Daniel Martin
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Daniel Martin

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,423 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Set internationally and spanning three decades, Daniel Martin is, among other things, an exploration of what it is to be English. Daniel is a screenwriter working in Hollywood, who finds himself dissatisfied with his career and with the person he has become. In a richly evoked narrative, Daniel travels home to reconcile with a dying friend, and also to visit his own forgot...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Vintage Classics (first published 1977)
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The Magus by John FowlesThe Collector by John FowlesThe French Lieutenant's Woman by John FowlesThe Ebony Tower by John FowlesA Maggot by John Fowles
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6th out of 12 books — 17 voters
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Max
John Fowles is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and now--having read Daniel Martin--I almost regret not saving it for my last read of his. It was written nearer the middle of his career, but still manages to provide the most wonderful feeling of autobiographical summation, like an epic epilogue reflection on life lived. Being that the life in question is that of a narcissistic playwright turned jaded Hollywood screenwriter too much obsessed with the nostalgia of his youth and the yearnin...more
Craig
I had a graduate professor who challenged our group to find a contemporary literary novel with a truly believable 'happy ending.' Fowles' Daniel Martin does just that, but it takes over 600 pages to develop it -- and 'happy ending' doesn't mean a necessarily 'happy journey.' Fowles set out to show that sometimes in life, things do turn out well -- but it takes a lot of hard work, will, and luck. His experiements with changing tenses and point of view make for an interesting read. Adult reading,...more
Virginia
i don't know why i keep reading books about self-obsessed middle-aged men. it's not that i have nothing in common with these characters (lord knows i have my share of self-obsession, why else would i be typing out a review that i'm pretty sure no one will ever read). it's that they seem to take their self-obsession as a badge of honor--it makes them interesting or worth-while. i'm actually conflating daniel martin and john fowles, but the novel invites that sort of confusion, so i don't care. al...more
William
Feb 19, 2008 William rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any john fowles fans
This 700-page tome is a most unlikely suspense novel. Its two main characters, both overcerebral Oxbridge graduates in their mid-40s, are thoroughly disillusioned with society on both sides of the Atlantic. Jane, whose husband Anthony has just died of cancer, has previously been a Catholic but has lapsed and is now a Marxist, though more theoretical than active. Dan, who early on lapsed from writing plays to Hollywood scriptwriting, engages in seemingly continuous deep, complex introspection, su...more
Andrew
Jun 09, 2014 Andrew added it
Shelves: british-fiction
It took me a while to get into this one-- granted, my standards were high, with Fowles being an all-time favorite, and the difficulty of a book with unannounced polyphonic voices. But once I actually got the hang of Daniel Martin, I found it impossible to put down. Great stuff in here, aesthetics and globetrotting and ideology mixed with stories about really shit teenage romances and your lousy job, with just the right balance of self-deprecation and dignity, snark and heart. Still probably not...more
Stven
Jan 05, 2009 Stven rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious readers
This is in my opinion the best of John Fowles' novels (and Fowles must have thought so, too, since after Daniel Martin he never bothered to summon the strength to produce another major novel). It is truly a great novel. Fowles' prose, in the first place, is beautiful when he wants it to be, and he is determined to draw the reader in from the opening scene... not only with sheer shimmering beauty but with a calculated grandeur, setting the pace for this vast book which tells the whole private epi...more
Chrissie
First: it really upsets me that when you search "Fowles" on goodreads, you get every Artemis Fowl book before a single one by John Fowles. On John's behalf, I take this personally.

Second: I love John Fowles. He has an ability to make me feel that almost no other writer does. Like The Magus, some parts of this book were hard to read because the situations in it are so painful and real. People and their relationships are often crazy, confused, and troubled, and Fowles captures that better than any...more
dead letter office
After reading A Maggot and The Collector, I was operating under the conviction that John Fowles was incapable of a book unanchored in extreme oddity. Daniel Martin is fine, but its absolute disinterest in defying expectations was totally unexpected. This book is boring in a way I would have thought John Fowles couldn't pull off. He's woven some good short stuff into the very long story of a character who seems to exist only to expound a fundamentally boring personal philosphy. The bottom line is...more
John Smith
I found this to be the most satisfying work of Fowles's that I've read (can't include The Collector yet). It has the ambiguous and shifting point-of-view, self-reference, and metafictional structure you'd expect. Some reviewers have called it "self-absorbed" and "navel-gazing;" I found it the most outward-looking of anything I've read of Fowles's, although there is much "self-disillusionment." But navel-gazing implies narcissism and even solipsism, which Fowles rejects ("A perfect world would ha...more
Sherelyn Ernst
I FINALLY finished this, but I'm not proud of it. I finished it because I didn't want to hurt the feelings of someone who thinks this is right up with Shakespeare and Tolstoi and whose opinion I respect. However, for me, the bottom line was chagrin that I plowed through 600 pages of middle-aged male British navel gazing. I understand that I am probably wrong in my assessment; some very famous literary people think very highly of it. I thought of giving it more stars to show that it is very erudi...more
Charles Bechtel
Can't say what it is about this book, but I have read it more times than any other book except the Hobbit (13). I pick it up every 2-3 years and devour it. (I'm due!) The excellent transfer by the author of me to his locations, the well-formed characterizations, the variety of scene and time, all of these thrill me as I read. Just love it. My favorite Fowles, who is a favorite author, and probably my most favorite book. And I don't know why, precisely.
Under Milkwood
Having revisited this difficult book after thirty years I ask myself the question _ when did John Fowles become Marcel Proust. Some of his paragraphs went on till the next day and some of his cerebral self-indulgent rants drove me to distraction. But ultimately, his examination of the human psyche through male/ female relationships was nothing short of brilliant. Despite the difficulties, I still love this book.
Erich
Apr 13, 2010 Erich added it
I read this 3 decades ago during a week-long storm lashed to a cliff top off northern Vancouver Island....the dialogue is so rich, the characters so real. There are so many great passages. Conveying the sense of place is one of Fowles' gifts. He was a naturalist in the true sense, a lover of nature. Skip the first chapter, however.
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
John Fowles has previously rocked my brain into twisted submission with such delights as The Magus and Mantissa. The things that man can do with a Greek island and sunlight are not to be trifled with.

A dozen or so pages in, and I am not yet hooked. Curious, perhaps, piqued by an accent I cannot place and haunted with two images: that of a thick slice of ham resting on buttered bread, and the other a screaming rabbit with its legs shorn off by a thresher.

617 pages to go.

_________________________...more
Steven
I remember reading at least the first several hundred pages of this novel in my early twenties and being impressed by the writing and emotional depth (before reading any other Fowles novels), although I apparently wasn't impressed enough to finish it, as I have no recollection of doing so. It's probably just as well, as upon re-reading (and this time finishing) it in my current middle age, I find my admiration for the novel enhanced even further. Quite simply, it's not a novel for a typical twen...more
Jim
An amazing, intense, dense, almost unreadable book. It took me three months to read it. It was by turns - self-indulgent, masterful and romantic. It has the otherplacedness that Fowles can deliver – better done in the Magus. The novel requires intense attention as Daniel sifts through his romantic life - Nell, Jamie and finally Jane - all beautiful, desirable and complicated. I disliked and loved the book at the same time - a remarkable feat.
Balkrishna Rao
Sep 15, 2008 Balkrishna Rao rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Balkrishna by: Time magazine
One of the best books of the twentieth century.I have read it umpteen times and neverfail to gain new insights into it.
Lainy
Apr 28, 2011 Lainy added it
This book was way too long. It was interesting, but I didn't have the patience to finish it.
Nina1982
I liked this book because I missed Fowles' winding, scrupulous style of storytelling, when an intellectual detour and various philosophic allusions make you think about more fundamental elements of human lives. Nonetheless I think that the story might have benefited from being a little more compact.
As this book follows themes of Fowles' other stories in its preoccupation with past decisions, mistakes or plain misunderstandings it reeks of nostalgia. And this nostalgia is not only coming from th...more
Mary Miller
It has been several decades since I read "Daniel Martin". It was a gift from someone who knew that I loved "The French Lieutenant's Woman". If you read this thinking it will be like FLW, or any other work by Fowles, you will be disappointed. But if you allow yourself to immerse yourself in the life journey of Daniel, you will be richly rewarded. I find myself thinking about it often. It's probably time for me to read it again.
Justin Mitchell
It is unfortunate to see a writer I have so much respect for and consider one of my personal favorites to regress into bourgeois navel gazing, but John "The Magus and The Collector" Fowles has done just that with Daniel Martin. The writing is very good. The characters and scenes are vibrantly realized. It's just that the central story is quite simply dull, self-indulgent, and uncompelling...and this is coming from one of the most compelling writers I have ever read, in a novel that John Gardner...more
Ronald Wise
A decades-long story of four good friends who met at Oxford University in the years following World War II. Two marriages resulted, but did they pair off in the correct combinations? The story is told through the eyes of Daniel Martin, one of the four who become a playwright successful enough to be recruited as a scriptwriter in Hollywood. The book is full of dense, philosophical paragraphs and dialogues full of cryptic references, some of which I had to reread once or twice to capture their sig...more
Andrew
I need to reread this now that I'm adult. I feel like the subtleties of the relationships were lost on a carefree 23 year old living abroad. As always, Fowles descriptions of locales and facial expressions make you feel like you're in front of these people and in these places with them. What I do remember most about these characters is that they were so real - I could relate to them because I knew them in my own life. That's what I think makes Fowles' writing so powerful - his characters are liv...more
Ovidiu
One of my most re-read books from one of my dearest writers.
Takenari
I've had more visceral, emotional reaction after finishing The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman but this is the book I keep coming back to reread. Something about the relationships, the scenery, the structure by disjointed chapters, and the unpredictable plotting feel so attractive and comforting. I used to think he writes great dialogue. Now I think it's pretentious and bad. I still get a kick out of reading them. Guilty pleasure I suppose.
Amy C.
Dec 24, 2007 Amy C. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: slouching writers
It's got one of the densest and most beautiful openings I've ever read, so beautiful that I thought what came after was a joke. It isn't; it's just the rest of the book. Which isn't bad. I thought it went on about 200 pages too long, and the neverending adolescence of the characters wore on me, but I read till I was queasy anyway. I felt miserable and adolescent for weeks afterwards. I'd say the opening's worth it.
Lynne
I have always liked John Fowles' writing and I loved this book. It made me think so much about my own story, choices and responses. I love the intricate planning, the changes of time and tense, the gradual unfolding of a story. It also gives such a strong sense of England in the decades he is writing about, and a very vivid picture of Egypt too. I think I might re-read some of his other books now.
Dale Elizabeth Merriman
....the difficulties and sacrifices in adapting the written word to motion picture. The tentative nature of the artist regarding a love interest and unfairly idealizing as a result of his artistic nature so that his perceptions take on an elevated and far too spiritual vision when it is all so basic, primal and erotic like most of life. Honest introspection vs. suppressed desires.
Terry
This large novel describes a man's struggle with himself to accept happiness. He has what looks externally like everything anybody could want. He lacks companionship but ultimately finds it with his ex-wife's sister. He also goes into detail about differences between being English and American. Verbose, but well written.
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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 Magus The French Lieutenant's Woman The Collector The Ebony Tower A Maggot

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“Я мог бы влюбиться в неё по уши и стал бы невыносимо требовательным, предъявляя на неё собственные права; но я слишком часто грешил этим прежде, чтобы не знать, что стремление лишить партнёра независимости прямым путём ведёт к беде. Желание обладать тесно связано с желанием изменить, переделать; а она очень нравилась мне такой, какой была. Так же как фраза «Я верю в Бога» часто означает просто «Я верю, что нет необходимости думать», слова «Я тебя люблю» слишком часто оказываются иносказанием «Я хочу обладать тобою».” 1 likes
“[об американцах]
— Я понимаю, они — туристы, не отличающиеся очень уж развитым воображением. Вспоминаю, как училась там в школе. Ребята там казались мне гораздо более открытыми, по крайней мере в том, что касалось личных пристрастий. Всегда рассказывали, что чувствуют.
— Да дело вовсе не в том, что они об этом не рассказывают.
— А в том, что недостаточно чувствуют?
— Да и не в этом тоже. Недостаточно знают. Не позволяют себе много знать. Как с этим Грамши, о котором ты говорила. — Он помолчал и добавил: — Всё всегда делают по правилам.
Джейн помолчала немного.
— Питер писал о чём-то вроде этого в одном из писем. Как вначале тебе нравится их прямота… а потом начинаешь тосковать по извивам.
— Я испытал то же самое. Прозрачность — прекрасная вещь. Пока не начинаешь понимать, что она основана не столько на внутренней честности, сколько на отсутствии воображения. И эта их так называемая откровенность по поводу секса. Они просто не понимают, что утратили.”
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