Fowles, John

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

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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