanity and is humorous and dark and quite revealing- something I have come to expect from William Golding after Lord of the Flies. I can't say that the book was enjoyable so much as important. It had interesting, and at times terrifying insights and added a lot to my "things to think about" bank. I don't know that I will read it again but was glad that I did the first time.

Mark Lawrence

This is my favourite book. It isn't for the story - though that is very interesting - it isn't for the cleverness of the twist - though it is clever - it's because it represents a brief period of clarity when one of the great writers of our time really got to grips with the business of what being human is all about. Golding exercises a subtle genius here and just lays out truths for you. There aren't necessarily answers to accompany those truths, but he says what you know, in ways that you couldn't say it - and somehow it's comforting to know he has seen and felt what you have.This is a book written by a literary giant, and what you find here rather depends on what you bring and at what point in your life you arrive.Here are snippets from a passage that reached me - if they leave you cold then maybe come back later:My darkness reaches out and fumbles at a typewriter with its tongs. Your darkness reaches out with your tongs and grasps a book. There are twenty modes of change, filter and translation between us.[...]Deep calls out to deep. Our communion (communication) must of needs be imperfect for we are fallen creatures, yet we must of needs make the effort.[...]I tick. I exist. I am poised eighteen inches over the black rivets you are reading, I am in your place. I am shut in a bone box and trying to fasten myself onto white paper. The rivets join us together and yet, for all the passion, we share nothing but our sense of division..


Not my favourite Golding novel, but still a good one. About one man's search for the time when he lost his freedom, covering his childhood, his period as a young adult, and finally realizing he has lost it while in a POW camp in Germany.


I finished this book three weeks ago. I kept no notes as I read it and was enduring various major family and physical issues at the time. All I remember is that it moved me, it spoke to me. It was his most accessible book so far (I am reading Golding's books in the order that he wrote them.)A man who was born in poverty to a mother supporting herself by prostitution, who found himself an orphan at five years old or so, who became a successful painter, looks back over his life. He wants to discover when he lost his freedom, his power of choice.What was extremely interesting to me was that he survived all manner of horrific incidents but though in his adulthood he had managed to achieve the usual security one strives to accomplish, he had lost his personal freedom.Well, if that isn't the story of life, I don't know what is. I have also discovered through my reading project that it was THE major concern of 1950s literature.


This is supposed to be autobiographical, about the author's wife's descent into madness. I read it a long time ago, but it was very powerful.

Kevin Fanning

Read this in college but don't remember a thing about it. I guess I must have liked it enough at the time, because I went on to read Pincher Martin and The Spire, both of which I liked, and still remember details of.

Ruth Hawe

Free Fall was a major influence upon me as a child, and I love the stream of consciousness style. I like to write spontaneously and intuitively myself, and think that the fresh rawness comes across. Polish and reworking is not in me, even down to leaving in typos as I don't want to go back in a different state of consciousness and mess with the muse ;)


An elegant exploration of the nature of human freedom.

Aaron Anderson

It appears that 'existentialist literary fiction written in the 1950s', to quote somebody who said it was his favorite book, doesn't seem to be my thing.


I wonder, at times, how much we fool ourselves when we look back on past actions and reflect upon their consequences. How objective can we be, given that we have to face ourselves and the memory of what we've done every day that we have left on this Earth? "How do you live with yourself?" That's a question from an outside perspective, a question that can't be anything but rhetorical; what else is one to do?Here's a freaky question that I haven't delved into (more peeked at, the way Pandora might have before saying "Fuck it" and prizing the lid all the way): what kind of conclusions does a person with suicidal tendencies reach about his own actions? Does he always come up short?Sam Mountjoy, the narrator of this story, is looking for a moment in his life when he chose one way over another. With each memory, he asks, "Here?" and until late in the story, the answer is, "No. Not here." The closer he draws to this desired demarcation, the more he shows a thread of guilt that grows thicker with the telling. The moment, once revealed, goes into both the when and the what, the latter act delivered with the gravity of an inhuman crime.Golding's prose is dense and excellent, and while wrapped in its layers I could empathize with Mountjoy's queries and agonies. Once I took a step back, though, I felt like I did when I watched "Reefer Madness"--as in, no shit: Mary J makes you crazy enough to kill another person?In the case of Golding's book, I wonder if he wasn't contending with his own hang-ups about sex and love and relationships that have one without the other. Mind you, I'm not curious enough to look into this (not even on a wiki level); I do hope, though, that he didn't go through anything like his narrator. Guy really needs to chill out.


I read this book about 20 years ago (and I'm about to read it again). It changed the way I read books and consume the content. Strange and brilliant.


از نظر من کتاب یه شاهکار مدرنیستی و بهترین اثر گلدینگ بود ولی اگه بخوام با توجه به ترجمه سهیل سمی نمره بدم مطمینا یک ستاره هم نمیگیره.کلا سمی همیشه بهترین کتابهای دنیا و کتابایی مشکل که هیچ کس جرات ترجمشون رو نداره ترجمه میکنه و نتیجه یه شیر بی دم و یال و اشکم از اب در میاد.ولی کتاب عالی بود


Loved this book -- most pithy quote - "people make the walls of our rooms, not philosophies" - loved it.


An excellent book concerned with freedom vs predestination and the contention between rationalism and superstition. Mountjoy is a successful painter looking back over his life and trying to determine when, or whether, he ever had free will, or whether he was fated always to do what he has done. A thoughtful book that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

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