John Fowles’ The Magus was a literary landmark of the 1960s. Nicholas Urfe goes to a Greek island to teach at a private school and becomes enmeshed in curious happenings at the home of a mysterious Greek recluse, Maurice Conchis. Are these events, involving attractive young English sisters, just psychological games, or an elaborate joke, or more? Reality shifts as the story unfolds.
The Magus reflected the issues of the 1960s perfectly, but even almost half a century after its first publication, it continues to create tension and concern, remaining the page-turner that it was when it was first released.
©1977 J. R. Fowles Ltd (P)2012 Naxos AudioBooks
if you are willing to let yourself get immersed in the world Fowles creates you should be as mesmerized as i was. i read this a long time ago and enjoyed it then, thinking it was one of the better things i've read and now after much time has elapsed i think so again. it is steeped in mystery, existentialism, Greek mythos and more. Fowles is an intelligent writer and a fine craftsman and leaves you with questions to ponder but gives you many clues along the way. I left it this time thinking that the Orpheus and Eurydice myth was key, but there are so many references to Greek myth sprinkled throughout that it may be a blending of several with Orpheus, Hades, Persephone, etc., the fertility strain being the key. I love it, and look forward to revisiting more Fowles. very intellectual and nice to be challenged to puzzle it all out for myself, no easy answers.
Read the whole thing. Yes, I know, 4 words.
Wonderful voices, male and female, different accents, brings the book alive.
This is a hard book to review without being a spoiler, so I'll limit myself to the process of the reader/listener. I spent at least the first third of the book developing a thorough dislike for the protagonist, as Fowles intended. I hated him so completely that I asked myself why I was still listening. This is not a women's novel, no surprise considering the author penned The French Lieutenant's Woman, and more's the pity: Fowles advanced about 85% to where he needed to go. Still, not bad, in the scheme of things, i.e., judged from the perspective of 2013.The remainder of the book builds the major theme, an examination of... individual ethics (now called "personal responsibility") ... in a modern way, considering the book was written in the 60's. That's a poor summary but all I'm willing to give away. It reads and feels like a 60's period piece to one who lived through the era. Don't worry, it's not preachy. A reader who likes to anticipate plot twists will have plenty of material to work with. Ultimately, this is not a novel about plot. That's all I can say. Finish it.
I do have a quibble about the production of this reading. It included numerous quotations in foreign languages without translations. My understanding, not to mention my enjoyment, would have improved with translations!
I found the book to be utter torture, but it is superbly read on NAXOS by Nicholas Boulton. I listened all the way to the bitter end only because I did not want to dismiss a work so highly praised (it's on many 100 Best Novel lists) without reading all of it. Otherwise I found it a waste of time. The characters are utterly shallow and uninteresting: they often seem like literary projections of adolescent sexual fantasies. The prose is laden with so many clichés that the printed book, if indexed, could serve as a list of sentences and expressions for authors to avoid. As a character, only the central figure of the magus himself is interesting, but when all the views of him are finally assembled, they add up to zero. Fowles himself probably didn't know what he was getting at. The entire book is full of pseudo profundities. The '60s were the breeding ground for hollow genius.
I imagine "The Magus" is his weakest work -- at least I hope so! It will be a long time before I am tempted to read "The Collector" and/or "The French Lieutenant's Woman." "The Magus" seems produced for a youthful '60s audience easily beguiled by fathomless mysteries and psychedelic nonsense. There are some striking moments (the passages dealing with the Nazis on the Greek island), but nothing adds up in the end. Watching "The Magus" movie, BTW, is an interesting way to compound one's irritation. Fowles himself wrote the dreadful screenplay which does not match the book in hundreds of important ways.
The man is superb -- getting all the characters' accents clearly distinguished from one another, and reading with conviction. He seems unfazed by passages in foreign languages.
I would rather hear him read this to me than to have to sit still with the book itself.
Yes. I will forever avoid 100 Best lists! I think this novel made it because a generation of LSD stoned English students ended up teaching in college lit departments. Then they got to vote on their favorite novels.
I think you can love this book if you are very young, your hormones are raging and you can project your amorous fantasies onto the characters. It also helps to be fond of detective stories -- although this mystery has no definite resolution. "The Magus" is pulp fiction at its core, but it pretends to be high art.
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