Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Magus” as Want to Read:
The Magus
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Magus

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  35,256 Ratings  ·  1,915 Reviews
The Magus is the story of Nicholas Urfe, a young Englishman who accepts a teaching assignment on a remote Greek island. There his friendship with a local millionaire evolves into a deadly game, one in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas must fight for his sanity and his very survival.
ebook, 656 pages
Published December 1st 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1965)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Magus, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Steve There are several analyses out there (you can Google to find them). I have only read the "revised" version--just finished re-reading it today (first…moreThere are several analyses out there (you can Google to find them). I have only read the "revised" version--just finished re-reading it today (first read it shortly after it was released). The book still haunts me, but I will say that I think Fowles understands the existential male better than he understands the existential female.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 03, 2007 MacK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, brit-lit
My students like to use the made up word, "unputdownable." I always laugh at this. I can always put down a book, I can even put down this one. The problem is, I can't seem to stop picking it up again.

We are thrown, whether we like it or not into the addled frantic mind of Nicholas Urfe, a man in the middle of a suspenseful psychological experiment. The only problem is, without telling us, Fowles turns it into a suspenseful philosophical experiment as well. We are left never fully knowing what is
Glenn Russell
Sep 11, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

""The Magus" is a stunner, magnificent in ambition, supple and gorgeous in execution. It fits no neat category; it is at once a pyrotechnical extravaganza, a wild, hilarious charade, a dynamo of suspense and horror, a profoundly serious probing into the nature of moral consciousness, a dizzying, electrifying chase through the labyrinth of the soul, an allegorical romance, a sophisticated account of modern love, a ghost story that will send shivers racing down the spine. Lush, compuls
Jessica Baxter
Sep 12, 2007 Jessica Baxter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book fucked me up. i suppose it could be defined as a "psychological thriller" but its very jungian, steeped in metaphor and symbolism and eroticisim and mythology and shakespeare. its also an intense love story of sorts, the main character is a completely fleshed out, real, flawed person who you relate to and fear for and empathize with. the premise is that this british guy gets a teaching job on a small island in greece soon after WWII ends and becomes intwined in the lives/mind games of ...more
Helen Stavraki
Dec 04, 2016 Helen Stavraki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ανήκει στην κατηγορία των βιβλίων που δεν θα ξεχάσεις ποτέ όταν το διαβάσεις. Έχει μια μυστηριακή πολύπλοκη και πολυεπίπεδη γοητεία που διεισδύει στο μυαλό και σε παρασύρει σε μια δοκιμασία αυτογνωσίας.

Με ολοφάνερη την αγάπη του συγγραφέα για την Ελλάδα της απόλυτης γεωφυσικής και πολιτιστικής θεϊκής κληρονομιάς της, μας μεταφέρει σε ένα ελληνικό νησί όπου συντελείται το μυστήριο-φαντασία-πραγματικότητα,απόκρυφη ανθρώπινη φυση-ελευθερία και αυτοπραγμάτωση- διαλογισμός.

Ο φλεγματικός Άγγλος καθη
Feb 06, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to be bamboozled in extremis
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Here on Goodreads, rather than judging a book by its cover, it is always handier to judge a book based on what your friends and people you are following had to say about it after it had passed under their beady eyes.

I have 91 friends here on Goodreads and follow 6 people and of the 12 friends and three people I'm following, only one (Kingfan30) wrote a review. Even the more loquacious members of the group have chosen to remain silent - Karen, Mike and PetraX - not a jot or a scribble (yet). I c
Oh boy. Here's the thing: If you read this novel as a citizen of 2010, a member of our hyper-speed, uber-connected modern society that navel-gazes in 140 word bytes with little interest in true introspection, The Magus will seem almost comical in its psycho-thrilling, Jungian dribbling plot and Baroque-meets-mod writing style.

If you, dear reader, consider that The Magus was partially written nearly 60 years ago (begun in the early 50s, published in '65, revised in '76), its risky political and
Jan 15, 2008 Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what this book was about. The prose style was nice, but the plot was completely unfathomable. I decided about a third of the way through the book that it was one of the worst things I had ever read. But, due to some strange self-flagellatory compulsion, I told myself there was no way I was going to let it beat me, so I slogged through, teeth clenched, until the end. I found out later that they actually made a movie out of it. About the film, Woody Allen is to have said, "If I could ...more
Dec 15, 2009 Szplug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have rarely been so unpleasantly surprised - and bitterly disappointed - by the sudden turn that a novel takes as with the abrupt shift that occurs roughly mid-way through John Fowles The Magus. The first half introduced the ethereal, creepy and gripping experiences of the young Englishman Nicholas Urfe, estranged from his Australian girlfriend Alison and teaching at a boys school on the remote Greek island of Phraxos. Thoroughly disenchanted with the course his life has taken, and gauging wit ...more
Mar 07, 2012 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Well, everything one might say about this book could be taken as a spoiler, including this very remark.

The book is a pretty good read, or it would have been if it had weighed in at two hundred or so pages shorter. And, given that the book is entirely a gradual denouement, one has to admire Fowles's skill in controlling it over such a long span, like a musician making a hugely long crescendo.

But I guess in the end, I didn't much like the book. In the 'trial' scene, a report is read out a
Jo Woolfardis | Infinite Variety Books
Read as part of the Infinite Variety 2016 Reading Challenge based on the BBC's Big Read poll.

Nicholas Urfe, an Oxford graduate post-war, with no direction and a slight hint of nymphomania, travels to Greece to work as an English teacher on the remote island of Phraxos, mostly to get away from an Australian girl he shagged but doesn't love and wants to ditch.

Unsurprisingly, the remoteness is boring and he is drawn to browsing the island, where he finds an even more remote house in which lives Con
Oct 09, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mystical Sirens on Lush Greek Isle Toy with Reality, Fidelity

"We've all been playing those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil
Doing the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic, the search for the grail"
Lennon, Mind Games, 1973.
[[4.25 stars]]

John Fowles’ now underappreciated novel, where not much is as it seems, is a mystical morality play on love, truth, maturity, reality, and betrayal, both sexual and emotional. The Magus is set on a lush Greek island, limned by the legends o
Oh god, I totally totally hated this boring, rambling, long-as-shit book.
Its like if you took that Most Dangerous Game story and RUINED IT FOREVER.
Jul 17, 2016 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strangely Disturbing Novel, Many Possible Interpretations

This novel is particularly tough to review. It's even tough to rate. I'm very ambivalent about this book. It was interesting, but also frustrating.

The Magus certainly won't be suitable for people who have Twitter-induced Attention Deficit Disorder and must have quick action and a fast pace.

The book's pace is majestically slow, and it takes quite awhile for anything to happen.

It's wordy, too.

In short, it's an old-fashioned novel and it's a
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not exactly sure how to rate this book. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I might read it again at some point, which is generally my personal line for four stars.

I picked this up as one of the books on the BBC's Big Read list, which I am slowly making my way through. I am not sure what to make of it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entir
Reading The Magus was like holding a mirror up to my life, not knowing who it is I'm looking at, not fully understanding where I am or where I've been, and even less certain of where I am going -- not certain of what lessons I've learned or am supposed to be learning, adrift and perplexed about issues of morality/immorality/amorality, not wholly certain if the things I seek and desire aren't already right here in front of me.

I think it's safe to say that The Magus was one of the most profoundly
Feb 18, 2011 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, travel
John Fowles started writing the Magus in the mid-1950s, and struggled with it off and on for the next twelve years. After his first novel, The Collector, became a best-seller, he finally finished the book and published it in 1966. But then, eleven years later, he issued a revised edition, reworking a number of critical scenes. All books reflect the times in which they were written, and this one is no exception. The early scenes are very much a meditation on breaking away from 1950s conformity an ...more
Mar 21, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There is no plan. All is hazard. And the only thing that will preserve us is ourselves.”
― John Fowles, The Magus


What is written here must remain hid(view spoiler)
Jan 24, 2016 Panagiotis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ο Μάγος του Φάουλς είναι ένα από εκείνα τα βιβλία που που όλοι ξέρουμε, αλλά πολλοί δεν έχουμε διαβάσει. Προσωπικά το είχα απωλέσει σε εκείνη την επικράτεια που πάνε όλα τα αργοπορημένα αναγνώσματα: αν δεν έχουν διαβαστεί στην ώρα τους, δηλαδή σε μια ηλικία που ήμουν πιο διαλλακτικός αρκεί να είχε το βιβλίο την φερεγγυότητα της ευρείας αποδοχής, τότε ας μείνει στην σκόνη της άγνοιας. Δεν χάθηκε κι ο κόσμος. Ευτυχώς για μένα, υποχώρησα στις πιέσεις της αδερφής μου και το διάβασα. Θα ήταν μια τερά ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Maureen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, novels
well, the magus. it started off in a very familiar and comfortable place for me: england, and people who fancy themselves poets, and love affairs. the spelling seemed affected: "affaire" was used throughout-- i have promised myself to look into usage here but ultimately i felt there was a lot of pretentious flourishes in this book -- and the one that bothered me most was naming a character "conchis" who then speaks out from the book making sure you get the bad pun by asking that an anglicized pr ...more
Aug 31, 2016 Serem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kitaplık
Büyücü hakkında ne düşünmeliyim bilmiyorum. İlginç bir okuma deneyimi oldu benim için. Kısa bir sürede okuduysam da bunu hikayeye bayıldığım için değil, ufak çaplı bir sinir harbine girdiğimden başardım. Öyle ki hiçbir karakterle empati kuramıyorsunuz, hepsi birbirinden tekinsiz. Sonunda da büyük bir aldatılmış hissiyle kitabın kapağını kapatıyorsunuz.

Bu kitabı sevip sevmediğimi bile bilmiyorum şu an. Zaman geçtikçe fikirlerim netleşir sanıyorum. Emin olduğum tek şey Fowles’ın kalemini sevdim.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 27, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Don't Mind Being Messed With...
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
I find myself caught between rant and rave. More rave, which is why I rated it so high, but enough wish to rant to withhold that fifth star. This is a strange book. In the Foreword to the 1978 Revised edition, Fowles said one title he considered was "The Godgame." A young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, comes in 1953 to the isolated Greek island of Phraxos (modeled on the real island of Spetsai) to teach at an elite boarding school. He's our narrator, our focus through 656 pages, and he's callow, a c ...more
Jun 21, 2016 Elina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Μόλις το τελείωσα. Δεν είμαι σίγουρη ότι μπορώ ακόμα να γράψω κάτι γι αυτό το βιβλίο. Θα χρειαστώ λίγο χρόνο να το σκεφτώ....
Λοιπόν, είχα αρκετό χρόνο να σκεφτώ τον Μάγο. Είναι μερικά βιβλία που μοιάζουν με τον ελληνικό καφέ, δεν μπορείς να μιλήσεις γι αυτά αν πρώτα δεν κάτσει μέσα σου η ουσία τους. Έχω ανάμικτα συναισθήματα για το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο. Για να είμαι βέβαια ειλικρινής πιστεύω ότι μπορεί να είναι κάτι σαν τη βίβλο, να το έχεις πάντα δίπλα στο κομοδίνο σου και ανά διαστήματα να ανατ
Yıllar önce, Nicholas meslektaşım gibi Yunanistan'ı ilk kez keşfe çıktığım yazın sonunda bu kitabı okumuş ve fena çarpılmıştım. Fantastik öğeleri ve mitolojik ve sanatsal anlatımı ile insanı allak bullak eden bir okuma.. Sonunun belirsizliği öyle sinir bozucu ki ancak 5. yıldızı vermeyerek -aklımız sıra- intikamımızı almaya çalışıyoruz John Fowles amcadan!
Jan 21, 2013 Vanessa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this almost twenty years ago because I had it recommended to me by a friend as "the most amzing book I've ever read." Even then, barely out of my teens, this novel read like something a teenaged or fairly immature young man might have written - basically a sexual fantasy/adventure for the twenty-something male protagonist. In brief, bored and bitter English college graduate has fling with Australia stewardess who is crazy about him, dumps her when he goes off to Greece to teach, then beco ...more
Jul 27, 2007 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A month after finishing The Magus, I'm still not quite sure if I loved it or hated it. I suppose that is entirely due to my obsessions with clarity of plot and identification with characters... one moment, you trust and love a character, and think you know exactly where the story is going (or even, is at the moment); the next, the rug is pulled out from under you and all your alliances and expectations have to suddenly change. Frankly, I don't find that sensation particularly pleasant--even as I ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Chris_P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-diamonds
Let him love tomorrow who has never loved, and let him who has loved love tomorrow.

First of all, I would like to thank Panagiotis for unintentionally forcing me psychologically to want to read this.

Now, that was one hell of a ride. A unique literary experience which can't be adequately described. Fowles delivers a coming of age novel, sprinkled with bits of psychological thriller and historic retrospections. We follow Nicholas, an Oxford graduate, as he accepts a job as a teacher in a boardin
Sep 20, 2015 Nikki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Once upon a time, I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman and, to my surprise, rather enjoyed it. It’s not the kind of novel I normally go for, but the writing is good, and it had me intrigued despite myself. So I picked up The Magus, only to leave it on the shelf for a couple of years awaiting some mythical ‘round tuit‘. When it came to picking a book for a challenge that I should’ve read in school, I was pretty stuck, because I nearly always did my reading — the only exception being a Robin Hood ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Krisz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a masterpiece. I read it a couple of years ago and I was super excited for it because it was a beautiful birthday gift from a special person. What can I say about this novel? It was mindblowing, I never predicted anything that happened next, when I had hope that I knew something, guess what? I knew NOTHING. Such an amazing story, my mind was on a rollercoaster all the time. I didn't understand quite well the end, so I plan to re-read it this year, and maybe, get my answers, but with ...more
This is a book about what happens when someone has too much time and money on his hands. Shit gets real, yo.

Really it's about a 25-year-old British guy, Nicholas Urfe, who is somewhat of a douche, but then aren't most 25-year-old boys men douches? They're all rough around the edges and whatnot and it's all about poon and stuff. Nicholas is pretty much that guy. He strikes up a relationship with an Australian chick, Alison, and things are pretty okay for a while until they're not anymore, and Nic
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Lily de Seitas' relationship guidelines 5 209 12 hours, 31 min ago  
De Sade Translations? 5 397 Dec 25, 2016 01:15PM  
Anyone else as disappointed and frustrated as me? 10 154 Aug 08, 2016 04:08AM  
In real life do people actually analyse others the way Nicholas does? 7 119 Aug 17, 2015 05:05PM  
  • Studs Lonigan
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4-6)
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)
  • The Alexandria Quartet  (The Alexandria Quartet #1-4)
  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • Zuleika Dobson
  • Parade's End
  • A High Wind in Jamaica
  • Henderson the Rain King
  • Loving
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • The Ginger Man
  • A Bend in the River
  • The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
  • The Golden Bowl
  • Mulengro
  • Scoop
John Robert Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town located about 40 miles from London in the county of Essex, England. He recalls the English suburban culture of the 1930s as oppressively conformist and his family life as intensely conventional. Of his childhood, Fowles says "I have tried to escape ever since."

Fowles attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys
More about John Fowles...

Share This Book

“The human race is unimportant. It is the self that must not be betrayed."

"I suppose one could say that Hitler didn't betray his self."

"You are right. He did not. But millions of Germans did betray their selves. That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil. But that millions had not the courage to be good.”
“To write poetry and to commit suicide, apparently so contradictory, had really been the same, attempts at escape.” 171 likes
More quotes…