The Aristos
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The Aristos

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  402 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Two years after The Collector had brought him international recognition and a year before he published The Magus, the author set out his ideas on life in The Aristos. The chief inspiration behind them was the fifth century BC philosopher Heraclitus. In the world he posited of constant and chaotic flux the supreme good was the Aristos.
Mass Market Paperback, Revised, 224 pages
Published May 1st 1970 by Signet (first published January 1st 1964)
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Beverly J.
I had such high hopes for this. I was ready to be dazzled by a manifesto of an author I have always held in high regard. It was as dry and interesting as white bread. Such a disappointment.
John E. Branch Jr.
The Aristos was not written to persuade but rather to declare, boldly (as well as baldly) and unconditionally, and to provoke.

• Its title probably doesn't mean what you think it means. It comes from ancient Greek, is pronounced with an emphasis on the first syllable, and means roughly "the best for a given situation." I know this because John Fowles told me so in his preface.

• It was written under the influence of a "love-affaire with Gallic clarity and concision" (yes, Fowles used here, as he...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 2011.

The title may suggest "À la lanterne les aristos!", the cry of the French revolutionary mob in The Scarlet Pimpernel. But in fact Fowles is using the Greek word aristos, meaning "the best" without the reference to hereditary privilege it now has in its best known English descendant, aristocracy, or being restricted in application to people, as the same word has it. This is a book which describes Fowles' personal philosophy, which is all about the...more
Lee Holz
The Aristos is a nonfiction exposition and statement of position on reality, the problems and challenges of humanity and what it means to be human by John Fowles, one of the greatest novelists of the second half of the twentieth century. One may agree with or differ from these pronouncements, for that is what they are, but one must acknowledge the author’s precision and clarity of presentation, cutting insights and serious philosophical approach. It is very much worth the effort of reading.
An interesting philosophical autobiography of John Fowles--his attempt to illustrate the philosophy behind his novels. Fowles writes as an existentialist, naturalist, and poet, and his prose is the child of Thomas Hardy. I don't normally like books of philosophy -- they so often wallow in abstractions, but having read all of Fowles' fiction, I found I could see the concrete illustrations from his novels to demonstrate the generalized ideas discussed in this book.
Toby Elliott
a strange, ultimately inspiring work of philosophy from one of the best writers of human character (if you don't believe me, read The Magus or The Collector. then take a look at this.) it's reminiscient of Wittgenstein's Tractatus in terms of format. you might not always agree with what he says, but it'll hot-poker your mind for hours after you put it down.
Might not be everyone's cup of tea -- in fact, is most certainly not -- but I found this book a lovely opportunity to examine the rough edges where my puzzle pieces of philosophies were in contradiction with Fowles'. Always lucid, often disagreeable; both pleasing and stimulating. One to browse.
Joseph Sverker
Fowles has collected some interesting thoughts in the style of Heraclitus in this book. One can sometimes feel that he is a child of his time and that the thoughts have not aged very well. However, there are many times that he shows a great ability to analyse culture.
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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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“Our stereotyping societies force us to feel more alone. They stamp masks on us and isolate out real selves. We all live in two worlds: the old comfortable man-centred world of absolutes and the harsh real world of relatives. The latter, the relativity reality, terrifies us; and isolates and dwarfs us all.” 6 likes
“Time in itself, absolutely, does not exist; it is always relative to some observer or some object. Without a clock I say 'I do not know the time' . Without matter time itself is unknowable. Time is a function of matter; and matter therefore is the clock that makes infinity real.” 6 likes
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