Literary giant – or a nasty piece of work?

From The Telegraph:

WilliamGolding_1464784c If William Golding tried, aged 18, to rape a girl of 15, as John Carey claims in his new biography, how should that change our view of his novels? It's not as if Golding pretended to a rosy view of human nature. The account by the author of Lord of the Flies of his bungled teenage sex attack, we learn, formed part of an explanation for his wife of his own monstrousness. Elsewhere he went as far as to say that if he had been around in Germany at the right time, he'd have become a Nazi.

As it happened, his intended rape victim ran away, and he was busy at Oxford when Hitler was recruiting. But Golding habitually surfeited on the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If he'd been a caveman he'd have joined in the extermination of the gentle Neanderthals, as his novel The Inheritors suggests. Real rape, though, is different from imagined genocide, for it makes us hate the perpetrator. If the guilty man has set himself up as a moral arbiter it undermines his credibility. That happened to Arthur Koestler. By the 1950s he had become the “universal voice of the twentieth century”, wrote one biographer. In the same decade, another biographer discovered, he'd also become a serial rapist. Jill Craigie, the late wife of Michael Foot, confirmed that she was among his victims.

More here.