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3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  1,588 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
In Mantissa (1982), a novelist awakes in the hospital with amnesia -- and comes to believe that a beautiful female doctor is, in fact, his muse.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 4th 1997 by Back Bay Books (first published 1982)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,440)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 24, 2014 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it it was ok
Shelves: read2014
I love John Fowles' other novels like The Magus but there is a reason I had never heard of this book before stumbling across it at a used bookstore. This is like a meta-novel, reflecting on the muses and post-modernism, and I think probably only interesting to John in the moment he mused on muses, and not for long after.

The self-aware characters!

"She looks at him over her glasses. 'I'm supposed to be a twentieth-century woman, Miles. By definition I'm in despair.'"

The self-referential descripti
Oct 12, 2015 Mark marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Oh, John. Good lord. The author of two of my favorite novels ( The Magus and The Collector ) has failed me. I read the first section, which is 45 pages, and 8 pages of the second section, then literally said to myself, What am I doing? This book is terrible.

So I stopped. What a turgid, ham-fisted bore this novel is! I'm amazed, because I usually find Fowles's work so engaging. But this, this was a slog. It reminded me of another book I didn't finish ( Giles Goat-Boy ) in that it's so steeped i
May 22, 2016 Travelin rated it liked it
"Mantissa" means essentially an unnecessary verbal addendum. Mildly amusing, mildly erotic, mildly neurotic. It mostly seems like the work of a dirty old man treading water, mildly undecided between putting sex or love, or some combination of the two, at the sole apex of life, while suspecting those same impulses for trapping him in boring dialogues and marriages. I thought his suggestion to this imaginary woman that she try working as a reviewer was ugly and uncalled for.

Fowles had unaccountabl
Vit Babenco
Mantissa is a novel where a writer ostensibly meets his muse – and this is quite symptomatic because Mantissa is a book in which his muse had left John Fowles.
“And I’ll tell you what a modern satyr is. He’s someone who invents a woman on paper so that he can force her to say and do things no real woman in her right mind ever would,” – a hypothetical muse quite knows what she is talking about…
“The reflective novel is sixty years dead, Erato. What do you think modernism was about? Let alone post-
Jan 10, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it
“Mantissa”, is a meta-fictional curiosity that makes for an interesting read. I enjoyed the symbolic room which brought the reader into the fictional writer's brain. There he conversed, warred and made love with his fictional female character in ping pong fashion. One minute he had the upper hand, the next moment she did; back and forth it proceeded until, in the end, they both fell helplessly into each others arms. Her character changed repeatedly, from a Goth boi to a demur, sensitive young gi ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Stephen rated it it was ok
John Fowles' The Magus is my favourite book but for I did not find Mantissa an enjoyable book. My knowledge of Greek Mythology and the Muses is very limited, as is my knowledge of modernism, post-modernism and theory of literature. Thus, I may have missed many of the points he was trying to put across. In some parts I enjoyed his verbal jousting and sparring with his two characters, but eventually I tired of being yanked back into reality and the theory of the modern novel. As I said before, I m ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Andreea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
o voi reciti candva..:/
Deniz Balcı
Jan 23, 2016 Deniz Balcı rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ne desem bilemiyorum. Öncelikle bunu bir roman olarak ele almak bana doğru gelmiyor şuan. Bu yaratıcı-ilham verici / kadın-erkek arasında kurgulanmış, yoğun mitolojik, psikolojik ve felsefik kodlarla dolu, postmodern bir diyalektikle ilerleyen bir kitap. Haliyle yazarın diğer kitapları gibi bir solukta okunacak gibi değil. Zorlayıcı. Genellikle zorlayan kitaplar okumaktan kaçmam fakat bu kitabı "Büyücü" gibi aşkla okuyacağımı düşünerek, o tarz bir beklenti ile elime alınca biraz tökezledim. Yine ...more
Natalia Oprea
Jun 19, 2014 Natalia Oprea rated it liked it
i found this book both enjoyable and frustrating.All his theories about novel and the historical details about British novelists and poets exceeded my humble knowledge. Even so, i endured a few pages in which i was almost clueless for the sake of his hilarious dialogues between the male and the female selves. as a girl, at first i found Fowles's interpretation of the female character a bit misogynist but even so, completely accurate. I think both descriptions were very honest and extremely funny ...more
Sep 21, 2009 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fowles self-parody; his most comic novel (although there aren't many belly-laughs). The protagonist immediately finds himself in a padded cell in some sort of asylum. It quickly becomes apparent that the entire scenario is a metaphor for Fowles' mind, the writing of his novels, and his response to literary criticism. Mantissa also reveals much about Fowles' writing process and literary outlook. Fowles admitted it was a bagatelle, a mere side-note novel (hence the title), but I found the book mor ...more
Jul 15, 2016 cristinastancu2016 rated it did not like it
Although I am a huge fan of John Fowles (madly in love with "The Magus" and "The French lieutenant's woman"), I found "Mantissa" a bloody bore. It tries to be playful and funny and at first, this may seem courageous and exciting. All the values of modern literature become puns and little ironies, with a protagonist eager to write well and to find his authentic inner voice. Instead of creating a fascinating experiment, this time John Fowles mingles unsuccessfully two ways of storytelling: the tr ...more
Aug 30, 2007 Kara rated it it was ok
while clever, it was writing at its most self indulgent, and that can alienate the reader. i enjoy a book that pulls the rug out from under me to a point, but an author can only do that so many times before trust is lost and you don't care about the characters anymore. plus i'm not big into the breaking the fourth wall trend that swept the arts in the 80's. i like the fourth wall where it is, it's why i read fiction!
May 22, 2010 Surreysmum rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction, 1983
[This note was made in 1983:]. John Fowles' Mantissa left me perplexed - not because I couldn't figure out that it's a novel about the creative process; that much stares you in the face - but because I can't quite put my finger on why it leaves a bad taste in my mouth (said she, madly mixing metaphors). Perhaps the book's streak of narcissism was just too broad for my priggish tastes?
Oct 04, 2011 hilary rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I love John Fowles, but this is ridiculous. It's one of those things where you feel like you've been hanging out at someone's house for dinner and you realize they've spent the last three hours talking about how Seriously Awesome they are in every way, and you just want to go home and forget the evening entirely because there was nothing of actual value in the whole thing.
Nov 29, 2014 Ron rated it it was ok
A rather effete fantasy, with lots of passing po-mo references and elaborate arguments about the relation between artistic inspiration and the forces of eros and thanatos. I think. A writer conjures up his muse, The Muse, Erato, who takes several modern day guises, even as she reminisces about her prior lovers, all those guys back in Greece, as well as younger bucks like Keats and so on. Worth reading, and then forgetting fairly quickly
I thought it was going to be a more challenging read than it
Dec 24, 2014 Sookie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2014
It was a chore to read this book. The dialogues were complex and was too tedious to keep up with the deflection and segues that I could not understand. Took me longer than I anticipated but I managed to trudge it through.
Apr 21, 2016 Avie added it
First let me tell you that this book came to me purely by chance, it was among several others in a discarded pile, a nearby sign asking passers by to "please take one and pass it on", and me being the book lover that I am could not walk past without stopping to have a look, enter Mantissa...

Complex. At times I wasn't sure what was going on but then, neither were the characters. A quirky novel that is more like a play? Some interesting commentary on literature, its past and its evolution. Explore
Michael O.
Oct 26, 2013 Michael O. rated it it was ok
If you like existentialist metafiction, maybe you'll like this. But I don't, no matter how well written it is.
Jul 16, 2016 MadMardigan2 rated it really liked it
When I set down on my comfy couch for a Fowles book, I have learned to expect the unexpected. There was no disappointment here either. This book is just plain fun. It must be taken as a comedy, me thinks. My laughter, deep and whole, the joke- the eternal gulf that separates man and woman. To appreciate this short jaunt, hold no expectation of a deep literary lesson that Fowles hands our regularly, say The Magus or A Maggot. It's a loose and easy read and will put you in a good mood if you let i ...more
Maria Halip
May 12, 2016 Maria Halip rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2015 Andra rated it liked it
It might have come in handy to know what 'mantissa' meant before I started the novel. By the end of the first chapter, I was profoundly shocked by how vulgar and cheap the style and the literary elements seemed, and how it had begun to employ incredibly tedious dialogue, so unlike other novels of his.

At some point I felt so disappointed by Fowles that I wanted to give up on the reading. Fortunately, it entered my head that I should at least understand what the hell he had been trying to accompli
Katherine Holmes
Jun 08, 2013 Katherine Holmes rated it liked it
This book disappointed me although I didn't read much of it. I've read many of Fowles's other works and although I appreciated his writing and the interior of the protagonist concerning his amnesia, the female doctor and nurse scene where they were molesting him seemed sensational. I didn't want to go on reading. If such a treatment or such dialogue were real somewhere, then it seemed to me it would be under a money-protected and corrupt company or a fascist government. I'd prefer to watch the m ...more
Sep 19, 2012 Riff rated it it was amazing
This is the furiously powerful mind of Fowles scrutinising the form and subject and process of his novels, his instincts as an artist, and himself within the strange 'walls' of fiction. It is critical, unflattering, amusing, fascinating and demanding. I found it a joyful, easy read, but unless one is a serious writer or student of literature the qualities of this book may be difficult to fathom. It is enormously focused, and seems a microscopic study of the cerebral and creative powers which pre ...more
Oct 22, 2012 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: england, john-fowles, 2012
Я ничего не поняла, из того, что прочитала в этом коротком романе :) Точнее нет, я поняла, что это уже не мой уровень. Захотелось в отпуске прочитать еще что-нибудь "в духе" от Фаулза, но на толстого "Червя" набрасываться не хотелось. "Мантисса" же вполне подходила по размеру на книжечку, что отвлечься от темы расизма Харпер Ли. О это мрак, честное слово. Если остальные книги Фаулза я еще как-то могла осилить, то в этой он достиг апофеоза своей заумности. И я говорю это не в плане, что столь мно ...more
Sep 20, 2014 Ivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious. How to describe it though? as Samuel Beckett meets Aristophanes? as a pornographic fantasy that goes awry? as a writer acting out the creative process in a farcical take on Greek mythology (including a romp through the absurdities of post-modernist literary criticism - metaphorically, anyway)? above all, though, as a gloriously entertaining, funny, surreal and sexy lovers' quarrel!
Jan 29, 2016 Sausagecreature rated it it was amazing
A remarkable Ping-Pong male-female clash that plays out the way men and women sometimes confront and retaliate, although played out in an entirely theoretical setting. Thought provoking, intelligent, insightful in that usual John Fowles way. If you like JF and haven't read this, it is certainly worth picking up a copy.
Selin Secen
Jan 04, 2016 Selin Secen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yunan mitolojisinin Erato’su, sıradan yazarımız Miles Green’in ilham perisine dönüşme bahtsızlığına uğramıştır. Bütün kitap boyunca sıklıkla rol değiştirmelerini; bir yazarın zihninin rutubetli, vıcık vıcık köşelerine sinip planlar yaptığını, ilham perisinin aslında nelerden sorumlu olduğunu/olmadığını, Homeros’u bile etkilediğini okuruz. Erato sıklıkla kendisine biçilen rolü oynar; ilgiye muhtaç, kıskanç, hırslı dişiyi. Miles Green her istediğinde ondan uzaklaşır, onu her ittiğinde ise küçük ad ...more
Eric Randolph
Sep 06, 2016 Eric Randolph rated it did not like it
There are no doubt many fulfilling ways to read this short experimental novel about the nature of literature, muses and the battle of the sexes, but I just read it as a long and incredibly tedious argument between two over-educated twits, designed to titillate people who enjoy in-jokes about Greek classics.
Graham Binner
This is the third novel by John Fowles that I have read (after Magus and French Lieutenant's Woman). As expected, this is no ordinary novel - Fowles simply does not do "ordinary". The previous two novels were for me some of the most compelling works of fiction that I have ever read. This novel did not have the seem impact on me, although it still has its attractions. The story is very confusing and for much of the novel I was unclear what the writer was trying to say. Maybe that is the point or ...more
Jack Skillingstead
Jul 21, 2014 Jack Skillingstead rated it liked it
A sometimes great writer goes all self-indulgent. Which doesn't really say it. Sentence for sentence, a fantastic performance. Still... Oh, Hell, if you're a Fowles fan (I am) this book shouldn't escape your attention.
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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...

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