John Robert Fowles

1926 - 0

novelist whose works combine psychological with social and philosophical aspect of human behaviour

J. Fowles is a graduate from Oxford where he studied French studies and French existentialism. He was fascinated with Medieval French literature which traits are found in his novels. He then worked as an English teacher in Greece and France. In 1966 he moved back to UK where he lives with his wife and children in Lyme Regis.

His literary success is compared to success made by Dickens and G. Eliot. He first published The Collector in 1963, later made into movie in 1965. The novel presents an in-depth analysis of characters' selves. It is a psychological thriller about a man who, in search for love, kidnaps a girl and keeps her captive until the tragic end. The author presents the story through the narration of the protagonist and victim's diary. The novel contains allusions to Shakespeare's The Tempest

In 1964 Fowles writes an essay Aristos in which he presents his opinions on philosophy, society and art. He divides writers into two groups: the first group are people who write in order to express their selves as writers, the second group are writers who write in order to satisfy the reader's needs. Fowles clams to belong to the second group. The search for highly individual writing style leads to barren meanings. The main topic for Fowles' novels is the problem of freedom. A human being lives in a world which constantly changes, but at the same time the man/ aristos keeps truthful to his/her ideas of freedom regardless the changes. Literature encourages the reader to search for their freedom and develops their imagination.

His later novels became immediate best-sellers, The Magus, The French Lieutenant's Woman becoming part of the curriculum at many Universities world-wide. Most of his characters strive for authenticity of their existence like in the two aforementioned novels. Again, the author makes uses of themes from Shakespeare and Middle Ages French romance.

In 1974 Fowles published a set of 5 short stories The Ebony Tower. Initially, the title was to be Variations due to the presentation of various themes already presented in his novels. The longest novel written by Fowles is Daniel Martin published in 1977. It is also regarded as the most ambitious novel with allusions to his biography. The novel presents the process of becoming a writer.

Each of the novels is written within a genre convention; The Collector is a psychological thriller, The Magus is a romance, The French Lieutenant's Woman is a historical novel, Daniel Martin is a realist-autobiographical novel. However, the author leaves an open ending in order to activate reader's imagination. He awaits the reader to have the freedom of his/her choice of 'what happened later". Fowles believes in the educational role of literature.

List of critical essays:
The Aristos
On Being English But not British
Notes on Unfinished Novel
Afterwards: Novelists on Their Novels
Steep Holm: A Case History in the Study of Evolution
The Tree
The Enigma of Stonehenge
A Short Story of Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis, Three Town Walks


John Fowles" The ebony tower" -- The ebony tower

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