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John Fowles' The Magus

(24 Posts)
Apocalypto Fri 15-Jul-11 17:52:44

Brilliant or shit?

IreadthereforeIam Fri 15-Jul-11 19:24:56

I loved it, but then I do like my literature a bit quirky!

StantonLacy Sat 16-Jul-11 20:07:06

It is shit. Awful.

It is the only book I have ever thrown in the bin - I didn't want to foist it on anyone else.

TheFarSide Sat 16-Jul-11 20:08:46

TOTALLY brilliant

Captures the excitement of being young and discovering the mysteries of life

valiumredhead Tue 19-Jul-11 23:46:35


nothingnatural Wed 20-Jul-11 00:10:06

I loved it when I read it, a vast number of years ago now though. I think I was a rather impressionable teen and loved the Greek Island stuff - It is set in Greece isn't it???

Also have you read The Collector? I loved that one. It's a lot shorter than The Magus so a good introduction to Fowles.

alarkaspree Wed 20-Jul-11 00:16:23

Totally shit. My book club read it recently, on the recommendation of someone who had loved it in her early twenties. Everyone hated it and the person who originally recommended was profusely apologetic.

nothingnatural Wed 20-Jul-11 00:21:38

That's so funny alarkaspree, I often wonder about reading books that I loved in my teens again but then don't want to be disappointed.

All of Fowles heroines tended to be pretty similar didn't they? All lissom and blonde.

Umnitsa Wed 20-Jul-11 00:22:31

One of my favourite books!

MarkMarkMarkMark Wed 20-Jul-11 19:26:20

Brilliant, but like alarkaspree's recommender I was in my 20's when I read it. Would I still think it brilliant? I hope so, but without re-reading I can't be sure. Some books change with you, some get left behind like a friend who never grew up. I'm thinking with Fowles though there should be all kinds of new goodies waiting for me that required 2 more decades of life to really appreciate?

IndridCold Mon 25-Jul-11 10:13:17

I loved it too but, as mentioned above, I was in my twenties when I read it.

You need to be aware that there were two versions; the original 60s one, and the revised 70s one. The original is by far the better version IMO.

I loved the Collector too, but loathed all his other books. DH implodes at the mere mention of A Maggot grin.

coastgirl Mon 25-Jul-11 10:22:26

I thought the Collector was great, but the Magus seemed terribly pretentious to me. And I really disliked the female characters.

Apocalypto Mon 25-Jul-11 17:42:34

I loved The Magus and The Collector, hated pretty well everything else, and as I read more Fowles I liked The Magus less.

For one thing his characters often don't ring true. They are all fairly horrible people. The narrator of The Magus is pretty obnoxious, but then so are all the female characters - I think it's because they're all so humourless and artsy-fartsy. The woman in The Collector was ghastly too and completely up herself.

What irritates me most is how all the males are bearded old lefty gits who are irresistibly attractive to young nubile women because of their deeply seductive intellect. The women are never attached to lagerous rugby players of their own age, and indeed on Planet Fowles there never seem to be any other young men around at all to compete with the boring intellectual old fart.

The worst offender is Daniel Martin but there is another short story where the narrator wakes up in an NHS sex clinic and an attractive nurse tugs him off then strips off her uniform and impales herself on him as part of the treatment. It's a dirty old man's fantasy. If they'd filmed either of those they would have had to cast Sid James as the narrator and make sure he had food stuck in his beard.

Apocalypto Mon 25-Jul-11 17:44:01

@ IndridCold

In the intro to the 70s version doesn't he basically admit that he dirtied it up a bit? There are some Harold Robbins moments in there for sure.

IndridCold Tue 26-Jul-11 15:30:50

@ Apocalypto - yes, that's basically what he did but by making the two protagonists (can't even remember who they were now!) have sex he lost all of the dramatic tension of the story.

BTW your summary of JF's body of work has just made me ROFL - spot on though grin.

Bunbaker Tue 26-Jul-11 15:42:05

I have read it twice because I loved it. I must have been in my early 20s when I first read it and then read it again about 10 years later. I enjoyed as much the second time round.

Apocalypto Wed 27-Jul-11 20:56:02

@ Indrid

It was Nicholas and Julie / June. Australian cipher ex-girlfriend = Alison, hence cryptic crossword clue "she's all mixed up but the better part of Nicholas".

Now you mention it, the rumpy pumpy scene with the blonde goddess did indeed feel a bit crowbarred in. Ie you could skip it and it would all still work.

Apparently this is v noticeable in early 70s bookstand novels - a bit of explicit filth came to be expected. I've not read it but my brother tells me it's like this in Day of the Jackal where there are slotted-in scenes of lurve the plot doesn't need.

The worst thing about JF is the earnest 20somethings crapping on about how life's so like The Tempest and oh I must shag that old git.

Exactly how you think when you're 20 and locked into a cellar...

And he keeps using the word "guying" to mean "irritating" and affaire when he means "affair", though in fairness that's the arse narrator talking.

Goldensnitchberry Wed 27-Jul-11 20:59:32

Absolutely hated it. Unbelievably pretentious. To me, it just seemed like Fowles was yelling 'Look at me, I'm just soooo bloody clever, aren't I?' from every page.

titferbrains Wed 27-Jul-11 21:01:30

Loved it tho I think my stuck up 20yo self responded to the total self-absorption of Nicholas. I do love john fowles tho. Seem to remember enjoying Daniel martin as well! I used to go back and re-read bits of the Magus all the time but haven't done that in years. Does that mean I've finally grown up?? shock

AgathaPinchBottom Wed 27-Jul-11 21:12:25

I adore The Magus and all of JF's novels...he's brillopads.
Read it when I was young and impressionable and thought it was fab.
Read it again more recently and thought it was bloody brilliant all over again.

Apocalypto Thu 28-Jul-11 10:00:47

@ goldsnitch

I feel exactly the same way about Stanley Kubrick.

"Did you understand my film? No? Well that must prove I'm cleverer than you."

Clockwork Orange book = perfect sense. Clockwork Orange film = what?

SecretSquirrels Thu 28-Jul-11 18:54:29

I think I was 19 when I read it, and I was on a Greek island at the time, I loved it then. I went back to it 30 years later and hated it. That's why I seldom re-read books.

motherinferior Thu 28-Jul-11 18:59:51

I first read it at about 17, I think, and at various points thereafter.

The wimmin's movement kind of passed old JF by, didn't it (there are some nasty anti-lesbian snipes in some of his short stories). I retain a lingering affection for the Lyme Regis one, but not enough to remember its title. Unlike Jane Austen's Persuasion, whose title I do remember.

Frankly, if you're after 1970serama, I'd return to the seductive comfort of David Lodge.

Apocalypto Thu 28-Jul-11 20:56:04

@ motherinferior

French Lieutenant's Woman IIRC

indeed, in fact if you think about there are no female characters in JF over about 25 and certainly no fascinating 40 something female intellectuals. It's just old gits, young gits, and nubile blonde totty waiting for the gits to bestow their nobs on them.

quite victorian in a way but then Daniel Martin always struck me as a Victorian novel.

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