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.