I came late to John Fowles’ novels – the first novel of his I read was A Maggot, which I started on the train journey to alt.fiction in 2006. I seem to recall buying it because it’s actually a sf novel. Whatever the reason, I thought it very good indeed and decided to read the rest of Fowles’ books. And from there it was a short step to collecting first editions of them.
Fowles had a deceptively readable prose-style. He managed to make complex ideas and situations – and not a few completely nonsensical ones – simple to parse and follow. His post-modernism also appeals to me, something he has in common with Lawrence Durrell. Having said that, some of his books are better than others. The French Lieutenant’s Woman is justifiably a classic, and A Maggot is almost as good. The Magus I suspect would have impressed me more if I’d read it in my teens or twenties. Mantissa is a bit of a dirty old man’s book, but some of the stories in the collection The Ebony Tower are superb (although the title story also has a whiff of dirty old man about it). I’ve yet to read The Collector or Daniel Martin.
My collection is not complete. Fowles wrote seven novels and a number of non-fiction books. First editions of The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman are a bit out of my budget. I have some of the non-fiction, and I have his one collection of poems. Some of the books I owned are also signed.
four paperbacks: The Collector, The Magus, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Ebony Tower
three hardbacks: Daniel Martin, Mantissa, A Maggot
non-fiction: Islands, Wormholes, Journals Vol 1 and Vol 2
about Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds, A Reference Companion, The Romances of…, Writers & their Works
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