John Fowles anyone ?

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John Fowles anyone ?

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maj 20, 2013, 6:32am

Reading the Magus...

I have an uncanny premonition that the story goes nowhere. Just mystery heaped on mystery like a literary variant of "Lost"

maj 20, 2013, 6:33am

But I might be wrong.

maj 20, 2013, 2:51pm

I love this book, but "Lost" is an apt comparison. But I might just be telling you that because the magus wants me to.

maj 20, 2013, 4:35pm

I read The Magus years and years ago and *hated* it. I might like it better now. I really liked The Collector and The French Lieutenant's Woman is one of my favorites. The latter got me more interested in Victorian fiction.

maj 20, 2013, 6:31pm

I read Fowles, the Magus and one other, because when I was a college junior I asked an English professor who the great writers were today (1979), why Henry Miller and Thomas Wolfe were not taught, and so on. He told me Fowles, which I think puts him in a category I don't care much for. Not that I didn't enjoy the Magus, but look at what he skipped. that same year I 'discovered' Vonnegut--Slapstick, which I loved....

maj 20, 2013, 6:43pm

The alternate endings of The French Lieutenant's Woman annoyed me so much that I never read another Fowles, not even The Magus, despite the recommendations of friends. It gave me some satisfaction to punish him in this way, even if the effect on him was less than that of a flea smiting Jupiter.

maj 20, 2013, 6:50pm

"Greatness" is as much a matter of taste and fashion as anything else. Some people think Ayn Rand is great. Influential, possibly, for some (insert adjective of choice here) people but I'd rather do something else than read her works. Have my teeth filled, perhaps.

Maybe we can find people who think The Magus is a worthwhile read and find out why they think so.

maj 20, 2013, 6:53pm

>6 Meredy:
The ending of TFLW didn't bother me. I thought both were in line with the way Fowles "broke the 4th wall". The ending of Magus was worse, esp. as it was in Latin.

maj 20, 2013, 7:00pm

In cauda venenum ?

maj 20, 2013, 7:15pm

I was fascinated with The Magus when I first read it in the early 70s (I think) and I also read the final revision in the late 70s -- still fascinated, but I really don't remember exactly why -- it's not one of those books that has stuck with me over the decades.

Redigeret: maj 20, 2013, 7:33pm

>10 janeajones:
I think you've got it--popular when it was first published, fascinating to some people, but lacks sticking power. More a product of its time than Fowles' other works. Now we have to find someone who recalls why they liked it.

PS: Jane, were you ever a reporter?

maj 20, 2013, 7:44pm

>7 IreneF: I read it when I was 18, and it's an open question whether anything I felt or thought then about The Magus or anything else holds up now. But I remember first and foremost being delighted by the story, the sequence of mysteries. Not knowing what was really going on. I was quite poor growing up, and started university with scholarships that gave me time to dream instead of work, and was meeting and dating people from different class backgrounds, and fascinated with their lives and the sense they had of control over their own life stories. I was trying out different things and fields, like everyone does, and being artsy and trying to come across as very clever and impressive. I also had a fair-sized sense of grievance.

I don't think The Magus is "great"; it's suffused with a really sixties, really male self-centredness, weird semi-liberated attitudes toward women that make Fowles's female characters brilliant and fascinating but also compliant sex objects, and generally a cloying sense that all that's really going on on in Nick Urfe's head is a solipsistic delight at being the hero of his own story. In other words, it's got the flaws of Henry Miller, DH Lawrence, Kerouac, the existentialists, and I found it exhilarating for the same reason. (I was big on the "existential smile"). Fowles isn't the writer Miller is, and he's more pompous, but he's also got less cynicism (e.g. that Latin motto) and that appealed too. At that age you're sort of just at the end-cusp of still being able to believe in magic and alternate worlds and suchlike, and that made the first part of the book amazing. And when the psychiatric stuff started happening, it was pretty cool too--for somebody who was just starting to explore academia, the feeling that the whole way we see the world could be turned around by some weird mix of behaviourism, sex magick, and charlatanry from such exotic locales as a tempest-toss'd Greek isle and an English country house was exhilarating. Maybe I could do an internship there!

Oh, and the open ending made me think maybe me and my girlfriend would get back together. Does any of that make sense?

maj 20, 2013, 8:08pm

>12 MeditationesMartini:
Excellent sense! How do you think you would find it now? Would you recommend it to other people?

maj 20, 2013, 9:24pm

I've recommended and given it to several people, though always with a frisson of self-doubt that is not present when I give any of my other go-to, you-better-like-this-or-why-are-we-friends, kinda books (e.g. The Tin Drum, Riddley Walker, The Baron in the Trees). I've been meaning to read it again and see if the spark's still there. Wish I had time to party down on it with Mac right now. I think your observations in 11 are right on, by the way.

maj 20, 2013, 9:25pm

Oh hey, #5, Rick, Henry Miller wasn't taught? I thought he was a perennial.

maj 20, 2013, 9:50pm

>14 MeditationesMartini:
I think it's just as interesting to find out why people of intelligence have different reading tastes than I do.

maj 20, 2013, 11:09pm

Martini -- Your meditations absolutely synch with my hazy memories -- and I also recommend The Tin Drum and Riddley Walker though am unfamiliar with The Baron in the Trees.

maj 21, 2013, 12:43am

Oh, it's good! I like all of Calvino but this one has the best heart.

maj 21, 2013, 12:44am

Now, you should know, that I never bought the book, I just happened to find it between one of the stacks littering the house. I have no clue where it comes from. It was a post of Martini that incited me to read it... Strange.

maj 21, 2013, 1:11am

12 good review martin !

maj 21, 2013, 1:19am

I think the beauty of Fowles is that he was able to write articulately in any style and at the end of the book, he can say 'look, I fooled you'. Each of the books is a tour de force. I would read him just for the his use of language; every sentence beautifully honed. He sort of did a Gertrude Stein on us though and, toward the end, his language had meaning only to him. I forget whether it was Mantissa or A Maggot that came to such a dead end.

maj 21, 2013, 1:32am

it is true it is well written...

maj 21, 2013, 1:55am

>19 Macumbeira: ha excellent. I hope you like it!

>21 tajar: A Maggot is amazing, but I feel like I wasn't smart enough for it the first time. Mantissa I thought was kind of like self-parody, in the good way.

maj 21, 2013, 8:59am

The cannon accidentally went off, Martin.

maj 21, 2013, 1:33pm

I would have expected Henry Miller to have the street smarts to position himself behind it.