The Recurrent Green Universe of John Fowles

The Recurrent Green Universe of John Fowles

The Recurrent Green Universe of John Fowles

The Recurrent Green Universe of John Fowles

Excerpt

In 1971 John Fowles wrote in his diary: 'Nature, art, then life as it is lived. All those I live among have the reverse order of priorities.' (EUL 102/1/16, 2 July 1971: 71) The natural world is and always has been at the very centre of this writer's existence. In his introduction to Fowles' recently published Journals the editor Charles Drazin notes that the author's chief passion during his boyhood was for nature, and declares that 'this love of nature would remain as central to him as the subsequent pursuit of literature' (2003: x). Fowles' childhood was spent in a London suburb, but the semi-pastoral Leigh-on-Sea of the 1930s contained a stream and field close to the author's house, as well as an extended family, many of whom were enthusiastic naturalists. During the second world war Fowles' family moved to Ipplepen, a village in the Devon countryside, allowing Fowles the pleasure of exploring secluded copses and woods when he was on holiday from boarding school as an adolescent. While Fowles was going to Oxford, and later teaching in Poitiers, Greece and London, he was determinedly plotting a trajectory of literary success, as we have evidence for in his journals. Yet all the while he aspired to greatness as a novelist, nature was a recurring theme and an abiding preoccupation. Throughout the course of his life Fowles has sought time away from cities, in rural Greece, France, Scandinavia, America and England, either as an amateur field naturalist or as as Wordsworthian lover of natural places. Since 1965 Fowles lived in rural Dorset, a haven of wooded hills and valleys within the context of densely populated southern England.

This book undertakes a comprehensive examination of Fowles' engagement with nature from an ecocritical perspective. In Fowles' writings nature clearly does not remain diffidently outside the walls of literary construction. The Magus (1966) sets some of its drama in the mysterious northern forests of Scandinavia, as well as the silent hills of a Greek island, and both places have immense significance for the . . .

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