The Magus
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The Magus

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  25,575 ratings  ·  1,378 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)
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MacK
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...more
Jessica Baxter
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
Shovelmonkey1
Feb 06, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Beth
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
Julie
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...more
Szplug
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
Simon
SPOILERS!


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...more
Jake
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
Kelly
Its like if you took that Most Dangerous Game story and RUINED IT FOREVER.
Evan
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...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 27, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Maureen
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
Casey
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
Lavinia
Cu ocazia unei ocazii care n-a mai avut loc. Nov. '05. Gasita la curatenia generala prin computer.

Nu mai tin minte exact cine mi-a recomandat “Magicianul”. Dar tin minte exact parerile unora, pe care i-am intrebat ce impresie le-a facut cartea. Unii mi-au zis ca e ciudata, stufoasa si imbirligata si ca le-a pierit cheful undeva spre jumatate. Altii mi-au spus ca e geniala sau ca nu s-au putut dezlipi de ea si au citit-o in 2 zile intr-o sesiune, in loc sa invete pentru examen.

Mi-am inceput lect...more
Roger
This book is incredible. It is a mind fuck in the extreme. Once you've read it, the book will haunt you forever.
oriana
Oh god, I totally totally hated this boring, rambling, long-as-shit book.
Krisz
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
Chris
Something of an existentialist manifesto disguised as fiction, I think this is a book that you either get or don't--or that you buy or don't. Both bleak and beautiful, I think it's worth everyone giving a shot, because if it resonates with you, you'll have found something truly outstanding. Or you'll be bored on page 35 and can stop there.
Darwin8u
What is written here must remain hid(view spoiler)...more
El
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...more
Tyson
Jan 23, 2008 Tyson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is one of those books that was recommended to me a long time ago, by my Mom, who's opinion I very highly regard. I don't know what I put it off for so long. The book's synopsis captured my imagination. It has a variant of magic realism, a dizzying blurring the real and imagined, a heavy dose of both psychological and pilisophiscal exploration.

The book opens up a labyrinth of a plot where the narrator goes through varying levels of understanding aobut the nture of the labyritnth he's in. He...more
Laura
Another fabulous book written by John Fowles.

This is the story of Nicholas Urfe, an English teacher who accepted a job teaching in a private boy's school in the Greek Island of Phraxos.

By exploring the island during his spare time, he discovers a remote villa owned by Conchis, the magician, the Magus of this story.

His life will change forever after their first meeting. The story has hints of surreal threads with a plenty of psychological game among the main characters.

One you start to read this...more
Vanessa
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
James
While his novel The Collector was my introduction to the work of John Fowles I was not nearly as impressed with that novel as I was with The Magus. In it I found an intense, engrossing novel that maintained my interest in several ways.

The plot of the novel is a story of a young unhappy man who considers himself a poet and a philosopher. He takes a job at an English boarding school on a Greek island to escape what could become a complicated situation after a young woman with whom he is involved f...more
Manny
I liked this book more than Woody Allen did, but only just.
Vegantrav
This book is on the list of the Modern Library of the World's Best Books. I must disagree with this assessment. Although the plot is initially quite intriguing, none of the characters--not the protagonist Nicholas Urfe, not his two love interests (Alison and Lily), and not the antagonist (Maurice Conchis)--is even likable or really even psychologically interesting, and the plot becomes simply unbelievable as the novel advances. Fowles never really gives any reason for the trials and tribulations...more
Stela

That “Polysemantic World”…

“All the world is a stage”, says Shakespeare in As you like it, as if to prove that metafiction is not really a postmodernist concept. Indeed, the theatrum mundi theme is quite an old one, but it has never lost its fascination. The idea of a hidden script every human being is unknowingly led to play has fascinated many an artist who either tried to find thus a logic in life, a pattern in the carpet, or used it to point that mankind was never really granted freedom of ch...more
Elizabeth
Read during finals week, college, 1981. That is why I'm recommending it now in 2014. I can picture myself in my room and on our roof taking breaks from studying. This was my delicious reward and the way I kept plowing through what I had to - even after all these years I can feel how much I loved this book. I totally forgot what it was about and could not come up with the title until today. The title just popped into my head and the second it did I knew I'd finally found the right book. Wild! Wil...more
Stephen
Here is how to read this book: Determine the halfway point in the book, mark that particular hump-day page, read up to that page, and for God's sake STOP there! The first half will give you some interesting views of life from a not particularly interesting or sympathetic main character(I know that may sound like a contradiction, but there it is). The second half will only give you a headache and serious regret. This book was considered hot stuff in the 1960s, but it's grandma stuff today, so if...more
Steven
Like most Fowles novels, this one is far richer than a cursory reading might suggest. The reader who is looking for a colorfully surreal psycho-sexual odyssey into the occult, which the title and most jacket summaries certainly suggest, will of course be rewarded, with the added benefit of it having been rendered in Fowles' immaculate prose style. But it's so much more. The novel's young narrator, Nicholas Urfe, begins by describing some essential details about himself as a naive post-World War...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
yo I'm half way through and should I finish? 11 44 Jul 10, 2014 10:36AM  
In real life do people actually analyse others the way Nicholas does? 5 60 Jul 03, 2014 08:13AM  
his "moments of pederasty" stopped me cold 2 54 Jan 25, 2014 01:16PM  
Anyone else as disappointed and frustrated as me? 8 86 Oct 21, 2013 09:02AM  
Boxall's 1001 Bo...: The Magus 2 61 Oct 15, 2013 05:35PM  
Lily de Seitas' relationship guidelines 3 170 Aug 17, 2013 10:51AM  
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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
More about John Fowles...
The French Lieutenant's Woman The Collector The Ebony Tower A Maggot Daniel Martin

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“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.”
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“To write poetry and to commit suicide, apparently so contradictory, had really been the same, attempts at escape.” 105 likes
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