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John Fowles

John Fowles

John Fowles (born 1926) was an award winning post World War II novelist of major importance. While his works are reflective of literary tradition reaching back to Greek philosophy and Celtic romance, he was very much a contemporary existentialist, and his writings received both popular and critical acclaim.

John Fowles was born on March 31, 1926, to middle-class parents living in a small London suburb. He attended a London preparatory school, the Bedford School, between the ages of 14 and 18. He then served as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines for two years, but World War II ended before he saw actual combat.

Following the war, Fowles studied French and German at New College, Oxford. He later referred to this period as "three years of heaven in an intellectual sense," and it was during this time that he was exposed to the Celtic romances and the existential works of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. After graduating from Oxford, Fowles began a teaching career that took him first to France where he taught English at the University of Poiters and then to Spetsai, a Greek island, where he taught at Anorgyrios College. It was on Spetsai that Fowles met Elizabeth Whitton. Three years later, on April 2, 1954, they were married in England.

Fowles continued to earn a living through a variety of teaching assignments until the success of his first published work, The Collector, allowed him to retire with his wife and her daughter to Lyme Regis in Dorset. He continued to live in this quiet sea-coast town—intentionally isolated from English literary circles—where he wrote, gardened, and pursued his interests in natural and local history.

It was not until Fowles was in his early 20s that he began his writing career. After translating a poem by Pierre de Ronsard he was able to overcome that fear of self expression that he once suggested is common to all Englishmen. Fowles' first serious attempts at writing took place on Spetsai, amidst the natural splendors of the Greek landscape. His experience of the mystery and majesty of this island was a powerful influence. Not only did he write poetry, which appeared later in his collection Poems, but this setting also provided the inspiration for The Magus, a work that would obsess the writer for many years. Leaving Greece was a painful experience for Fowles, but one that he saw as having been necessary to his artistic growth. "I had not then realized that loss is essential for the novelist, immensely fertile for his books, however painful to his private being."

While back in England and teaching in a variety of positions in the London area, Fowles worked on several manuscripts but was dissatisfied with his efforts and submitted none for publication until 1963, when The Collector appeared. The Collector is the story of Frederick Clegg, a poorly educated clerk of the lower-class and an amateur lepidopterist, who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young art student, Miranda Grey. Clegg wins a large sum of money in a football pool, enabling him to carry out a plan of kidnap and imprisonment. The narrative shifts, with the first part of the book told from Clegg's point of view and the second recounting the imprisoned Miranda's perspective. The characters of Miranda and Clegg, set in opposition, embody the conflict that Fowles, reaching back to Heraclitus, finds central to mankind—the few versus the many, the artistic versus the conventional, the aristoi versus hoi polloi. As Fowles noted, "My purpose in The Collector was to analyse, through a parable, some of the results of this confrontation." This theme, as well as a concern with freedom and authenticity and parallel realities, recurred in later novels. Miranda, according to Fowles, "is an existential heroine although she doesn't know it. She's groping for her own authenticity."

The commercial success of The Collector enabled Fowles next to publish The Aristos: A Self-Portrait in Ideas. As the title suggests, this volume consists of a collection of philosophical statements covering diverse areas but aimed at proposing a new, ideal man for our times—the Aristos. The publication of this book at that time probably owed something to the fact that The Collector, in spite of its popular reception, was denied critical consideration by many who failed to look past its thriller format.

Fowles' next published work, The Magus, was, according to its author, "in every way except that of mere publishing date … a first novel." Using Spetsai as his model, Fowles created the island of Phraxos where Nicholas Urfe, a young English schoolmaster, meets Maurice Conchis, the enigmatic master of an island estate. Through a series of bizarre "godgames," Conchis engineers the destruction of Nicholas' perception of reality, a necessary step in the achievement of a true understanding of his being in the world. While The Magus was first published in 1965, Fowles issued a revised edition in 1977 in which he had rewritten numerous scenes in an attempt to purify the work he called an "endlessly tortured and recast cripple" which had, nonetheless, "aroused more interest than anything else I have written."

Fowles was at work on a new manuscript when in 1966 he envisioned a woman in black Victorian garb standing on a quay and staring out at the sea. She "was Victorian; and since I always saw her in the same static long shot, with her back turned, she represented a reproach on the Victorian Age. An outcast. I didn't know her crime, but I wished to protect her." The vision recurred, became an obsession, and led eventually to The French Lieutenant's Woman, a Victorian novel in manner and mores, but contemporary and existential in viewpoint. Fowles' rejection of the posture of omniscient narrator exhorted both characters and readers to grapple with possibilities and to grow through the pursuance of mystery which "pours energy into whoever seeks the answer to it." The novel was made into a popular film of the same name in 1981.

In 1974 Ebony Tower, a collection of stories, appeared. The work was televised 10 years later. The title story is a concise re-evocation of the confrontation between the pseudosophisticated man of the world with the reclusive shaman who shatters his poorly conceived notions of reality, a theme more broadly enacted in The Magus. This volume contains a translation of a 12th-century romance written by Marie de France, and in a personal note preceding this translation Fowles paid tribute to the Celtic romance, stating that in the reading of these tales the modern writer is "watching his own birth." Fowles' original title for this collection was Variations while these stories are original and unique, they are connected to each other and to the earlier works by an underlying sense of loss, of mystery, and of a desire for growth.

Daniel Martin, perhaps the most autobiographical of Fowles' novels, draws upon his early experiences of the Devonshire countryside as well as his later involvement in the Hollywood film industry. It appeared in 1974 to mixed reviews. While some critics faulted its rambling structure and lack of narrative suspense, others regarded it as a more honest, straightforward recounting of personal confrontation with one's own history. Mantissa (1982) though more cerebral, demonstrated a continuing concern with the artist's intrapersonal conflicts.

In 1996, a new edition of Fowles' essay The Tree was published, and along with it the essay The Nature of Nature, written some 15 years later when the author was approaching 70, suffering from a crippling illness and taking what one reviewer described as "a more immediate look at last things." In The Nature of Nature, Fowles wrote, "Illness has kept me even more alone than usual these last two years and brought me closer to being, though that hasn't always been very pleasant for my body. What has struck me about the acutely rich sensation of beingness is how fleeting its apprehension … the more you would capture it, the less likely that you will."

While Fowles' reputation was based mainly on his novels and their film versions, he demonstrated expertise in the fields of nature, art, science, and natural history as reflected in a body of non-fictional writings. Throughout his career, Fowles committed himself to a scholarly exploration of the place of the artist in contemporary society and sought the personal isolation and exile that he felt essential to such a search. While his roots in Western culture were broad and deep, he earned a reputation as an innovator in the evolution of the contemporary novel. He was a spokesperson for modern man, steeped in science, yet ever aware that what he more deeply needs is "the existence of mysteries. Not their solutions."

Further Reading

Non-fiction works by John Fowles included Shipwreck (1974); Islands (1978); The Tree (1979); and The Enigma of Stonehenge (1980). For further insights into the life and works of John Fowles see H. W. Fawkner, The Timescapes of John Fowles (1984), which contains a forward by Fowles himself; Robert Huffaker, John Fowles (1980); Barry Olshen, John Fowles (1978); and Peter Wolfe, John Fowles (1976).

Additional Sources

Loveday, Simon, The Romances of John Fowles, St. Martin's Press, 1985.

Pifer, Ellen, Critical Essays of John Fowles, G.K. Hall, 1986.

Tarbox, Katherine, The Art of John Fowles, University of Georgia Press, c1988.

Salami, Mahmoud, John Fowles' Fiction and the Poetics of Post-modernism, Associated University Presses, c1992.

Aubrey, James R., John Fowles: A Reference Companion, Greenwood Press, 1991.

Foster, Thomas C., Understanding John Fowles, University of South Carolina Press, c1994. □

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Fowles, John 1926–2005

Fowles, John 1926–2005

(John Robert Fowles)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for SATA sketch: Born March 31, 1926, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England; died November 5, 2005, in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. Author. Fowles was a popular British author best known for his post-modernist novels The French Lieutenant's Woman and The Magus. After a shaky early education, during which he dropped out of the Bedford School at age fifteen due to a nervous breakdown and then briefly attended Edinburgh University, Fowles untertook two years of compulsory military service from 1945 to 1947. He then enrolled at New College, Oxford, to study French, finally completing a B.A. in 1950. During the early 1950s, he taught for short periods at the University of Poitiers, at a school in Greece, and at Ashridge College. He settled down at St. Godric's College, London, where he taught from 1954 to 1963. That year, his first bestseller, The Collector, was published. He followed this with two novels that would gain him even more acclaim: The Magus (1966; revised edition, 1977) and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), the latter winning the W.H. Smith Literary Award and the Silver Pen Award. All three novels would be adapted to film, with The Magus featuring a script by the author. These novels were not only popular with the general public, but critics praised them as well, citing the author's unabashed experimentations with narrative and plot structure. Fowles, however, disliked the fame that accompanied the popularity of his novels, and he became known for his efforts to avoid the public at any cost. He most enjoyed spending time in his garden, appreciating the flowers, birds, and butterflies there. After the 1960s, he wrote less fiction, releasing the short-story collection The Ebony Tower (1974) and three more novels: Daniel Martin (1977), Mantissa (1982), and A Maggot (1985). He also penned a poetry collection, Poems (1973). The majority of Fowles' later output, included essays, histories, translation work, and his published journals. He spent his time quietly in Lyme Regis, where he served as honorary curator of the museum there from 1979 to 1988. After that time poor health, including heart problems, and the death of his first wife in 1990, affected his work. His last works were his two-volume The Journals (2003, 2005).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

BOOKS

Fowles, John, The Journals, Jonathan Cape (London, England), Volume 1, 2003, Volume 2, 2005.

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, November 8, 2005, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2005, p. B10.

New York Times, November 8, 2005, p. A29.

Times (London, England), November 8, 2005, p. 58.

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Fowles, John

John Fowles, 1926–2005, English writer, b. Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, grad. Oxford, 1950. A complex, cerebral writer and a superb storyteller, Fowles was interested in manipulating the novel as a genre. His central philosophical proccupation involved the conflict between free will and determinism. His first published novel, The Collector (1963; film 1965), is a study of a clerk who is psychologically impelled to kidnap and murder—that is, "collect" —a girl to whom he is attracted. The Magus (1966, film 1968, rev. ed. 1977) tells of its young protagonist's struggle with the powerful and mysterious title character, the ruler of a Greek island who has garnered a cult following. His best-known work, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969; film 1981) is a multilayered "Victorian" novel that has three alternate endings; it reflects a modern self-consciousness about 19th-century England and the form of the novel itself. Fowles also wrote The Aristos: A Self-Portrait in Ideas (1964) and other nonfiction works; The Ebony Tower (1974), a collection of stories; and the novels Daniel Martin (1977), Mantissa (1982), and A Maggot (1985).

See his The Journals, Vol. I, 1949–1965 (2005), Vol. II, 1966–1990 (2006); biography by E. Warburton (2004); D. L. Vipond, ed., Conversations with John Fowles (1999); studies by P. Wolf (1979), D. Pifer, ed. (1986), C. M. Barnum (1988), K. Tarbox (1989), P. Cooper (1991), T. C. Foster (1994), J. Acheson (1998), and W. Stephenson (2003).

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Fowles, John (Robert)

FOWLES, John (Robert)

Nationality: British. Born: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, 31 March 1926. Education: Bedford School, 1940-44; Edinburgh University, 1944; New College, Oxford, B.A. (honors) in French 1950. Military Service: Served in the Royal Marines, 1945-46. Family: Married Elizabeth Whitton in 1954 (deceased 1990); married Sarah Smith in 1998. Career: Lecturer in English, University of Poitiers, France, 1950-51; teacher at Anargyrios College, Spetsai, Greece, 1951-52, and in London, 1953-63. Awards: Silver Pen award, 1969; W.H. Smith Literary award, 1970; Christopher award, 1981. Honorary fellow, New College, Oxford, 1997. D. Litt., Exeter University, 1983; University of East Anglia, 1997. Address: c/o Jonathan Cape Ltd, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, England.

Publications

Novels

The Collector. London, Cape, and Boston, Little Brown, 1963.

The Magus. Boston, Little Brown, 1965; London, Cape, 1966; revised edition, Cape, 1977; Little Brown, 1978.

The French Lieutenant's Woman. London, Cape, and Boston, LittleBrown, 1969.

Daniel Martin. Boston, Little Brown, and London, Cape, 1977.

Mantissa. London, Cape, and Boston, Little Brown, 1982.

A Maggot. London, Cape, and Boston, Little Brown 1985.

Short Stories

The Ebony Tower: Collected Novellas. London, Cape, and Boston, Little Brown, 1974.

Plays

Don Juan, adaptation of the play by Molière (produced London, 1981).

Lorenzaccio, adaptation of the play by Alfred de Musset (producedLondon, 1983).

Martine, adaptation of a play by Jean Jacques Bernard (producedLondon, 1985).

Screenplays:

The Magus, 1968.

Poetry

Poems. New York, Ecco Press, 1973.

Conditional. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1979.

Other

The Aristos: A Self-Portrait in Ideas. Boston, Little Brown, 1964;London, Cape, 1965; revised edition, London, Pan, 1968; Little Brown, 1970.

Shipwreck, photographs by the Gibsons of Scilly. London, Cape, 1974; Boston, Little Brown, 1975.

Islands, photographs by Fay Godwin. London, Cape, 1978; Boston, Little Brown, 1979.

The Tree, photographs by Frank Horvat. London, Aurum Press, 1979; Boston, Little Brown, 1980; published as The Tree; The Nature of Nature: Two Essays, with woodcuts by Aaron Johnson. Covelo, California, Yolla Bolly Press, 1995.

The Enigma of Stonehenge, photographs by Barry Brukoff. London, Cape, and New York, Summit, 1980.

A Brief History of Lyme. Lyme Regis, Dorset, Friends of the LymeRegis Museum, 1981.

A Short History of Lyme Regis. Wimborne, Dorset, Dovecote Press, 1982; Boston, Little Brown, 1983.

Land, photographs by Fay Godwin. London, Heinemann, and Boston, Little Brown, 1985.

Lyme Regis Camera. Stanbridge, Dorset, Dovecote Press, 1990;Boston, Little Brown, 1991.

The Man Who Died: A Story (commentary) by D. H. Lawrence. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1994.

Wormholes: Essays and Occasional Writings, edited and introduced by Jan Relf. New York, H. Holt, 1998.

John Fowles and Nature: Fourteen Perspectives on Landscape, edited by James R. Aubrey. Madison, New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999.

Editor, Steep Holm: A Case History in the Study of Evolution. Sherborne, Dorset, Allsop Memorial Trust, 1978.

Editor, with Rodney Legg, Monumenta Britannica, by John Aubrey. Sherborne, Dorset Publishing Company, 2 vols., 1981-82; vol. 1, Boston, Little Brown, 1981.

Editor, Thomas Hardy's England, by Jo Draper. London, Cape, andBoston, Little Brown, 1984.

Translator, Cinderella, by Perrault. London, Cape, 1974; Boston, Little Brown, 1975.

Translator, Ourika, by Claire de Durfort. Austin, Texas, Taylor, 1977.

*

Bibliography:

"John Fowles: An Annotated Bibliography 1963-76" by Karen Magee Myers, in Bulletin of Bibliography (Boston), vol. 33, no. 4, 1976; John Fowles: A Reference Guide by Barry N. Olshen and Toni A. Olshen, Boston, Hall, 1980; "John Fowles: A Bibliographical Checklist" by Ray A. Roberts, in American Book Collector (New York), September-October, 1980; "Criticism of John Fowles: A Selected Checklist" by Ronald C. Dixon, in Modern Fiction Studies (Lafayette, Indiana), Spring 1985.

Manuscript Collection:

University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Critical Studies:

Possibilities by Malcolm Bradbury, London, Oxford University Press, 1973; The Fiction of John Fowles: Tradition, Art, and the Loneliness of Selfhood by William J. Palmer, Columbia, University of Missouri Press, 1974; John Fowles: Magus and Moralist by Peter Wolfe, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Bucknell University Press, 1976, revised edition, 1979; Etudes sur The French Lieutenant's Woman de John Fowles edited by Jean Chevalier, Caen, University of Caen, 1977; John Fowles by Barry N. Olshen, New York, Ungar, 1978; John Fowles, John Hawkes, Claude Simon: Problems of Self and Form in the Post-Modernist Novel by Robert Burden, Würzburg, Königshausen & Neumann, and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1980; John Fowles by Robert Huffaker, New York, Twayne, 1980; "John Fowles Issue" of Journal of Modern Literature (Philadelphia), vol. 8, no. 2, 1981; Four Contemporary Novelists by Kerry McSweeney, Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1982, London, Scolar Press, 1983; John Fowles by Peter J. Conradi, London, Methuen, 1982; Fowles, Irving, Barthes: Canonical Variations on an Apocryphal Theme by Randolph Runyon, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1982; The Timescapes of John Fowles by H.W. Fawkner, Rutherford, New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983; Male Mythologies: John Fowles and Masculinity by Bruce Woodcock, Brighton, Harvester Press, 1984; The Romances of John Fowles by Simon Loveday, London, Macmillan, 1985; "John Fowles Issue" of Modern Fiction Studies (Lafayette, Indiana), Spring 1985; The Fiction of John Fowles: A Myth for Our Time by Carol M. Barnum, Greenwood, Florida, Penkevill, 1988; The Art of John Fowles by Katherine Tarbox, Athens, University of Georgia Press, 1988; Form and Meaning in the Novels of John Fowles by Susana Onega, Ann Arbor, Michigan, UMI Research Press, 1989; John Fowles: A Reference Companion by James R. Aubrey, New York, Greenwood Press, 1991; Point of View in Fiction and Film: Focus on John Fowles by Charles Garard, New York, P. Lang, 1991; John Fowles's Fiction and the Poetics of Postmodernism by Mahmoud Salami, Rutherford, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1992; Something and Nothingness: The Fiction of John Updike and John Fowles by John Neary, Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1992; Understanding John Fowles by Thomas C. Foster, Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1994; John Fowles by James Acheson. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1998; Conversations with John Fowles, edited by Dianne L. Vipond. Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1999.

* * *

John Fowles is a highly allusive and descriptive novelist. In all his fictions, situations and settings are carefully and lavishly done: the French country landscape of "The Cloud" (The Ebony Tower ); the blues and purples of the stark New Mexican mountains, the soft rainy contours of Devon in various greens and greys, the bleak and menacing deserts of Syria, all in Daniel Martin. Most frequently, Fowles's richly painted settings conceal a mystery, as in the title story of The Ebony Tower, in which an old English painter has created his "forest" in France, like that of Chrétien de Troyes, a "mystery island" to break away from the closed formal island into "love and adventure and the magical." The lush Greek island of The Magus conceals mystery and magic, a stage for the complicated and elaborate series of theatricals that enchant, enslave, and instruct a young Englishman who has taken a teaching job there. The five eighteenth-century travellers in A Maggot go through the deep vales and caverns near Exmoor, which lead to death for one, to a vision of paradise that may have helped establish a new religion for another, and to unknowable disappearance for a third. Often, Fowles's characters, like Nicholas Urfe in The Magus or the interrogating magistrate in A Maggot, try to solve the mysteries, to make sense of what happens as they confront new worlds, but they are not entirely successful. Frequently, as in the short story "The Enigma," in which a solid, stable, middle-aged Tory M.P. simply disappears, Fowles does not resolve the mystery and concentrates on the implications for others in living in terms of what is finally unknown.

In staging his mysteries, in choosing what to reveal and what to conceal, Fowles has often been seen by readers as manipulative. Such manipulation, however, is not merely a matter of tricks, ingenious switches, or "the God-game." Rather, the sense of "reality" as something that has to be manipulated, rearranged, in order to be understood is central to Fowles's conception of both the nature and the function of fiction. When victimized by a mock trial in the culminating theatrical invented for him, Nicholas Urfe realizes that he is only getting what he has deserved, for "all my life I had tried to turn life into fiction, to hold reality away." Mantissa, the title itself suggesting a trivial addition to literature, consists of a debate between the novelist and his erotic muse about the nature of fiction which satirizes simplistic solipsistic positions like "Serious modern fiction has only one subject: the difficulty of writing serious modern fiction." The novelist's manipulation is more complex and immediately recognizable in The French Lieutenant's Woman, which is full of parodies of old novelistic devices, switches in time and history, and frequent interruptions of the Victorian narrative that acknowledge the author's deliberate arrangements. The reader is constantly led to question what "Victorian" means, to recognize the texture of anachronism, parody, research, quotations from Marx, Darwin, Victorian sociological reports, Tennyson, Arnold, and Hardy as various means of demonstrating the conditional nature of time and history, the necessity of locating oneself in the present before one can understand anything of the past. The novel also has three endings, not simply as a form of prestidigitation, but as a demonstration that three different possible resolutions, each characterizing a different possible perspective itself historically definable, are consistent with the issues and characters Fowles has set in motion. A Maggot deploys strategies of similar contemporary interruptions, like the child opening a gate for the travellers on horse-back who is thrown a farthing that falls "over her bent crown of no doubt lice-ridden hair," or the actor playing a London merchant who changes from "anachronistic skinhead" to "Buddhist monk," to present a conflict between legalistic dialogue and the origins of religion or art, later explained as a version of the universal conflict between the left-lobed brain and the right, in terms of its modern genesis in the socially static period of the 1730s. Only in Mantissa and in parts of Daniel Martin do Fowles's speculations about the nature of fiction become arid and modish.

The allusive references of Fowles's ingenious fictions have generally widened and deepened over the course of his development. In his first novel, The Collector, more sensational than those that followed, Fowles attempted to probe psychologically and sociologically on a single plane of experience, to demonstrate what in a young man of one class caused him to collect, imprison, and dissect the girl from another class he thought he loved. The fabrications of The Magus extend further into history, legend, and myth, exploring various kinds of Gods, of perspectives "real" and imaginary (one can never finally draw a line between the two) that negate human freedom. A number of the long stories of The Ebony Tower, like "Eliduc," retell ancient myths or recreate them in contemporary terms. The French Lieutenant's Woman, with all its literary, historical, and artistic allusions, shows what of the story is of the past, what of the present, and what indeterminate, for history, for Fowles, invariably includes much of the time and perspective of the historian. Thematically, Daniel Martin is, in some ways, an expansion of The French Lieutenant's Woman, an analysis of Fowles's own generation, the last in England that might still be characterized as Victorian, "brought up in some degree of the nineteenth century since the twentieth did not begin until 1945." Daniel Martin also makes explicit a theme implicit in Fowles's earlier fiction, the paralyzing and complicated effects of all the guilts originating in the Victorian past, what he calls a "pandemic of self-depreciation" that leads to emotional insularity and to the capacity to live gracefully with loss rather than expending effort to change. In this novel, which ranges geographically (America, Italy, and the Middle East, as well as England) and historically (past wars and cultural legends), the guilt and self-depreciation are also attached to attractions to lost civilizations, the American Indians, the Minoans, the Etruscans, and the contemporary English. A Maggot, following the metaphor of the "larval stage of a winged create," but also, according to Fowles, meaning in the eighteenth century a "whim or quirk an obsession," expands its terms historically into a vision of possible humanity, an "almost divine maggot" attempting social and religious change against "reason, convention, established belief."

Until the fictional focus on the mother and the creation of Ann Lee, the historical founder of the Shaker religion, in A Maggot, Fowles's central characters have been isolated, rational, self-punishing males who attempted to join with independent, passionate, and enigmatic women. As the voice of the author in The French Lieutenant's Woman claims, he may be simply transferring his own inabilities to understand the enigmatic female into the safety of his historically locatable Victorian story. The sexual focus, however, with its attendant guilts and metaphorical expansions, is characteristic, and the novels develop the rational and sometimes manipulative means the male uses to try to understand and control the amorphous and enigmatic female. The male is always limited, his formulations and understandings only partial. And, in his frustration, the necessity that he operate in a world where understanding is never complete, he acts so as to capture (The Collector ), desert (The Magus ), betray (The French Lieutenant's Woman ), relate to through art (Mantissa ), or both betray and finally recover (Daniel Martin ) the female he can only partially comprehend. In A Maggot, the prestidigitating male finally disappears from the fiction entirely, leaving the woman, who incorporates both whore and saint, to bring forth significant life herself. Fowles has treated his constant metaphorical focus on relationships between the sexes with growing insight, sympathy, and intelligence, as well as with a fascinating complexity of sociological, historical, and psychological implications of the incessant human effort involved.

James Gindin

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Fowles, John Robert

Fowles, John Robert (1926– ) English novelist. His debut novel, The Collector (1963), about an obsessive who kidnaps a young woman, was made into a feature film. The Magus (1966) and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) were also filmed. Later novels include A Maggot (1985) and works on natural history, such as A Short History of Lyme Regis (1982).

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