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A Maggot

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,744 ratings  ·  80 reviews
In this magnificent and compelling novel, bestselling author John Fowles has created a dazzlingly erotic tale of obsession and desire, madness and murder. Four men and one woman, all traveling under assumed names, are crossing the Devonshire countryside on their way toward a mysterious rendezvous in the spring of 1736. But nothing is as it seems. Before their violent and e ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Plume (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
i tried reading this when i was 15, i think around the time it first came out. perhaps i was too ambitious, because the novel was too much for me, and i gave up. i suppose i just didn't get it. but i can be competitive - even with books, even with myself. so i promised young mark monday that the battle wasn't over, that i'd return to re-engage 25 years later, when i had become an old, wise man...and i would eventually conquer this one.

well, mark, it is now 25 years later.


...and so i p
_A Maggot_ is an interesting novel. It can be approached as an historical mystery, a meta-fictional experiment of mixed narrative form and genre, and a meditation on the injustices inherent in the 18th century social, political and religious mindset. The story proper details a mysterious journey undertaken by five individuals across the English landscape whose destination and purpose is unknown. In addition to this each of the individuals is not what they appear, and may not even be what they th ...more
Dazzling. Stunning. The best I've read of him.

On second reading, the novel holds up remarkably well. It seems at first a study in the perpetuation of literary suspense. The book jumps between third-person narration; a kind of mock-legal deposition which permits multiple narrative voices; essayistic asides, and epistolary elements. The third-person voice often refers to the gap between events at the time of the story--the 1730s--and our present day. For example: "Closer,...groups of children nois
Dec 31, 2013 Stela rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone

The make-believe history is a well-known trick of the postmodernist literature. Here we have a celebrated criminal in Margaret Atwood’s “Alias Grace”, a famous gangster in Mircea Mihaes’ “Woman in Red”, a brought to life portrait in Tracy Chevalier’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, and in all these novels and others reality and fiction are blended beyond recognition, to create literature’s second reality. A sort of non-fiction novels, to borrow Truman Capote’s very deceptive term.

However, whether t
I wrote this review a few years ago. I just moved to a new apartment, and while I rearranged my books in the perfect order, I came across my copy of A Maggot and remembered this, so I shall copy and paste:


My previous experience reading the work of John Fowles is sporadic but rather steady: while taking a “Literature of the Occult” class in college, The Magus was required reading and sometime last winter I made it through The Collector (recommended to me by Maxim magazine, of
Mar 16, 2014 Sera rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Bookish
I found this book to be very strange. At the end of the book, there is an author's note, wherein Fowles describes what he was trying to accomplish when writing the novel. Instead of the note providing an illuminating experience, I found myself scratching my head even more, because I didn't really buy into Fowles attempt to get to B from A.

I found the first half of the book to be pretty interesting, but the second half - not so much. The book is a murder mystery and what happened in relation to t
A Maggot: Another masterpiece from the intimidating mind of John Fowles. In this twisting mystery set in the early 18th century, Fowles is up to his old tricks with his magnificent cerebral teasing. A small group of travellers are on a very mysterious journey that will dance with life, death and madness - and where nothing is what it seems. It feels a playful old yarn until Fowles pulls the rug from under you, and we become deeply engaged with what, in modern times, would be termed a police inve ...more
This is my 3rd John Fowles book, and I never fail to find him interesting. He seems to like to take well-trodden genres (Victorian romance in The French Lieutenant's Woman, historical who-done-it here), lull you into a sense of familiar normalcy, before blasting you with a cold bucket of meta-fictiony post-modernism. This time I was ready for it, and for the most part enjoyed the ride. I suspected that this book wasn't at all what it was pretending to be, and tried to read between the lines. Her ...more
This is a really tough book for me to review, because I am not quite sure that I got it. Or if the point of the book was that you were not supposed to get it. It starts out straight forward enough and enjoyably as a historical mystery novel. We know that the characters are not as they appear, and that there will be truths unveiled as we go along. We know there is a murder, and a disappearance, but then -what? This book sucks me in without ever satisfying my curiosity, and then goes off into some ...more
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I think this has to be one of my favorite books. What this book spoke to me was far beyond a sci-fi story: to me it dealt with topics like equality between genders and races (the feeling you get while reading the book is just how unfair people were treated according to gender and wealth and just how bedazzeled the lawyer is when the woman describes her journey in the utopian world/heaven? where everyone is equal.). I was very much amused at how people disregarded the book as a mediocre attempt a ...more
Gary Daly
Dec 07, 2014 Gary Daly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gary by: John Fowles
I'm a huge fan of John Fowles so I cannot help but be impressed by his work. From the novels I have read this is the what I would call my most favourite, however it's a great, curious and enjoyable book. The manner in which it is told can for some people be a cause for complaint, yet I get the feeling that Fowles may have been in an in-between state of creativity. The plot moves along at an extremely slow pace but the characters as you get to know them are as unknown to the reader as they were w ...more
Ahmet  Kaya
kitabın son 50 sayfası ciddi bir hayal kırıklığı yarattı bende, ilk 400 sayfasında geliştirilen kurgunun mükemmelliği karşısında. bir polisiye-gerilimin 18. yüzyıl ingilteresindeki politik, sosyal, kültürel ve dinsel esintileri-catismalari da içeren bir zenginlikle kurgulanması ve başta yaşanan olayı çözebilmek için okuyucuyu bilimsel açıklamalardan mistisizme, buyuculukten pagan tanrılarına kadar geniş bir yelpazeye sürüklemesi muazzam bir okuma zevki yaşattı, ancak bu tarz romanlarda hep olduğ ...more
Elizabeth Quinn
When I ran out of books to read during a beach vacation in Mazatlan, I found Fowles' 1985 novel A Maggot on a condo share shelf dominated by contemporary genre fiction, and on the strength of my reads of The Collector and The French Lieutenant's Woman, snapped it up. The story begins as an historical novel, with a group of five people -- four men and a woman -- traveling through rural England in 1736, and it's clear early on that none of these people are who they pretend to be. What is not clear ...more
Trent Fingland
An interesting book of historical fiction, written almost entirely in the form of Question/Answer; A 17th century lawyer, Henry Ayscough, interrogates various parties in an effort to discover the whereabouts of a missing son of an important and never-named nobleman.

This format by itself kept me pretty glued up until the three-quarters point, where I experienced a one-two punch to my enthusiasm due to the Q/A losing its initial charm combined with the questioning of the most key of key witnesses
At first I thought the maggot was something figurative, then a woman's testimony told me it was something real. The whole time I read this book, I was attempting to discover what it was really about, but all I concluded is that it's a good bed time book; which means I fell asleep shortly after nearly every time I tried reading it. I did not want to leave it unfinished because I loved the first book I read by Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman, so I kept truckin'. It is not a good book, althou ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in July 2004.

In The French Lieutenant's Woman, Fowles wrote a knowing twentieth century version of a nineteenth century novel. A Maggot is more conventionally a historical novel, set in 1736 but despite fitting better into the genre, it shares much of the ironic self awareness of Fowles' best known work.

The novel starts with something very small - a group of travellers riding across Exmoor, who stop overnight at a small village before heading on again. But a
I like John Fowles's work, so I must have bought this at a book sale in some distant past. I finally read it, and now I see why it has not been included among his best. He claims he wrote this based solely on a picture he had in his mind of a group of people traveling through an English wilderness is the early eighteenth century. I believe that. The plot (I use the term loosely) develops excruciatingly slowly.
Evidently Mr. Fowles couldn't make up his mind how to write the book, or perhaps he
If you're looking for something a little different, here is an odd book - odd format, odd language, odd events. Most of the way through the book, I would have been unable to tell you to what genre The Maggot belongs: Historical? Occult? Mystery? Gothic Thriller? Science Fiction?

It was not an easy read for me, due to the archaic language, but worth the effort, I think. A significant part of my enjoyment from reading this novel came from my struggle with the language, and it was the language that
Reading this was not an experience I would retract, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The style of Q & A throughout most of the book was bold and at first daunting, but I think Fowles pulled it off well. All the characters came to life, and it was interesting to hear accounts of the same intriguing events told from different characters. I felt the pay off for reading the book never came, the investment of finding out the answer to the mystery that took place, never happened. But I reali ...more
It gives a good glimpse into the life of the English people during the early 18th century as a group of travelers are followed around the Devonshire countryside. None are what they seem. A mysterious rendezvous is to take place and one of the travelers is murdered, one disappears, and the remaining three face a murder trial. In the search for truth through the depositions of an arrogant and condesending barrister, Ayscough, you see his contempt for the witnesses. The social classes are easily di ...more
I'd never even heard of John Fowles before I started reading post WWII Brit lit criticism, and then he popped up all over the place. He's better known for The French Lieutenant's Woman, but I chose this book to read first because it seemed more relevant to my purposes (of course I read this for a reading list, what else do I read anything for? Oh, yeah, and bookclub)

It's a strange story - a combination of epistle, deposition and narration, that tells the story of what is either a science fiction
Fowles's The Collector is a creepy, beautifully written look into a kidnapping and the mind of a madman. A Maggot is also a look into the minds of several individuals. Much of it is written in Q/A format, which causes the reader to ask whom he can trust. However, the Q/A format kills some of the realism and excitement and often just feels like a shortcut. It's impossible to ever know what the characters are thinking; there is so much more to an interaction than words on paper. Also, there are su ...more
John Fowles' last novel, and certainly his toughest. This is a sort of hybrid Canterbury Tales / Close Encounters. I don't pretend to understand what Fowles attempted here -- all I could decipher was a group of trekking pilgrims in 17th (?) century (it actually felt like an earlier time than that -- almost medieval) England who witness an extra-terrestrial visitation/abduction and have not the language, nor experience to comprehend it. Fowles, interestingly, creates a narrator investigator who t ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Tina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Insomniacs
The first half of this novel was engrossing and intriguing, but by about page 300 (in my edition) it started to grow very very dull. The last fifty pages would be an insomniac's dream, because it would cure them completely. Why a modern novelist would choose to not tone-down the (authentic-sounding but downright boring) religious prattle is beyond me. Even the big "revelation" of what the title refers to lost most of its luster because the religious crap smothered it (no, I'm not saying religion ...more
I love Fowles' "The Collector" because of its fast pace, well-developed main character and straightforward dialogue. Over the month I spent slogging through A Maggot, I was disappointed to find it had none of these things. The story follows 5 travelers, or more specifically, the interrogation of 3 travelers after one turns up dead and another goes missing. Set in the 17th century, this 1980s book is painfully loyal to the archaic writing style of its fictional time, which would be manageable if ...more
After I'd seen the film of Fowles' 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', I read all of his books I could get my hands on. I loved them all, except for 'The Collector', but I can't remember anything in particular about this novel.
Christopher O'Brien
Interesting thing. No clear cut final answer about what really happened; many pages of testimony, all disagreeing; seems to imply that the girl saw extraterrrestrials in the middle ages, but not confirming it. Seems the main idea is to illustrate, by showing us what the different styles of characters say and do, what different classes of people were like and what their perceptions were like, and WOULD be like in the face of extraordinary events--like Coleridge's project in Lyrical Ballads, 1799. ...more
I have a feeling that writing this book was like taking a walk down a really beautiful but really long scenic road. You want to get to the end because you're late for something, or because your friends and family are waiting for you with open arms, but you can't help but stop and smell all the flowers and gaze off into the distance or take an alternate route even though it's not particularly exciting and doesn't accomplish anything worthwhile. Fowles went on lots of tangents in this book, and al ...more
Michael Rodgers-wilson
More but different mystery from John Fowles. Set in the 1700's but with a science fiction component. Like all his books, mysterious and compelling.
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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 about John Fowles...
The Magus The French Lieutenant's Woman The Collector The Ebony Tower Daniel Martin

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