Health

"The Inheritors"

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJul 14, 2010 5:43 AM

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I just purchased a copy of William Golding's The Inheritors. Golding is famous for writing Lord of the Flies, a work of literature of such influence that it has made the transition into our everyday lexicon. But I just listened to a podcast of an interview with a biographer of the great author, and it seems that Golding and many of his admirers who are "close readers" judge The Inheritors as his finest novel. The general outline of the plot is easy enough to find on Wikipedia, it is one of those stories about the transition from a "bushy" hominin tree of life to the dominance of H. sapiens sapiens. Neandertals are finally expiring as a species in the face of the advance of modern humans, who marginalize and extirpate all those who came before. But I get the impression that the execution of Golding's attempt is very different from Clan of the Cave Bear. Not having read the book yet I do not know if William Golding's depiction is up to snuff with the latest scholarship on the Neandertals (granted, I am not up to date on the latest scholarship on Neandertals!), though he did guess correctly in all likelihood as to their pigmentation. But, in light of the highly probable non-trivial Neandertal ancestry in over 80% of humans, I feel like revisiting Golding's vision in the near future,

as we carry within our genomes the shadows of both the inheritors and the dispossessed.

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