MacK's Reviews > The Collector

The Collector by John Fowles
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Sep 23, 07

bookshelves: favorites, brit-lit
Read in September, 2007

Other things were supposed to be read first. But I'm finding I'm powerless in the grip of John Fowles.

I don't like scary stories, yet I keep reading.

I don't much like novels wherein almost all the characters are reprehensible, yet I keep reading.

I don't much like admiting that my boss is right about most things, yet I agree with him more and more each book.

What's most remarkable about The Collector is that for half the book I was totally unimpressed. The plot was engaging but the narrative style was so unlike The Magus so timid, so deferential I couldn't get worked up about it.

Then he turns the whole thing on its head, once the novel becomes a diary of the captive, Miranda, it takes on Fowles' more familiar philosophical, introspective overtones, it unites the reader with the victim after so long a familiarity with the captor, Clegg. And knowing the final result isn't a hindrance but an aid, urging the reader to go on depsite the situational irony, to see exactly how she will devolve in time too.

And again, Fowles manages to give the reader a vicious case of whiplash turning the one freeing element of Miranda's life into the justification for more imprisonment.

I've often thought about the development of monsters or beasts in literature, and in Clegg, everything becomes far more realistic. Dorian Gray may still be the paragon of sinister behavior, but Clegg's innocently diabolical tendancies are mind blowing.

A novel as much about art, humanity, and goodness as it is about sex and love and hate it's riveting and sickening at the same time.

I don't know how he does it, but on I go in the exploration of his madness.
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