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The Magus

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This daring literary thriller, rich with eroticism and suspense, is one of John Fowles's best-loved and bestselling novels and has contributed significantly to his international reputation as a writer of the first degree. At the center of The Magus is Nicholas Urfe, a young Englishman who accepts a teaching position on a remote Greek island, where he befriends a local millionaire. The friendship soon evolves into a deadly game, in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas finds that he must fight not only for his sanity but for his very survival.

656 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1965

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About the author

John Fowles

92 books2,414 followers
John Robert Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town in Essex. He recalled the English suburban culture of the 1930s as oppressively conformist and his family life as intensely conventional. Of his childhood, Fowles said "I have tried to escape ever since."

Fowles attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys for university, from ages 13 to 18. After briefly attending the University of Edinburgh, Fowles began compulsory military service in 1945 with training at Dartmoor, where he spent the next two years. World War II ended shortly after his training began so Fowles never came near combat, and by 1947 he had decided that the military life was not for him.

Fowles then spent four years at Oxford, where he discovered the writings of the French existentialists. In particular he admired Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, whose writings corresponded with his own ideas about conformity and the will of the individual. He received a degree in French in 1950 and began to consider a career as a writer.

Several teaching jobs followed: a year lecturing in English literature at the University of Poitiers, France; two years teaching English at Anargyrios College on the Greek island of Spetsai; and finally, between 1954 and 1963, teaching English at St. Godric's College in London, where he ultimately served as the department head.

The time spent in Greece was of great importance to Fowles. During his tenure on the island he began to write poetry and to overcome a long-time repression about writing. Between 1952 and 1960 he wrote several novels but offered none to a publisher, considering them all incomplete in some way and too lengthy.

In late 1960 Fowles completed the first draft of The Collector in just four weeks. He continued to revise it until the summer of 1962, when he submitted it to a publisher; it appeared in the spring of 1963 and was an immediate best-seller. The critical acclaim and commercial success of the book allowed Fowles to devote all of his time to writing.

The Aristos, a collection of philosophical thoughts and musings on art, human nature and other subjects, appeared the following year. Then in 1965, The Magus - drafts of which Fowles had been working on for over a decade - was published.

The most commercially successful of Fowles' novels, The French Lieutenant's Woman, appeared in 1969. It resembles a Victorian novel in structure and detail, while pushing the traditional boundaries of narrative in a very modern manner.

In the 1970s Fowles worked on a variety of literary projects--including a series of essays on nature--and in 1973 he published a collection of poetry, Poems.

Daniel Martin, a long and somewhat autobiographical novel spanning over 40 years in the life of a screenwriter, appeared in 1977, along with a revised version of The Magus. These were followed by Mantissa (1982), a fable about a novelist's struggle with his muse; and A Maggot (1985), an 18th century mystery which combines science fiction and history.

In addition to The Aristos, Fowles wrote a variety of non-fiction pieces including many essays, reviews, and forewords/afterwords to other writers' novels. He also wrote the text for several photographic compilations.

From 1968, Fowles lived in the small harbour town of Lyme Regis, Dorset. His interest in the town's local history resulted in his appointment as curator of the Lyme Regis Museum in 1979, a position he filled for a decade.

Wormholes, a book of essays, was published in May 1998. The first comprehensive biography on Fowles, John Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds, was published in 2004, and the first volume of his journals appeared the same year (followed recently by volume two).

John Fowles passed away on November 5, 2005 after a long illness.

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5 stars
23,557 (42%)
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9,377 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,572 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,345 reviews11.7k followers
June 29, 2022

"The Magus" is a stunner, magnificent in ambition, supple and gorgeous in execution. It fits no neat category; it is at once a pyrotechnical extravaganza, a wild, hilarious charade, a dynamo of suspense and horror, a profoundly serious probing into the nature of moral consciousness, a dizzying, electrifying chase through the labyrinth of the soul, an allegorical romance, a sophisticated account of modern love, a ghost story that will send shivers racing down the spine. Lush, compulsive, richly inventive, eerie, provocative, impossibly theatrical--it is, in spite of itself, convincing." Thus wrote Eliot Fremont-Smith in his New York Times book review when this magnificent novel was first published back in 1966.

For me, this novel counts as one powerful literary experience - not only did I read the book but I also listened to the outstanding audio version read by Nicholas Boulton. "Stupidity is lethal." One of the many musing from first person narrator Nicholas Urfe, a dashingly handsome twenty-five year old Oxford educated Englishman on the Greek island of Phraxos during a conversation with Conchis, a much older wealthy recluse, a man imaginative enough to remind him of Pablo Picasso and mysterious enough to remind me of Aleister Crowley.

This 660 pager begins with Nicholas Urfe recounting his background as an only child of middle class parents, stickler brigadier father, an officious military man down to his toes, a man forever trotting out words like discipline and tradition and responsibility to undergird his position on any topic, obedient housebound mother, public school education (what in the US is called private school), short stint in the army during peacetime and then reading English at Oxford. When one day at Oxford he receives word that both his mother and father died in an airplane crash, Nicholas feels a great relief since he no longer is obliged to carry around a huge sack of family baggage. Ah, family!

However, after Oxford, there’s one person who exerts a profound influence on Nicholas prior to his traveling to Phraxos to teach boys at the English-run Lord Byron School - Alison, a gorgeous, graceful Australian gal who moves in with Nicholas in his quaint apartment facing Russell Square. And that’s influence as in emotional intensity, as in red hot passionate lovemaking, bitter heated arguments and nearly everything in between, as if their relationship is a primer for the Dionysian frenzy and chaos Nicholas will eventually encounter in Greece.

When leaving England, Nicholas calls to mind how he needs more mystery in his life. Well, he certain gets his wish when he meets old Maurice Conchis and is initiated in unexpected ways into the atrocities of World War I and then the Nazis, the vitality of Greek theater and mask acting, isolation and religious fanaticism, hypnotism and mysticism, Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian archetypes, ancient pagan religions inexplicably mingling with science and humanism.

Pulled into the vortex of the brutality of recent European history and pushed out to hidden spiritual realms with a dose of romantic love thrown in along the way, Nicholas is forced to confront his basic philosophic assumptions: How free are we? How much influence does our culture and historic epoch have on our values? Is there a universal foundation of morality beyond social convention? What is the connection between truth and beauty? Does love conquer all or is this merely a hackneyed cliché?

Toward the end of the novel, we as readers join Nicholas in asking: Ultimately, what was the real intent and purpose of Maurice Conchis and his so called godgame? Was all of what he as a young Englishman lived through at bottom a madman’s desire to manipulate and control, so much so it would it be more accurate to label Conchis’ inventive masque a congame rather than a godgame?

Turning the novel’s pages, we are right there with Nicholas as the suspense mounts – for every mystery that appears to be solved, two corollary mysteries pop up to take its place. Are we delving deeper into the mysteries of the universe or the mysteries of a detective novel, or both? No wonder Eliot Fremont-Smith called “The Magus” a stunner. I couldn’t imagine a more apt one-word description. I can also appreciate John Gardner’s judgement when he wrote, "Fowles is the only writer in English who has the power, range, knowledge, and wisdom of a Tolstoy or James."

Profile Image for MacK.
595 reviews193 followers
September 3, 2007
My students like to use the made up word, "unputdownable." I always laugh at this. I can always put down a book, I can even put down this one. The problem is, I can't seem to stop picking it up again.

We are thrown, whether we like it or not into the addled frantic mind of Nicholas Urfe, a man in the middle of a suspenseful psychological experiment. The only problem is, without telling us, Fowles turns it into a suspenseful philosophical experiment as well. We are left never fully knowing what is to come next, what is real and what is unreal. And we become so attached, so dependent upon Urfe, his reactions to the moments, his arrogant assumptions about what is true and what is false, that we become as mentally addled as he is and as incapable of leaving the invented world of the magus behind as he is.

My mother managed to put it down and leave it down. I drove on, like Urfe, deeper and deeper into the tormented abyss that is compulsion and an inability to accept freedom. All the while questioning everything I knew about love, about obligations, about intelligence, trust, truth, fiction, theater, and of course freedom.

I don't know if I fully understand the book, just as Urfe doesn't fully understand the experiment. But I knew I wouldn't stop, that I was free to stop, but that, rather than feeling obliged to finish or understand, I exercised my freedom to explore and discover.

Rather than repeating the "unputdownable" line, I think this book can best be described as a Niel LaBute play put into prose (or rather, LaBute is Fowles put into the theater). You are never sure of your footing, never confident in your stance, and sure, that no matter how you love the journey you will receive a wicked kidney punch in due course. And that love, and freedom, means that you are willing to accept the kidney punch, if that's what it takes to understand.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,398 reviews3,274 followers
July 22, 2022
We gravitate to mysteries… The great unknown calls us…
The craving to risk death is our last great perversion. We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?

Straight from the biblical times temptation is the main moving force that pushes humanity to seek knowledge. And who cares if our knowledge is a set of misconceptions?
Living is an eternal wanting more, in the coarsest grocer and in the sublimest mystic.

We live and we learn but there always is something that is left outside our cognizance so there always is a desire to come to the edge of the world and to look down into the abyss.
May 20, 2017
Ανήκει στην κατηγορία των βιβλίων που δεν θα ξεχάσεις ποτέ όταν το διαβάσεις. Έχει μια μυστηριακή πολύπλοκη και πολυεπίπεδη γοητεία που διεισδύει στο μυαλό και σε παρασύρει σε μια δοκιμασία αυτογνωσίας.

Με ολοφάνερη την αγάπη του συγγραφέα για την Ελλάδα της απόλυτης γεωφυσικής και πολιτιστικής θεϊκής κληρονομιάς της, μας μεταφέρει σε ένα ελληνικό νησί όπου συντελείται το μυστήριο-φαντασία-πραγματικότητα,απόκρυφη ανθρώπινη φυση-ελευθερία και αυτοπραγμάτωση- διαλογισμός.

Ο φλεγματικός Άγγλος καθηγητής φτάνει στην Ελλάδα στο μυθικό νησί μας για να διδάξει στο σχολείο "Λόρδος Βύρωνας". Η προσωπικότητα του έρχεται σε αντίθεση με την μεταπολεμική Ελλάδα αλλά η άγρια ομορφιά του νησιού εξημερώνει τα πάθη του.

Γνωρίζει σχεδον τυχαία το Μάγο,έναν κοσμοπολίτη,πλούσιο, παράξενο και ιδιόρρυθμο επιχειρηματία, που έχει μια υπέροχη βίλα στο πιο απομονωμένο σημείο του νησιού. Ο Μάγος προσκαλεί τον καθηγητή να περάσουν μαζί το Σαββατοκύριακο και εκεί αρχίζει η παράνοια.

Ο οικοδεσπότης στήνει στον καθηγητή ένα "θεοπαιγνιο". Ένα θέατρο του παραλόγου με σκηνικό τη βίλα πάνω στη θάλασσα και αρχίζουν να συνυφαίνονται το ψέμα και η αμφισβήτηση με την πραγματικότητα και τον έρωτα.

Στόχος του Μάγου σκηνοθετη μας ειναι η συνειδητοποίηση των εσωτερικών δυνάμεων του εκλεκτού καλεσμένου του και φυσικά η βαθιά συνειδητοποίηση της ελευθερίας σε ολες τις εκφάνσεις της.
Το κυρίαρχο στοιχείο σε αυτή την υπέροχη γραφή ειναι η ταύτιση του αναγνώστη με τον πρωταγωνιστή του παιχνιδιού που έχει στηθεί και την συναίσθηση όλων των ψυχολογικών του μεταβολών. Απο την απελπισία και την απογοήτευση στην κρυφή μυστηριακή χαρά του πάθους και της ελπίδας.

Ειναι ένα όμορφο και ανατρεπτικό βιβλίο. Ξεχωριστό και πολυδιάστατο. Με πολλα στοιχεία ψυχολογίας και ανθρώπινης διάστασης στη σχέση θύτη και θύματος που δεν ξεκαθαρίζεται ποτέ αυτή η ειδοποιός διαφορά. Ποιος ειναι το θύμα και ποιος ο θύτης. Ξεκινά με ένα υπέροχο τροπο περιγραφής και εξελίσσεται σταδιακά και γρήγορα στην ανατροπή μέσα σε δευτερόλεπτα της αλήθειας σε ψέμμα και αντίστροφα.

Όσο ο καθηγητής-θύμα αδυνατεί να κατανοήσει τον ηθικά διφορούμενο Μάγο-θύτη και περιπλέκονται πρόσωπα-φαντάσματα, μυθικές-πραγματικές ιστορίες και δοκιμασίες πνεύματος και μυαλού ανάμεσα σε φαντασία και αληθινή ζωή, τοσο και ο αναγνώστης απολαμβάνει αργά και βασανιστικά αυτή την γοητευτική διαδρομή - με άπειρες στροφές- που οδηγεί στην αναγκαιότητα της απόλυτης ελευθερίας ή της λογικής μέσα απο την ελεύθερη σκέψη.

Η αλήθεια... κάπου στη μέση. Τα συμπεράσματα ειναι προσωπικά για τον κάθε αναγνώστη.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,219 followers
February 14, 2023
Voi încerca să spun foarte pe scurt ce cred despre acest roman.

1. Maurice Conchis, milionarul excentric și, probabil, paranoic din insula grecească Phraxos, a trăit cîndva o experiență limită. În timpul celui de-al doilea război mondial, un ofițer german l-a pus în fața unei dileme maligne. Era primar al insulei: „ofițerul l-a silit să aleagă [deși alegerea e imposibilă pentru orice om cu judecată, n.m.] între executarea de către germani a optzeci de ostatici și lichidarea cu propria mînă a trei luptători din rezistență. Conchis n-a putut ucide și ostaticii au murit”. Consecințele pot fi văzute mai jos...

2. Evenimentul i-a sugerat milionarului să inițieze un joc cvasi-dement: să-i pună și pe alții într-o situație la fel de aporetică [fără soluție]. Are mijloace nelimitate: transformă insula într-un teatru imens, plătește actori, inventează personaje. El va fi regizorul-dumnezeu și îi va supune pe ceilalți la o încercare „similară”. Victima lui este tînărul profesor de engleză Nicholas Urfe. Mă opresc aici. Nu voi spune dacă eroul reușește să treacă proba. În principiu, n-ar trebui să poată. Nici să poată să poată :)

3. În concluzie, romanul stufos și inegal al lui John Fowles pare, în esența lui, un „roman de ucenicie, de inițiere”. Nu știu dacă această interpretare e nouă, nu cred și nici nu contează...

4. Dacă Goodreads ar fi existat în 1997, i-aș fi dat cărții, fără să ezit o secundă, 5 steluțe. Entuziasmul meu a diminuat simțitor. Facultatea de a admira se tocește. La o recitire, îți dorești zadarnic să retrăiești plăcerea inițială. Nu mai citești cu sufletul, citești cu mintea. Plăcerea a dispărut. Firește, nu e vina lui Fowles: e vina cititorului. Și-a pierdut naivitatea, privește critic, analizează. Cînd ești tînăr, te iluzionezi ușor și chiar îți dorești asta. Mai tîrziu, devii sceptic și prudent. Te usuci. Și, fiindcă puterea de seducție a cărții a scăzut, începi să judeci și să discriminezi. Din păcate. Observi, astfel, abia acum, defectul principal al romanului: e construit pe o analogie greșită. În pofida părerii lui Shakespeare, viața nu e o scenă...

Un extras din prefața cărții ne-ar putea ajuta să-i înțelegem mai bine mesajul:
„Nu apăr hotărîrea pe care Conchis a luat-o în faţa plutonului de execuţie, apăr însă existența dilemei. Divinitatea şi libertatea sînt concepte perfect opuse. Oamenii cred în zeii lor inventaţi pentru a nu crede în conceptul opus. Acum sînt la o vîrstă care-mi permite să-i înţeleg”.

P. S. M-am grăbit. Probabil de asta nu mi-a ieșit o notă mai scurtă...
October 20, 2022
5 "cinematic, psychosexual thriller" stars !!

6th Favorite Read of 2018

This is a book that can be easily dismissed when we are guarded, cynical, fearful or imperious. I started this book at a remote location with very small font that hurt my trifocal vision....and yet....amidst mosquitoes, overheating and copious amounts of food I returned over and over until my vision gave out and I fouind a larger print Anita Brookner to round out my week. I returned to an e-copy on my return.

However this book was forever in my imagination and entered my dreams on those sultry nights while I heard the loons calling over the lake. I started by resisting this book and I was guarded, cynical, fearful and imperious towards it just as the protagonist was as he went through a most profound personal transformation from self-absorption to self-awareness.

A middle class Englishman (Nicolas Urfe) is without family or prospects. He is handsome and breaks women's hearts particularly Alison a sensual and earthy Aussie. He moves to an island in beautiful Greece to teach at an Academy and becomes embroiled in one of modern lit's most interesting psychodramas headed by a high priest of manipulation Conchis and his acolytes or actors or fellow therapists or clergy. In fact, we never really find out who they are or what they want with our Englishman. He is driven mad by sexual desire by two twin sisters while Alison haunts him from back home. He confuses selfishness with love, desire with necessity, sexuality for spirituality.

He is psychologically tortured, manipulated, hurt and reborn by a series of incidents that lure him deeper into Conchis' web. We never find out what is real, what is supernatural, what is hypnosis, what are lies ? As we read our own defenses come down and we are stricken to our core by some psychodynamic magic or perhaps the power of Ancient Greek Gods and Godesses.

The book is filled with religious, philosophical, erotic and artistic content and we begin to drown along with our hero into both death and rebirth. The prose is both profound and contrived, both elegant and farcical, both beautiful and obscene. Unless we make peace with dialectics we will never make it out of this labyrinth.

A remarkable feat of 1960s ornate psychosexual grandeur !!

Profile Image for Guille.
740 reviews1,444 followers
November 26, 2018
Una de las muchas preguntas que el libro contiene, expresa o tácitamente, es aquella que dice ¿Qué es lo que bebes, el agua o la ola? Pues bien, yo me bebí la ola como con meses de sed atrasada. Un texto brillantemente escrito, como me tiene acostumbrado el autor, capaz tanto de conducirte con ligereza y suavidad a hermosas e idílicas playas, como de voltearte hasta la desorientación o estrellarte contra las rocas de la sinrazón, y ello sin abandonar la elegancia, sin perder esa capacidad de perturbación que te sostiene fascinado a lomos de esta ola de casi setecientas páginas.

En el prólogo a la segunda edición inglesa revisada en 1977, Fowles habla de un libro que le influyó a la hora de escribir el suyo, El gran Meaulnes, de Alain Fournier (realmente cita dos más, Bevis, de Richard Jefferies, y Grandes Esperanzas, de Dickens) y del que quería copiar esa capacidad de proporcionar una experiencia que va más allá de lo literario. Doy fe de que Fowles lo consiguió conmigo.

En esta grandiosa y absurda caja china que es en parte esta novela, he experimentado vivamente la atracción y el rechazo del protagonista ante una experiencia tan desestabilizadora, ante un personaje tan tirano y seductor como es el mago y (en este caso y a mi criterio) el autor de la novela; he sentido como mía su confusión, su desamparo; he sufrido su rabia ante las humillaciones y la impotencia ante su insignificancia; he compartido sus anhelos y padecido sus decepciones; he comprendido sus errores, sus malos pasos, su vileza.

¿Y el agua? Pues del agua puedo decir de todo. Durante gran parte de la lectura he bebido a morro, con ansia, quizás por ello parte del agua discurría a veces por fuera de mi boca, mojándome sin aplacar mi sed, mientras otras veces se me atragantaba y hasta ha habido momentos en los que he llegado a escupirla con cierta repugnancia. Un agua muy revuelta en la que por encima de todos los conceptos reinaba ese tan existencial de la libertad y, junto a él, la responsabilidad y, en contra de él, el fatalismo. Pero había muchos más: la verdad y la ilusión, la ética y la estética, la naturaleza y la educación, los hechos y la ficción, el amor y el deseo, el misterio y la seguridad, el suicidio, la pérdida, la traición… Una amalgama de temas no siempre claros pero siempre expuestos con inteligencia y, lo que es aún mejor, de forma estimulante.

Como dejó dicho el autor:
«Si el Mago tiene algún verdadero significado, será un significado del mismo orden que el de los test psicológicos de Rorschach. Su significado es la reacción que provoque en el lector, cualquiera que sea, y por lo que a mí respecta no creo que exista ninguna reacción correcta
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews868 followers
February 6, 2012
Here on Goodreads, rather than judging a book by its cover, it is always handier to judge a book based on what your friends and people you are following had to say about it after it had passed under their beady eyes.

I have 91 friends here on Goodreads and follow 6 people and of the 12 friends and three people I'm following, only one (Kingfan30) wrote a review. Even the more loquacious members of the group have chosen to remain silent - Karen, Mike and PetraX - not a jot or a scribble (yet). I can see all the ratings but around the book itself there is a sphinx like silence. It is fair to say that the silence surrounding this book speaks volumes.

I on the other hand, am loud and shouty and even though I did not finish this book or understand it in the slightest well, I am going to have my say.

So here goes...
What the hell happened there then?
I have got no idea what happened.
Can anyone explain what happened?
Did John Fowles even know what was going on?
Is everyone else confused?

This book is on the 1001 Books to Read Before you Die list. I am proposing they move it to the 1001 Books to Confuse the Living Baby Cheesus out of you Before You Die and Even After You are Dead You Might Still be Wondering Exactly What The Hell That Was All About list.

Principally the story of commitmentophobic Oxford graduate, Nicholas Urfe, who runs away from his girlfriend and gets a summer job teaching on a picturesque Greek Island. With the unwitting sixth sense that only the public school educated seem to possess (see The Secret History by Donna Tart) he immediately finds the seedy underbelly within the seemingly sunny and simple island living. Embraced in the dark clutches of the mysterious Maurice Conchis, possible Nazi/wizard/pedlar of hallucinogenic drugs/madman, Nicholas participates in a parade of obscene vignettes, masques and midnight alfresco romping. What does it all mean? Damned if I know! What happened in the end? Dunno. I gave up because I am a quitter but I am sure if I had carried on reading I'd have been none-the-wiser anyway.
Profile Image for Jessica Baxter.
45 reviews25 followers
September 12, 2007
this book fucked me up. i suppose it could be defined as a "psychological thriller" but its very jungian, steeped in metaphor and symbolism and eroticisim and mythology and shakespeare. its also an intense love story of sorts, the main character is a completely fleshed out, real, flawed person who you relate to and fear for and empathize with. the premise is that this british guy gets a teaching job on a small island in greece soon after WWII ends and becomes intwined in the lives/mind games of this man and his crew...just when you (meaning the protagonist) think you know whats really going on with these people, it all changes and youre left more baffled and curious and invested than ever. in addition to being all of those things its a really fast read (despite its 700 pages) and a really interesting commentary on europe after the war (especially brits).
Profile Image for باقر هاشمی.
Author 1 book240 followers
April 14, 2019
یک هوس باز حرفه‌ای به ندرت، انسانی قابل ترحم است.|ساد


نمی‌دانم این رمان را از چه زاویه‌ای تعریف کنم؟ نمی دانم آن را در چه دسته‌ای قرار دهم؟ روانشاسی؟ تغزّلی؟ عرفانی؟ راز آلود؟ جنایی؟ اخلاقی؟ مجوس همه‌ی این‌ها را در خود دارد و پیچیده در لایه‌هایی مبهم و رازآلود است. اما چیزی که با یقین می‌توانم بگویم این است که مجوس یک رمان استعاری است. و احساسم نسبت به عکس بالا، احساسی است شبیه به احساسم نسبت به رمان مجوس.

مرکزِ پنهانِ این رمان به گمانم در همان اولین جمله ای که به نقل از ساد آورده است، خلاصه می شود.

فاولِز نویسنده‌ای بسیار تواناست. هم به جهان پیرامونش اشراف دارد و هم به لایه های پنهان روانش آگاه گشته است. او توانسته روانِ خودش را حتّا بهتر از یک روانکاو بشکافد و سرچشمه‌ی امیالش را بشناسد. و برای همین است که توانسته تحلیل هایی بسیار درخشان از روانِ هنرمند و از روانِ جمعیِ انسانِ قرن بیست‌ویک به ما عرضه کند. رمانش را با دقتی تامّ نوشته و در آن هیچ چیزی را بی‌هوده نیاورده است و روایتش عاری از هرگونه زیاده‌گویی است. داستانش بسیار پرکشش است و مانند بعضی از رمان های حجیمی که در میانه‌ی آن، کنجکاوی خواننده افت می کند و داستان ملال‌آور می شود نیست.

تحلیلِ و نقدِ این رمان، متنِ خودِ رمان است و باید خوانده شود تا خوبی یا بدی آن فهمیده شود. هر کس بنا به جهان‌بینی‌اش می‌تواند از آن برداشتی متفاوت داشته باشد. این رمان دارای تعلیق‌هایی چند لایه است و می تواند برای هر خواننده‌ای، یا بهتر بگویم، هر خواننده‌ی دیوانه‌ای جذاب باشد. مخاطبِ مجوس چه‌کسی است؟ کسی که اسیر بی‌بند و باری‌ای فطری می‌باشد و در زندگی‌اش بیشتر از آنکه پیرو اخلاق و عُرف باشد، پیرو هوس‌هایش بوده است. مطالعه‌ی این کتاب برای کسی که نمی‌تواند از لذتی که در پیروی از هوس‌ نهفته است چشم بپوشد، بسیار لذت‌بخش خواهد بود.

به‌روز شده در تاریخ: 98.01.25
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,699 followers
January 9, 2010
Oh boy. Here's the thing: If you read this novel as a citizen of 2010, a member of our hyper-speed, uber-connected modern society that navel-gazes in 140 word bytes with little interest in true introspection, The Magus will seem almost comical in its psycho-thrilling, Jungian dribbling plot and Baroque-meets-mod writing style.

If you, dear reader, consider that The Magus was partially written nearly 60 years ago (begun in the early 50s, published in '65, revised in '76), its risky political and sexual behavior and twisted plot now seems the apex of modernity of post-war culture. This is David Lynch decades before he wrapped Isabella Rossellini in blue velvet, "White Rabbit" when Grace Slick was in pigtails, free love to a generation stripping off their bobby socks, "Schindler's List" for young people who had vivid memories of World War II and their parents of the Great War.

As a read, I found it intoxicating. I was surprised at every turn, and, despite its substantial size, never bored or exhausted. Although I enjoyed it to bits, I couldn't recommend it to any of my GoodReads buddies- I honestly think you'd hate it! That's not a throwing down of the gauntlet, but a genuine Caveat emptor. If you didn't like The French Lieutenant's Women, steer well clear of The Magus.

Fowles, in his foreward to the 1976 revision, acknowledges the many negative critical reviews received upon its initial publication ("justified criticisms of excess, over-complexity and artificiality..."). But as he reflects on his motivation in writing, he realizes that The Magus must "remain a novel of adolescence, written by a retarded adolescent" and that freedom, one of the central themes of the novel, must be grasped by the writer to create whatever worlds he or she damn well pleases.

I celebrate the notion of the latter, as long as the reader is gifted a damn good story. For those of us who suffered through "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Lottery" in 7th grade English, I offer up the satisfaction of The Magus.

Profile Image for Simon.
Author 6 books136 followers
March 7, 2012

Well, everything one might say about this book could be taken as a spoiler, including this very remark.

The book is a pretty good read, or it would have been if it had weighed in at two hundred or so pages shorter. And, given that the book is entirely a gradual denouement, one has to admire Fowles's skill in controlling it over such a long span, like a musician making a hugely long crescendo.

But I guess in the end, I didn't much like the book. In the 'trial' scene, a report is read out about the narrator of which the narrator himself admits a large amount of validity. And I can't help feeling that it indicts (and is supposed to indict) the author himself. The book is narcissistic in the extreme. A narcissistic young man, much more immature than he thinks he is, becomes the object of a psychological experiment? or intervention? conducted by a group of enormously wealthy people who stage manage all sorts of weird situations on a beautiful Greek island. They include a pair of beautiful young female twins (yes, two!, count 'em) of which one (and it's clear it might have been both) does all sorts of nice things to his private parts. They are all so interested in him. Isn't that cool?

Apparently, he's only the latest in a succession of such experiments/interventions all conducted, you guessed it, on narcissistic young men who are much more immature than they think they are! And it seems they've all involved kinky situations in which the bounds of bourgeois morality are swept away in the name of some unnamed and unspecified higher truth. Exactly why these people are doing what they are doing, whether really out of benevolent concern for all these young men, or out of commitment to some liberated science, is never exactly made clear. (Clearly, any answer to this would be too 'little' or parochial to justify all the action that the group generates, so it really cannot be explained without deflating the entire book. But that's never a good thing in a book, when it has to keep silent on something so as not to appear silly.)

And the attitudes to gender throughout the book! OK, granted, it's partly about how the narrator comes to realize he's fucked up about this, but 600 pages of desperate desire for the female muse alternating with enraged desire to whip (literally) and crush (metaphorically) various of the women involved in the narrator's 'education', followed by 50 pages of "oh I must try and do better".... Well, I'm not convinced. The book seems an unpleasant young man's jerk off fantasy (which makes his control of the book's crescendo over such a long span all the more impressive, I suppose).

There's also a whole epistemological theme to the book. How, it asks, do we know what's real? How tell what's true? But I'm damned if I see what the book is supposed to say about that. No-one who stumbles into the perfectly executed plans of rich eccentrics with unlimited resources to control is going to be able to separate reality from illusion. I mean, come on. Descartes's evil genius has nothing on Maurice Conchis.

So, final verdict: the book is callow and jejune. And not in a nice way.
Profile Image for Beth.
100 reviews124 followers
January 15, 2008
I had no idea what this book was about. The prose style was nice, but the plot was completely unfathomable. I decided about a third of the way through the book that it was one of the worst things I had ever read. But, due to some strange self-flagellatory compulsion, I told myself there was no way I was going to let it beat me, so I slogged through, teeth clenched, until the end. I found out later that they actually made a movie out of it. About the film, Woody Allen is to have said, "If I could live my life over again, I would do everything the same except for seeing 'The Magus'". As for the book, I couldn't have said it better myself, Woody.
Profile Image for Deniz Balcı.
Author 2 books569 followers
February 10, 2017
Kitap sanki benim kitabımmış gibi sayfasına girip okuyucular ne demiş, beğenmiş mi beğenmemiş mi diye kontrol edeyim demiştim ki, yorum yapmamış olduğumu gördüm. Çok şaşırdım. Bu kadar çok beğendiğim, beni bu kadar derinden etkileyen bir kitaba nasıl yorum yapmam diye kendime kızdım. Herhalde okuduğum dönemde kitabın hemen ardından bir şey demek istemedim, çünkü ciddi etkilenmişliğimle sağlıklı yazamazdım. Fakat aradan onca zaman geçti, bende ki fikirler, duygular, izlenimler hala aynı.

Bazı arkadaşlardan mesajlar alıyorum, çok beğendiğim ve yorumladığım kitaplar hakkında... Genelde hep benzer cümleler çıkar ağzımdan: Kitabın sorumluluğunu almak istemem, belki de beğenmezsiniz... gibisinden.
İşte bu kitapta bunu söylemiyorum. Hatta nolur okuyun diyorum. Kesin okuyun, lütfen okuyun!

Merak duygusunun sonuna kadar taze tutulduğu, inanılmaz bir dünyanın yaratıldığı, muhteşem psikolojik gözlemlerin yapıldığı, hiç bitmesin isteyeceğiniz bir roman bu. Film gibi akıyor 'Büyücü' ama film gibi bir roman da değil, yanlış anlaşılmasın. Hafif gösterecek, küçültecek bir sıfat kullanmak istemiyorum. 'Büyücü'yü okurken eve erken dönmek isterdim, sırf kitaba devam etmek için. Herkes okumuş olsa da herkesle heyecanımı ve düşüncelerimi paylaşabilsem diye düşünürdüm. Bana bir şey anlatan insanların ancak yüzüne bakardım, aklım romanda karakterlerde olurdu çünkü. Okuma zevki dediğimiz şey, çok üst düzeyde romanda. Onun dışında biçim ve içerik şahane. Çeviri ve baskı mükemmel. Önümüzdeki senelerde bu kitap için Yunanistan adalarına bir tatil yapmak ve orada tekrar okumak istiyorum. (Kitabı okuyanlar neden bu istek içinde olduğumu anlarlar.)
Daha başka bir şey demek istemiyorum ancak övgü çıkıyor zira benden:)

Herkese tavsiye ederim!

Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,937 reviews427 followers
April 5, 2019
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

Nicholas Urfe, an Oxford graduate post-war, with no direction and a slight hint of nymphomania, travels to Greece to work as an English teacher on the remote island of Phraxos, mostly to get away from an Australian girl he shagged but doesn't love and wants to ditch.

Unsurprisingly, the remoteness is boring and he is drawn to browsing the island, where he finds an even more remote house in which lives Conchis, the titular character whom holds all the mystery that Nicholas desires.

There's not a lot else one can say without giving it away, but the mystery deepens and we fall in to a trap alongside Nicholas of quite mixed proportions. The beginning of The Magus is one of most fantastic and tantalising beginnings in literature (certainly that I've read) and, even with reading crime fiction on a regular basis, I've never been kept so in the dark and felt the need to know what happens next. There were so many surprises in the first half of the book that what happens next makes anger rise rapidly.

The descent of this book over a cliff is an understatement. I want to admit that, although one could never call this book even remotely nice to women (or homosexuals or black men), it is-not excusable-but explainable by the era it was written in. When women were shits because men said they were. I never really cared much about the treatment or behaviour of the women, no matter how much anyone says that feminism is a woman enjoying sex, so we'll leave that out of this.

What I did care about was the banality of the reveal, the incomprehensible shiteness of the plot outcome. The sheer let down that such a wonderful, mysterious opening began but soon left behind as if it were another book in another dimension on another plane, tucked neatly-and resolutely-under a rock. First person narrative is always tricky and I'd never consider myself a fan, but in this case the irregular, unreliable narrator of Nicholas was welcome and necessary. One cannot have omniscience with someone playing god.

One can say that, perhaps, at the time it was written it was a good book. With a good shock, a nice little fight against the prude nature of Victorian Classics like most Modern Classics seem to be. I enjoyed the contrast, but ultimately I think it took it's course too far and, as I said before, fell off the cliff without a rope.

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Profile Image for Mohammad Hrabal.
255 reviews175 followers
July 2, 2020
کتاب خیلی جذاب و پر کششی بود. اگر آن را از دوستی عزیز هدیه گرفته باشید (مانند من) خوشبختید. مترجم خیلی کوشیده بود تا از کلمات و اصطلاحاتی استفاده کند که سانسور صورت نگیرد ولی به هر حال بعضی بخش‌ها به ناچار سانسور شده بودند؛ البته در کل فکر می‌کنم کتاب سانسور زیادی نداشته است. نمی‌دانم چرا آقای خاکسار عنوان کتاب را مجوس انتخاب کرده است؟ آیا بهتر نبود ساحر یا جادوگر یا مترادف‌های این کلمه را برای عنوان بر می‌گزید؟
یک فیلم اقتباسی بسیار بد هم از این کتاب در سال 1968 ساخته شده است که اتفاقا خود جان فاولز هم فیلمنامه‌اش را نوشته است و یک نقش خیلی کوچولو هم در آن بازی کرده‌است. البته آنتونی کوئین و مایکل کین و خانم آنا کارینا هم در آن بازی کرده‌اند. اگر علاقه مند بود ببینید. (به هیچ عنوان قبل از خواندن کتاب فیلمش را نبینید).
The Magus (1968) 5.7
از ملال‌شان تزویر جاری بود و دورویی و خشم بی‌حاصل پیرانی که می‌دانستند به هیچ جا نرسیده‌اند و جوانانی که آینده‌ای جز هیچ جا نرسیدن، پیش روی خود نمی‌دیدند. ص 19 کتاب
می‌دونم وقتی آدم‌ها از هم فاصله می‌گیرند چه اتفاقی می‌افته. یک هفته رنج و عذاب، هفته‌ی بعد غم واندوه، بعد کم کم فراموش می‌کنی و آخر سر انگار از اول هیچ اتفاقی نیفتاده، انگار داستان زندگی دو آدم دیگه بوده و دیگه هیچ اهمیتی نداره. ص 58 کتاب
همیشه فکر می‌کردم تجارب ناخوشایندم در بدترین حالت، سوخت هستند، زغال سنگ، بالاخره یک روز به دردم می‌خورند، صرفا رنج و هدر رفتن زندگی نیستند. ص 73 کتاب
تو زندگی هر کس لحظه‌ای می‌رسه شبیه لحظه‌ی میزان شدن شاهین ترازو. اون زمان باید خودت رو بپذیری. دیگه مهم نیست قراره چی بشی. چیزی که هستی و همیشه خواهی بود مهمه. ص 137 کتاب
تمام جمهوری‌های تمام عیار مزخرف تمام عیارند. اشتیاق شدید برای به مخاطره انداختن زندگی آخرین انحراف بزرگ ماست. ما از شب می‌آیم و به شب می‌ریم. چرا توی شب زندگی می‌کنیم؟ ص 160 کتاب
ما حدود سیزده هزار نفر کشته دادیم- سیزده هزار ذهن، خاطره، عشق، حس، دنیا، کهکشان- چرا که ذهن انسان کهکشان‌تره تا خود کهکشان- و همه‌ی این‌ها برای چند صد متر گل که مفت هم نمی‌ارزید. ص 166 کتاب
شما جوون‌های امروز می‌تونید بدن‌هاتون رو عاریه بدید، باهاشون بازی کنید، هر جور که خودتون دوست دارید بذل و بخشش‌شون کنید، ما نمی‌تونستیم. ولی یادت باشه که شما یه بهایی پرداخت کرده‌اید؛ یه دنیای غنی پر رمز و راز و احساسات لطیف رو از کف داده‌اید. فقط گونه‌های جانوران نیستند که منقرض می‌شند. گونه‌های احساسات هم منقرض می‌شند. و اگر عاقل باشی هیچ وقت نباید دلت بابت گذشته‌ای بسوزه که از همه چیزش بی‌خبری. دلت باید به حال خودت بسوزه که اون دوران رو از کف دادی. ص 190 کتاب
هر احمقی می‌تونه برای پدید آوردن یه د��ی��ی معقول‌تر نقشه بکشه. ده دقیقه بیشتر زمان نمی‌بره. حتی پنج دقیقه هم کافیه. ولی اینکه از مردم انتظار داشته باشی معقول زندگی کنند مثل این می‌مونه که ازشون بخوای تا آخر عمر فقط شربت ضد اسهال بخورند. ص 219 کتاب
من یه چیز کثافت نفرت انگیز بدبوی بدمزه دارم که به‌ش می‌گن عشق... خدایا، سفلیس در قیاس با عشق چیز بهتریه... ص 345 کتاب
مرگ ولع زندگی رو به جون‌مون می‌ندازه. بنابراین یاد می‌گیریم تا جاودانگی خودمون رو جعل کنیم. ص 379 کتاب
ولی ما این توانایی را داشتیم که جواب نابکاری‌اش را با چیزی نابکارانه‌تر بدهیم، و دقیقا به این دلیل که انگلیسی بودیم: با نقاب به دنیا آمده بودیم و تربیت شده بودیم برای دروغ‌گویی. ص 438 کتاب
آزادی وجود داره که لبخند وجود داره. فقط یک جهان کاملا از پیش برنامه ریزی شده می‌تونه بدن اون باشه. در نهایت برای گریختن از شوخی نهایی باید قربانی شد- یعنی دقیقا لحظه‌ی مرگ درک می‌کنی که تمام عمر از مرگ فرار کردی تا دست آخر بمیری. وقتی دیگه وجود نداشته باشی، دیگه آزاد هم نیستی. ص 517 کتاب
در این قرن به قدری با ساینس فیکشن خو گرفته‌ایم و به واقعیت علمی دلگرم‌ایم که دیگر هرگز از ماوراء الطبیعه نخواهیم ترسید. ص 579 کتاب
در یونان تمام مکالمات در نهایت به سمت پول تغییر جهت می‌دهند نه سیاست، اگر هم برود سمت سیاست فقط به این دلیل است که با پول ارتباط دارد. ص 620 کتاب
دقایقی طولانی سکوت سایه انداخت و من به رنج فکر کردم، به آزردن دیگران. این تنها حقیقتی بود که اهمیت داشت، این تنها اخلاقیاتی بود که اهمیت داشت، تنها گناه، تنها جنایت. دوباره آن گناه نابخشودنی: باز انسانی بی‌گناهی را رنجانده بودم. ص 757 کتاب
Profile Image for Szplug.
467 reviews1,210 followers
December 15, 2009
I have rarely been so unpleasantly surprised - and bitterly disappointed - by the sudden turn that a novel takes as with the abrupt shift that occurs roughly mid-way through John Fowles The Magus. The first half introduced the ethereal, creepy and gripping experiences of the young Englishman Nicholas Urfe, estranged from his Australian girlfriend Alison and teaching at a boys school on the remote Greek island of Phraxos. Thoroughly disenchanted with the course his life has taken, and gauging with a contemplative eye the distance between the top of the sheer cliffs on the island's shore and the teal waters far below, he stumbles upon the private villa of the mysterious Greek millionaire Maurice Conchis. Select lines from T. S. Eliot's Little Gidding point beguilingly towards the direction that Conchis' tutoring will lead Nicholas - and this early part, with its spectral hauntings, shadowy tales told in charcoal tongues, and erotic temptations from a nubile maiden, one of the troupe that enacts the masques that Conchis enjoys performing, was very good and left me eager to have the mystery solved, the seeingly supernatural elements either explained or expanded upon.

Unfortunately, the book then takes a complete left-turn, an increasingly silly shift into the psychoanalysis of the confused Nicholas, a vast and complex pantomime that goes from one climax to another, all pointing towards a ridiculous amount of time, money, and effort expended upon the most pedestrian after-school special of a goal. It's almost like Fowles had one book in mind when he began writing, then discovered the works of Jung and Freud and Laing and Lacan during a sabbatical, became consumed with their themes and ideas, and decided to resume the novel in a completely different direction. It is still well-written, and I hung through to the end, but toss me in the fridge and call me Frosty, but was I ever pissed with how this sucker turned out. A truly intriguing and otherwordly tale made clinical and cold in the most frustrating of ways (though I realize that, for others, the novel could be the obverse: a cheesy spook-story having been made into a superb analysis of the faults and deceits of an arrogant young man's life, a mind-fuck of the first order). The Magus presents the lamentable case of a potential five-star hit at the box office going off the rails and exiting the theaters early as an average three-star read.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
855 reviews2,129 followers
November 27, 2019
The Canon is What Our Friends Write

“The Magus” is a novel that achieves everything that most of the books pushed and promoted by white American male post-modernists fail to.

It’s genuinely innovative in form. Its form follows and complements its substance. Its narrative style reflects its metaphysical concerns. It doesn’t just name-drop post-modern philosophers or concepts, resembling a cut and paste from an undergraduate philosophy textbook. It genuinely explores the issues in a fictional way.

The metaphysical issues are explored in a metafictional manner as well. Issues that affect perception, understanding and meaning equally affect the structure of the novel, and the relationship between author and character, as well as author and reader.

The novel was enthusiastically supported by Fowles’ publisher, Jonathan Cape, which had previously published works by both James Joyce and Ian Fleming. It was both commercially and critically successful, at one point selling over four million copies.

As a result, its support has diminished in the US ever since, largely because it is Anglo-European (i.e., it is recognisably English, while set on a Greek island) and not the product of a member of the envious American post-modern academic fraternity who moonlight as God’s gift to the homegrown literary avantgarde. Inevitably, therefore, the novel has been buried in the US under the ignominious residue of its initial popularity. Superficially, it’s too accessible for the self-proclaimed post-modern elite.

Twopenny-Halfpenny Don Juan

The novel follows the exploits of a 25 year old Oxford-educated English teacher and budding poet/writer, Nicholas Urfe, who takes a two year assignment at a boarding school modelled on Eton on the fictional Greek island of Phraxos. Nicholas is a bit of a lad, and is trying to escape the clutches of his Australian girlfriend, Alison, who, he suspects, wants to marry him:

“I didn’t collect conquests, but by the time I left Oxford I was a dozen girls away from virginity...I was a snob, a prig, a twopenny-halfpenny Don Juan…You know what Australians are like. They’re terribly half-baked culturally. They don’t really know who they are, where they belong. Part of her was very gauche. Anti-British. She found me very English, very fascinating. Partly it was because I was ‘cultured’, a word she often used...Alison was always feminine; she never, like so many English girls, betrayed her gender. She wasn’t beautiful, she very often wasn’t even pretty. But she had a fashionably thin boyish figure, she had a contemporary dress sense, she had a conscious way of walking, and her sum was extraordinarily more than her parts...She stood there in her white dress, small, innocent-corrupt, coarse-fine, an expert novice...Out of bed I felt I was teaching her, anglicising her accent, polishing off her roughness, her provincialisms; in bed she did the teaching.”

Love of Freedom

Alison responds to the news of his departure:

“I’m going to be an air hostess, and you’re going to Greece. You’re free.”

Nicholas describes his conduct as “calculating”, but argues that “it was caused less by a true coldness than by a narcissistic belief in the importance of the lifestyle. I mistook the feeling of relief that dropping a girl always brought for a love of freedom.”

The Right Anguishes

At Oxford, he belonged to a group called Les Hommes Revoltes, where “we argued about being and nothingness and called a certain kind of inconsequential behaviour ‘existentialist’. Less enlightened people would have called it capricious or just plain selfish; but we didn’t understand that the heroes, or anti-heroes of the French existentialist novels we read were not supposed to be realistic. We tried to imitate them, mistaking metaphorical descriptions of complex modes of feeling for straightforward prescriptions of behaviour. We duly felt the right anguishes…”

Nicholas doesn’t wholly escape the clutches of French existentialism after Oxford. His relationships are not just relationships, but explorations of the existentialist predicament. He must exit them, if he feels that his metaphysical freedom is compromised in any way.

Between Existence and Nothingness

Lonely on Phraxos, Nicholas hypothesises:

“One kind of person is engaged in society without realising it; another engages in society by controlling it. The one is a fear, a cog, and the other an engineer, a driver. But a person who has opted out has only his ability to express his disengagement between his existence and nothingness. Not cogito, but scribo, pingo, ergo sum.”

He feels “a metaphysical sense of being marooned” on Phraxos:

“I was worse off than even Alison was; she hated life, I hated myself. I had created nothing. I belonged to nothingness, to the neant, and it seemed to me that my own death was the only thing left that I could create; and still, even then, I thought it might accuse everyone who had ever known me. It would validate all my cynicism, it would prove all my solitary selfishness; it would stand, and be remembered, as a final dark victory.”

While the language of nothingness belongs to Sartre, the contemplation of suicide owes more to Camus:

“My feelings, at the end of that wretched term, were those of a man who knows he is in a cage, exposed to the jeers of all his old ambitions until he dies.”

The man is still being judged by the adolescent undergraduate. “But then the mysteries began.”


The Mysteries of Bourani

And the mysteries began when Nicholas ventured onto the land surrounding a private villa called Bourani that was owned by Maurice Conchis, who had briefly been the mayor during the German occupation of the island in WWII. He is a former student, but not a follower, of Jung.

What follows takes up most of the novel. From Nicholas’ point of view, it’s written in the style of detective fiction as he tries to learn more about his predicament. On the other hand, it seems that Nicholas has been chosen or elected to enter a kind of magical curtainless theatrical performance or masque or “meta-theatre” where “all here is artifice” (which reminded me of the magic theatre in Herman Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”).

The Novel as Masque

This masque is symbolic of the experimental art form of the novel. Conchis jokes that “the novel is no longer an art form”, then asks “why should I struggle through hundreds of pages of fabrication to reach half a dozen very little truths?” (to which Nicholas responds “For fun?”) This tongue in cheek exchange suggests that the choice is between education and entertainment.

For Nicholas personally, the masque represents a supernatural conflict between order and chaos, between the rational and the irrational, between the predetermined and the willed (or voluntary). He suspects that “something was trying to slip between me and reality”. He feels “as if the world had suddenly been re-invented, and for me alone...You’ve no idea how strange this experience has been. Beautifully strange. Only, you know, it’s one’s sense of reality. It’s like gravity. One can resist it only so long.” Conchis’ role is to be the “chance agent”, ably assisted by two attractive twin sisters from England (Julie/Lily and June/Rose, one of whom, at least, went to Cambridge). They’re playing a game with Nicholas that has two aspects - “one didactic, the other aesthetic.” It’s even hinted that the two girls are “nothing but a personification of your [Nicolas’] own selfishness.”

The Existence of Mysteries

As with any novel, there’s a difference between reality and unreality:

“Verification is the only scientific criterion of reality. That does not mean that there may not be realities that are unverifiable…

“Man needs the existence of mysteries. Not their solution.”

I’ll avoid revealing details of the game: “It would be like telling you the story of a mystery film just before you went to see it.” Suffice to say that the name of the novel was originally supposed to be “The Godgame”.

All is Hazard

Conchis consistently refers to “hazard” rather than “chance”. “There is no plan. All is hazard.” However, it is part of a broader ontology of being and becoming:

“There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be. You are too young to know this. You are still becoming. Not being.”

Conchis thinks of “the word ‘being’ [as] no longer passive and descriptive, but active...almost imperative...You are meant to do as you choose...I must warn you that this evening I give you not a narrative. But a character...We are all actors and actresses...on the stage of the world.”

Rearranging Reality

Later, Lily says to Nicholas, “You must have seen you’re in the hands of someone who’s very skilled at rearranging reality.”

Nicholas acknowledges that “I was experiencing...a new self-acceptance, a sense that I had to be this mind and this body, its vices and its virtues, and that I had no other chance or choice...I had an idea that sooner or later I was going to be asked to perform as well, that this was some initiation to a much darker adventure that I was prepared for, a society, a cult...”

Soon Nicholas feels that he’s playing hide and seek with a group of schizophrenics:

“I was beginning to lose my sense of total sureness that [Conchis] was inventing a new stage of the masque...He was assaying not my powers of belief, but my powers of unbelief.”

Inevitably, Nicholas falls in love with Lily’s “coolness, mystery, elegance” (which overcome Alison’s “energy, candour, companionability” and “her normality, her reality, her predictability”):

“I sensed, behind the outward daring, the duplicities of the past she had been playing, a delicious ghost of innocence, perhaps even of virginity; a ghost I felt particularly well equipped to exorcise, just as soon as time allowed...I knew already that all my past relationships with girls, my selfishness, caddishnesses, even that belittling dismissal of Alison to my past that I had just perpetrated, could now be justified. It was always to be this, and something in me had always known it...

“I imagined a Julie/Lily who had acquired all Alison’s experience and adeptness, her quick passions, her slow lubricities, but enhanced, enriched, diversified by superior taste, intelligence, poetry...”

Endless Interaction

Nicholas could justify his mistreatment of women, because he just hadn’t found the right one yet. He thinks of himself as “difficult, hazardous, poetic”, whereas Alison sees him for what he is: not complicated, but selfish.

Nicholas passes through “stages of knowledge” that are still ultimately philosophical, despite their resemblance to a “mystical experience”:

“I had the sense that this was the fundamental reality and that reality had a universal mouth to tell me so; no sense of divinity, of communion, of the brotherhood of man, of anything I had expected before I became suggestible. No pantheism, no humanism. But something much wider, cooler and more abstruse. That reality was endless inter-action. No good, no evil; no beauty, no ugliness. No sympathy, no antipathy. But simply interaction. The endless solitude of the one, its total enislement from all else, seemed the same thing as the total inter-relationship of the all. All opposites seemed one, because each was indispensable to each. The indifference and the indispensability of all seemed one. I suddenly knew, but in a hitherto unexperienced sense of knowing, that all else exists.

“Knowing, willing, being wise, being good, education, information, classification, knowledge of all kinds, sensibility, sexuality, these things seemed superficial. I had no desire to state or define or analyse this interaction, I simply wished to constitute it - not even ‘wished to’ - I constituted it. I was volitionless. There was no meaning. Only being...

“At the same time a parabola, a fall, an ejaculation; but the transience, the passage, had become an integral part of the knowledge of the experience. The becoming and the being were one.”

“An Answer is Always a Form of Death”

Towards the end of the novel, Nicholas is told:

“In the godgame we start from the premise that in reality all is fiction, yet no single fiction is necessary.”.

Outside the godgame, we are all waiting for the meaning of life to be made (or to become) apparent to us. Only, to say that it becomes apparent for anybody is a lie. If anything, we must all continue waiting.

Freedom and Love

On the other hand, it’s possible that the meaning of freedom comes only from love:

“When I loved you, it meant everything you said or did to me had meaning. Emotional meaning. It moved me, excited me. It depressed me…”

“Tomorrow, let them love, who have never loved;
They who have loved, let them love again, tomorrow.”

The Folly of the Metaphysical Detective Story

Whatever attempts the reader makes to understand the novel must be qualified by both these words and the words Fowles has Nicholas say towards the end:

“By searching so fanatically I was making a detective story out of the summer’s events, and to view life as a detective story, as something that could be deduced, hunted and arrested, was no more realistic (let alone poetic) than to view the detective story as the most important literary genre, instead of what it really was, one of the least.”

First published in 1966, “The Magus” seems to mirror some of Thomas Pynchon’s perspective in “The Crying of Lot 49” (published in the same year).

Profile Image for Eliasdgian.
407 reviews105 followers
October 20, 2018
Ο μάγος, λοιπόν. Επτακόσιες εβδομήντα πέντε σελίδες μετά (εξακολουθώ να) αναρωτιέμαι αν μπορώ στ’ αλήθεια, εν είδει κριτικής αποτίμησης, να συμπτύξω σε μερικές γραμμές όσα ένιωσα διαβάζοντάς τον. Αν, τελικά, μπορώ να εξηγήσω λογικά καθετί που αναδύθηκε στις σελίδες του ή, πολύ περισσότερο, να βεβαιώσω με παρρησία ότι, ναι, αντιλήφθηκα με βεβαιότητα τι ήταν λογικό εδώ μέσα και τι η αντανάκλασή του• πού ο John Fowles αναφερόταν στην πραγματικότητα και πού ύφαινε πάνω της.

Ας ειπωθεί μονάχα ότι όλος αυτός ο αλλιώτικος κόσμος που αποκαλύπτεται στο Μπουράνι της Φράξου [σημ.: το ‘περιφραγμένο’ νησί του Μάγου δεν είναι άλλο από τις Σπέτσες, όπου ο Fowles δίδαξε το 1951 και το 1952 σε ένα ιδιωτικό οικοτροφείο], μπρος στα μάτια του άλλοτε κατάπληκτου κι άλλοτε οργισμένου καθηγητή της Αγγλικής, Νικόλα Ερφ, δεν είναι απλά μια ψυχρά υπολογισμένη άσκηση φαντασίας ή ένα ενδιαφέρον εγκεφαλικό παιχνίδι με ενορχηστρωτή τον ίδιο τον Fowles ή έστω τον ‘Μάγο’, τον αλλόκοτο ιδιοκτήτη μιας βίλας στις άκριες του νησιού, αλλά μια περιπλάνηση του αναγνώστη σ’ ένα αξεδιάλυτο όνειρο ή, ορθότερα, σε μια πραγματικότητα παραδοξοτήτων, όπου τα παρελθόντα των ηρώων συγκρούονται, η αφήγηση ολοένα αναδεικνύει νέες διεξόδους από τον λαβύρινθο, κι (όπου) η αίσθηση του ταξιδέματος σ’ ένα εναλλακτικό λογοτεχνικό σύμπαν χωρίς την ανάγκη ενός a priori καθορισμένου προορισμού, κάνει την ανάγνωση μια συναρπαστική, σχεδόν βιωματική εμπειρία.

Βαθμός; Αναρωτιέμαι. Τέσσερα αστέρια (νομίζω).
[…] κατάλαβα, τώρα που ήμουν κοντά του, τι είχαν κάνει στο στόμα του. Του το είχαν κάψει, όχι απλώς χτυπήσει ή κλωτσήσει. Θυμήθηκα εκείνο τον άντρα με τη σιδερένια βέργα, την ηλεκτρική φωτιά. Είχαν σπάσει τα δόντια του και έκαψαν τη γλώσσα ως τη ρίζα με το κατακόκκινο σίδερο. Αυτή η λέξη που είχε φωνάξει ξεπέρασε την αντοχή τους. Και σ’ αυτά τα πέντε εκπληκτικά δευτερόλεπτα, τα πιο βαρυσήμαντα της ζωής μου, κατάλαβα αυτόν τον αντάρτη. Δηλαδή κατάλαβα πολύ καλύτερα απ’ ό,τι ο ίδιος, τι ήταν. Με βοήθησε. Κατόρθωσε να τεντώσει το κεφάλι του προς το μέρος μου και να πει τη λέξη που δεν μπορούσε. Σχεδόν δεν ήταν ήχος, αλλά ένας σπασμός στον λαιμό του, ένα πεντασύλλαβο πνίξιμο. Για άλλη μία φορά, τελευταία φορά, ήταν χωρίς αμφιβολία αυτή η λέξη. Και η λέξη ήταν στα μάτια του, στο είναι του, σ’ ολόκληρο το είναι του. Τι είπε ο Χριστός στον Σταυρό; Γιατί με εγκαταλείπεις; Αυτό που είπε αυτός ο άντρας ήταν κάτι πολύ λιγότερο συμπονετικό, πολύ λιγότερο αξιολύπητο, ακόμα λιγότερο ανθρώπινο, όμως πολύ πιο βαθύ. Μιλούσε από έναν κόσμο εντελώς αντίθετο από τον δικό μου. Στον δικό μου η ζωή ήταν ανεκτίμητη. Ήταν τόσο πολύτιμη που δεν είχε τιμή. Στον δικό του ένα μόνο πράγμα μπορούσε να είναι ανεκτίμητο. Η ελευθερία. Ήταν το άπλαστο, το απόσταγμα, το πέρα από τη λογική, πέρα από την αντίληψη, πέρα από τον πολιτισμό, πέρα από την Ιστορία. Δεν ήταν Θεός, γιατί δεν μπορούμε να γνωρίσουμε τον Θεό. Όμως ήταν μια απόδειξη πως υπάρχει ένας Θεός που δεν θα τον γνωρίσουμε ποτέ. Ήταν το τελικό δικαίωμα της άρνησης. Της ελευθερίας επιλογής [...]
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,001 reviews1,288 followers
March 12, 2022
الساحر أول رواية كتبها الأديب الإنجليزي جون فاولز
يتتبع فيها شاب يسافر إلى جزيرة يونانية للعمل كمدرس للغة الإنجليزية
يتعرف على أحد أثرياء الجزيرة ويدخل في عالمه الغامض
يكتب فاولز عن عالم غريب من الحيل والتلاعب والأوهام الخادعة والشخصيات المتنكرة
يتوه فيه نيكولاس بطل روايته وكأنه يشاهد عرض تمثيلي وفي نفس الوقت هو طرف فيه
إلى أن يصل لحالة من الغضب والحيرة محاولا البحث عن الحقيقة وسط الأكاذيب
قد تكون أسباب التجربة التي مر بها غير مهمة لكن الأهم كانت موضوعات وإشارات السرد
الرواية تمر على قضايا أخلاقية ونفسية وتصورات فلسفية عن المعتقدات والحياة
وتبحث في طبيعة الحب والحرية, حرية الفعل والاختيار
الأسلوب سلس لكن الرواية مُطولة تقترب من 700 صفحة
وفي العموم يهتم فاولز في رواياته بالجوانب النفسية للشخصيات وشكل وطبيعة علاقات الحب بينهم
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,667 followers
February 16, 2020
“There is no plan. All is hazard. And the only thing that will preserve us is ourselves.”
― John Fowles, The Magus


What is written here must remain hid
Profile Image for fคrຊคຖ.tຖ.
251 reviews63 followers
June 29, 2019
اگه از داستان‌های غافلگیر کننده خوشتون میاد حتما سراغ این کتاب برید :) در این رمان طولانی، چندین بار غافلگیر شدم که یک‌بارش که مهم‌ترینش هم هست، در همذات پنداری با راوی، به شدت ناراحت و عصبانی شدم! درسته که شخص اول داستان آدم درست و حسابی‌ای نیست ولی فکر می‌کنم به دلیل اینکه داستان از زبان شخص اول روایت می‌شه ناخودآگاه باهاش احساس همدردی کردم! و شدتِ سرخوردگی و احساس تحقیر و عصبانیتش رو کاملا درک کردم :((((( . پایان داستان باز هست. اگه دوست ندارید سراغش نرید! حرف دیگه‌ای که می‌تونم درباره‌اش بگم اینه که به نظرم اواسطش افت داشت و می‌تونست دویست سیصد صفحه‌ای کمتر باشه. 🤔 برای همین نمی‌تونم مثل بعضی دوستان با  قطعیت بگم ارزش قیمتشو داره! شاید برای بعضی‌ها کسل کننده بشه و بابت خریدش پشیمون بشن
Profile Image for Chia.
41 reviews72 followers
June 11, 2019
از سری شاهکار‌های پیمان خاکسار.
این نمونه رو ببینید تو صفحه‌ی دوم.

ترجمه : «شریِ‌سِک» میخوردیم... 😶
و اما اصل جمله :
drank very dry sherry

sherry :
شراب اسپانیایی که خیلی قوی هست

dry sherry :
منظور این هست که شراب شیرین نیست، چون مثل اینکه اون شراب انواع مختلف تلخ و شیرین داره

و این اشتباه و سهل‌انگاری کلاً معنی جمله رو از بین میبره، شراب تلخ نوشیدنِ راوی با «شریِ‌سِک» نوشیدن قطعاً خیلی فرق میکنه.
طبق گفته‌ی دوستم، کلمه شراب از فیلتر ارشاد رد نمیشه، اما فکر میکنم این ر��طی به این کلمه عجیب نداره، میشد یه جایگزین بهتر قرار داد.

نوشیدنی رو هم مینوشند، نمیخورند.

وای به حال بقیه کتاب ۸۰۰ صفحه‌ای.

هنوز اولاشم، فقط خواستم این اینجا باشه فعلاً و بعد تموم شدن آپدیت میکنم و امتیاز میدم.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,478 reviews938 followers
July 29, 2019

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!

“The Magus” is a debut novel. Fowles himself acknowledges in the preface to the reviewed edition that he practically taught himself how to write by working on this project over more than a decade. That’s what makes the novel both sublime and muddled. And probably the most honest account of a young man’s struggle to understand the intricate web of the human mind and the ways love blooms and fails, the way love turns, like Nabokov once said, into rust and stardust.

In 1964 I went to work and collated and rewrote all the previous drafts. But The Magus remained essentially where a tyro taught himself to write novels – beneath its narrative, a notebook of an exploration, often erring and misconceived, into an unknown land.

I was by turns enchanted and bored to death during this 2019 re-read. I am no longer as young and as easily enchanted as the first time around, but reading the preface has made it a lot easier to navigate through the labyrinth Nicholas Urfe is traversing on his way to emotional maturity.

My heart was beating faster than it should. It was partly at the thought of meeting Julie, partly at something far more mysterious, the sense that I was now deep in the strangest maze in Europe. Now I really was Theseus; somewhere in the darkness Ariadne waited; and perhaps the Minotaur.

Now I am left with the difficult task of reducing all this wealth of material, this Behemoth of repressed urges, cultural references and psychological mind-games to the approved Goodreads wordcount, discarding probably half of the bookmarks I’ve initially considered important in the text.
What I really need are a few anchor points, pivotal moments and key stories that guide Nicholas Urfe and the reader through the maze:

1. Nicholas is chosen as a typical British intellectual of the early post-war society, slightly cynical, selfish, arrogant and self-deceiving
2. At its core, this a love story, between Urfe and Alison, but examined in an allegorical, mythical way
3. Greece, its landscape, its culture and its people are the catalyst as well as the backdrop for the journey
4. Psychoanalysis, Carl Jung in particular, explains most of the games and parables used by Conchis, the magus
5. There is no right or wrong answer to the puzzles. The author build his novel around the idea of choice, so each reader will arrive at a different destination at the end of the labyrinth

I have oversimplified the plot here, trying to put my notes into some sort of order. I might as well have chosen to write the whole review focused on a single Conchis story, allegory or quotation. I have a feeling the end result will be as messy as the novel itself.

=1= Nicholas Urfe

Handsomely equipped to fail I went out into the world.

A typical young man from a middle class family with an authoritarian father and an indifferent mother. He goes to the right schools, studies the classical subjects, joins the fashionable clubs (existentialist affectations), is moderately handsome and has an easy time with the ladies. But once university is over, he is bored to death by his job, by his peers and by his future prospects as a mediocre teacher of English.

It poured with rain the day I left. But I was filled with excitement, a strange exuberant sense of taking wing. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew what I needed. I needed a new land, a new race, a new language; and, although I couldn’t have put it into words then, I needed a new mystery.

We have here articulated for the first time the idea that a life without magic, without a higher purpose is not worth living. At this moment of the journey, Nicholas is honestly a major a$$hole, not capable of seeing beyond his own comforts, prone to navel gazing and self-pity. Things will not improve in a drastic way over the rest of the novel.

= 2 = Alison

Boy meets girl, in a bohemian setting, in Russell Square. This is by far my favorite part of the novel, for multiple personal reasons, reasons that made me dislike Nicholas intensely, probably because I recognized too many of his affectations and dissimulation from my own past. Also because, on my first visit to London earlier in the year, I stayed on Gower Street, literally a stone throw away from the apartment described in the novel.

Alison is an Australian girl, free of the usual British inhibitions that reveal Nicholas to be a bit of a prude and a snob. Few young men would appreciate a gift too easily offered, and Alison will soon have cause to regret her devotion. I’m firmly on team Alison after a seminal discussion on life goals, after watching the classic “Quai des Brumes”, also one of my all time favorites:

That film made me feel what I feel about everything. There isn’t any meaning. You try and try to be happy and then something chance happens and it’s all gone. It’s because we don’t believe in a life after death. [...] Every time you go out and I’m not with you I think you may die. I think about dying every day. Every time I have you, I think this is one in the eye for death. You know, you’ve got a lot of money and the shops are going to shut in an hour. It’s sick, but you’ve got to spend. Does that makes sense?

I’ve had this sort of moment, and I reacted in much the same way as Nicholas, laughing it off at the time, remembering it now from the far side of 50. Fowles pays his dues also in the introduction, talking about his own return to England, although I would not advise drawing any parallels between the author and his fictional character:

I had escaped Circe, but the withdrawal symptoms were severe. I had not then realized that loss is essential for the novelist, immensely fertile for his books, however painful to his private being.

Allow me one last piece of Alison dialogue (the essence of asymmetric warfare in a relationship), before we head to sunnier places:

“I don’t wanna hurt you and the more I ... want you, the more I shall. And I don’t want you to hurt me, and the more you don’t want me the more you will.”

= 3 = Circe

Greece is seen here as the mythical enchantress that has shocked Nicholas out of his phlegmatic British disposition, made his aware of his artistic pretensions and emotional arrested development. Like Odysseus, Nicholas is in danger of losing himself completely to the magic of these sunny islands. Bourani, the palatial residence of the secretive magnate Conchis, is seen often as a Garden of Eden from which Adam/Nicholas will be exiled after asking one too many questions.

In England we live in a very muted, calm, domesticated relationship with what remains of our natural landscape and its soft, northern light; in Greece landscape and light are so beautiful, so all-present, so intense, so wild, that the relationship is immediately love-hatred, one of passion.

Fowles speaks from direct experience, and demonstrates that when he is truly moved, he is one hell of a writer. This year was also my first to visit a Greek island, and the descriptive passages in the book resonate strongly, especially when anticipating the scourge of modern tourism that mostly destroys the things it is supposed to cherish

Goodness and beauty may be separable in the north, but not in Greece. Between skin and skin there is only light.

= 4 = Bourani = the world is a stage, the stage is the world

Everything that went before is the set-up for the spectacle introducing the players (Nicholas, Alison). Now the director, Maurice Conchis, makes his entrance, and everything you think you know will soon be turned around and stood on its head. Deliberately, mischievously, sadistically even. To what purpose? That’s for you, the reader, to decide.

The most striking thing about him was the intensity of his eyes; very dark brown, staring, with a simian penetration emphasized by the remarkably clear whites, eyes that seemed not quite human.

I’ll give you a key to understanding Conchis: he lies! all the time, about everything! Stop trying to make sense of his motivations, and you can begin to understand that you’re not supposed to understand him. At all!

From the same essential introduction to the revised edition, the inception of Conchis is explained:

... a series of masks representing human notions of God, from the supernatural to the jargon-ridden scientific; that is, a series of human illusions about something that does not exist in fact, absolute knowledge and absolute power. The destruction of such illusions seems to me still an eminently humanist aim.

Beware of people who think they know everything. Nicholas Urfe is one of them, so full of pride at his intellect, yet so timid to explore his own subconscious motivations.

God and freedom are totally antipathetic concepts; and men believe in their imaginary gods most often because they are afraid to believe in the other thing. I am old enough to realize now that they do so sometimes with good reason. But I stick by the general principle, and that is what I meant to be at the heart of my story: that true freedom lies between each two, never in one alone, and therefore it can never be absolute freedom.

That was also my first philosophy lesson in college. I bristled at the time at the concept that “Freedom is the understanding of necessity” (attributed to Engels I think). An imposition on my own free will I thought at the time, before reading that famous Steinbeck passage in “East of Eden” (timshel). Conchis embraces a similar point of view in a dispute with Nicholas

‘No man is an island.’
‘Pah. Rubbish. Every one of us is an island. If it were not so we should go mad at once. Between these islands are ships, aeroplanes, telephones, wireless – what you will. But they remain islands. Islands that can sink or disappear for ever. You are an island that has not sunk. You cannot be such a pessimist. It is not possible.’

So, we are ready to begin the journey through the labyrinth of self-discovery, deploying mostly psychological warfare and modern parables, as told by the magus Conchis and his creatures of both sexes. We start with a nod to T S Eliot and ‘Little Giding’, included in my review because I love the elegance and the concision of his discourse, as opposed to the hundreds of pages of almost drivel in the novel:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

One way to re-examine the past is through art. Conchis gives pride of place in his villa to a painting by Bonnard. Nicholas sees in it an echo of his time in London with the girls he scorned.

Sunlight. A naked girl. A chair. A towel, a bidet. A tiled floor. A little dog. And he gives the whole existence a reason.
It was an unforgettable painting; it set a dense golden halo of light round the most trivial of moments, so that the moment, and all such moments, could never be completely trivial again.

It may not be very original to remark that we mostly recognize Love in retrospect, after the bird has flown, but I give Fowles bonus points for finding the best reference

Next, I believe, comes the story of de Deukans and of that annoying Latin quote :

“Utram bibis? Aquam an undam?”

Make of it what you want (I repeat myself, I know) : prose versus poetry, existentialism versus romantism, utilitarian versus elitism, modernism versus clasicism, science versus the supernatural, capitalism versus communism, the self versus the community. The story is told deliberately in an ambiguous way, its role is to provoke, not to explain.

The same could be said of Seidevarre, the Norwegian episode: mysticism and the need for the unexplained in life, the need to leave behind your certainties if you want to make progress towards the unknown. What makes these stories special is not their actual content, but the way Conchis uses them to tackle the higher metaphysical concepts, the way authors have done it from Ghilghamesh to David Mitchell – the storyteller as the magician of the soul.

The solution of the physical problems that face man – that is a matter of technology. But I am talking about general psychological health of the species, man. He needs the existence of mysteries. Not their solution.

Next, and for a long time, comes the game of cat and mouse between Nicholas and his new love interest : Julie/ Lily. This one is easier to follow, as it is mostly payback for the way he treated Alison, but there are subtleties to the discourse.

The essences of the two sexes had become so confused in my androgynous twentieth-century mind that this reversion to a situation where a woman was a woman and I was obliged to be fully a man had all the fascination of an old house after a cramped, anonymous modern flat. I had been enchanted into wanting sex often enough before; but never into wanting love.

Nicholas is forced to examine the difference between lust and desire with Julie as a mysterious Ariadne that is one moment an old-fashioned British maiden, the next an emancipated modern hussy. From the many possible quotes available here, I settled on the most simple one, from Conchis, a warning Nicholas fails to heed.

We are all actors, and actresses, Mr Urfe. You included.

The warning comes also from Julie / Lily:

“The real me’s a lot less exciting than the imaginary one.”

Especially when it comes to the person we love, we always lie in order to present ourselves in a better light, or to get easier out of a sticky conversation, to convince ourselves our sentiments are returned. You don’t need a degree in psychology, or highly elaborate masquerades to understand that Nicholas is guilty of being a deceiver, to others and to himself, in particular over the episode of his reunion with Alison in Athens.

As a parenthesis, Fowles comes up with another timely literary reference that I would like to explore further as he presents us with a couple of young lovers en contretemps (‘Huis Clos’ by Jean Paul Sartre) is mentioned by Alison.

I’m getting tired, so I will gloss over the next two major developments : the firing squad parable (a variation of the ‘timshel’ argument) and the mock trial (a parody and a denunciation of the limits of psychoanalysis)

We must always remember that the subject has been launched into the world with no training in self-analysis and self-orientation; and that almost all the education he has received is positively harmful to him. He was, so to speak, born short-sighted by nature and has been further blinded by his environments. It is small wonder that he cannot find his way.

What is important in the economy of the novel is that Nicholas is exiled from Prospero’s Island (yes the analogy is noted by Conchis), is released from Circe’s imprisonment, sent out from the Garden of Eden, and back to London to atone for his sins.

And a great cloud of black guilt, knowledge of my atrocious selfishness, settled on me.

Even now, returning to the place where the journey began, looking at the world with newly opened eyes, Nicholas is still prone to navel gazing and to bouts of selfishness. Fowles is once again deliberately ambiguous about the ultimate fate of his characters, but he does offers us another couple of precious keys.

First is the meeting of Mrs. de Seitas, an explicit nod to Charles Dickens and ‘Great Expectations’ , where Nicholas is given two lessons in love. I’ll put them in spoilers, although I consider this is not a plot driven novel:

Nicholas has trespassed on both laws with Alison, so his redemption is up to us to decide about. The author notes down his preference in yet another Latin passage, which I will also translate between spoiler tags, for those who prefer surprises:

cras amet qui numquam amavit
quique amavit cras amet.

Profile Image for Panagiotis.
297 reviews104 followers
January 14, 2020
Ο Μάγος του Φάουλς είναι ένα από εκείνα τα βιβλία που που όλοι ξέρουμε, αλλά πολλοί δεν έχουμε διαβάσει. Προσωπικά το είχα απωλέσει σε εκείνη την επικράτεια που πάνε όλα τα αργοπορημένα αναγνώσματα: αν δεν έχουν διαβαστεί στην ώρα τους, δηλαδή σε μια ηλικία που ήμουν πιο διαλλακτικός αρκεί να είχε το βιβλίο την φερεγγυότητα της ευρείας αποδοχής, τότε ας μείνει στην σκόνη της άγνοιας. Δεν χάθηκε κι ο κόσμος. Ευτυχώς για μένα, υποχώρησα στις πιέσεις της αδερφής μου και το διάβασα. Θα ήταν μια τεράστια απώλεια για μένα. Ήρθε να συμπληρώσει ένα από εκείνα τα κενά του ακόρεστου αναγνώστη. Εκεί που μπαίνουν τα τεράστια βιβλία.

Ο Μάγος δεν είναι βιβλίο που κατατάσσεται εύκολα: ένας νεαρός βρετανός πηγαίνει στο επινοημένο νησί Φραξός (βρίσκεται στην Ανατολική Πελοπόννησο, κοντά στις Σπέτσες), για να διδάξει έναν χρόνο σε ένα σχολείο της υψηλής κοινωνίας. Εκεί θα έρθει σε επαφή με μια αινιγματική φιγούρα, ένα κράμα δαιμόνιου κοσμοπολίτη και διανοούμενου. Και εκεί ξεκινάει ένα παράξενο παιχνίδι παραπλάνησης, καταβύθισης σε φιλοσοφικές και ψυχολογικές σφαίρες. Θα μπορούσε να ενταχθεί αδρά σε βιβλία όπου ο χαρακτήρας, μέσα από μια έντονη σχέση γνωρίζει τον εαυτό του, που ωριμάζει. Αλλά και πάλι αυτό δεν περιγράφει ικανοποιητικά το θρίλερ που βιώνει ο αναγνώστης, μαζί με τον πρωταγωνιστή, καθώς όσο προσπαθεί να βρει απαντήσεις για αυτό που ζει, μπλέκεται ολοένα και πιο βαθιά στον ιστό που εξυφαίνεται από τις αινιγματικές φιγούρες που έχουν πάρει μέρος σε αυτό το παραμύθι. Τί είναι πραγματικότητα και τι ψέμα;

Ο αναγνώστης θα μπερδευτεί. Μα θα το απολαύσει με μια μαζοχιστική λαχτάρα. Γιατί ο Φάουλς γράφει εξαιρετικά. Εθιστικά καλά. Με χιούμορ και εξαιρετική διεισδυτικότητα στους χαρακτήρες, με κυνισμό αλλά και ευαισθησία. Το βιβλίο βρίθει ιδεών, ιστορικών αναφορών. Η πραγματικότητα ταράζεται από την εισβολή του μύθου, και το καθημερινό, το χειροπιαστό πατάσσεται από την γοητεία του άπιαστου και χιμαιρικού. Είναι ένας πλούτος, ένα πυροτέχνημα που σκάει και το μετείκασμά του αποτυπώνεται έντονα. Ίσως υπάρχει κάτι το οποίο θα μπορούσε να αναχαιτίσει τον ενθουσιασμό μου: στα μισά του βιβλίου οι ανατροπές αποκτούν μια τέτοια συχνότητα, που με κάθε γύρισμα της σελίδας ένιωθα πως είχα φάει μια σφαλιάρα. Και κάπου φάνταζε σαν ένα τέχνασμα για να γεμίσει ο Φάουλς ένα ήδη τεράστιο βιβλίο. Επιπλέον, στους αναγνώστες που αποζητούν απαντήσεις ολοκληρωτικές: το βιβλίο δεν τις δίνει. Ή δεν τις δίνει στο πιάτο. Νομίζω κάτι τέτοιο θα ήταν ενάντια στον δαιδαλώδη χαρακτήρα του. Πλησιάζεις το φως, αλλά δεν ξέρεις αν βρήκες την σωστή έξοδο.

Τελικά αξίζει; Για την εξαιρετική γραφή του, την ροή του και τον πλούτο γνώσεων και ιδεών που διακατέχουν το βιβλίο και που τόσο μαεστρικά χειρίζεται ο Φάουλς, και ακό��α περισσότερο για την πρωτότυπη ιδέα και το τόσο μοντέρνο τρόπου που το έχει γράψει, λέω ναι. Ανταπεξέρχεται στη φήμη του, και δεκαετίες μετά, όχι μόνο είναι ένα απολαυστικό βιβλίο αλλά και ένα πρωτότυπο, πλούσιο βιβλίο που κάνει την πλειοψηφία αυτών των 5 – 10 βιβλίων που προβάλλονται από τους λογοτεχνικούς κύκλους κάθε χρόνο, να φαντάζουν λίγα, διεκπεραιωτικά. Πρέπει να πάρει 5 αστεράκια. Από εκείνα τα 5, τα δυνατά, που λάμπουν, όπως λάμπει και το ίδιο παρέα πια με τα λίγα, εκείνα βιβλία για τα οποία θα μιλάω για πάντα.
Profile Image for Майя Ставитская.
1,256 reviews122 followers
September 1, 2022
"The Magus", not "The Collector" and not even "The Woman of the French lieutenant" - it is "The Magus" that is the calling card of the star of world postmodernism, The intricate story of a young Englishman whose dreams of exoticism first turn into a dull routine of a teacher in a Greek school, but then fate - in full accordance with the theory of the Universe that fulfills the cherished wishes, gives a meeting with amazing people in amazing circumstances. Fills existence with a new meaning, bright and promising.

Life is whimsical, refined, complex and simple, beautiful and terrible, charming and disgusting. And so on indefinitely. It is characterized, sometimes, by baroque excess. Generating a similar novel and a similar hero. The first is extremely voluminous, with an unintelligible plot, but allusions and references to classical mythology abound. The second, yes, these are Brodsky's lines: "What can I say about a life that turned out to be long. Only with grief do I feel solidarity."

Without continuing, which I love with all my heart: "But as long as my mouth is not filled with clay, only gratitude will be heard from it." It seems, but it doesn't seem, but it is, senselessly and unreasonably long. This plunges the reader (prepared and responsible, I note) not even into grief, into the depths of despair: but when will the drudgery end and will there be any sense from a million torments.

As for gratitude, it seems that Fowles and his heroes are alien to its very concept. To live in an earthly paradise and never raise your eyes above the raised priapus loins. Your will, gentlemen, in my humble opinion, this is not indifference half with pride even. This is a clinical form of mournful insensibility.

Ощущаете ли вы себя Призванным?
"Волхв", а не "Коллекционер" и даже не "Женщина французского лейтенанта" - именно "Волхв" визитная карточка звезды мирового постмодернизма Замысловатая история молодого англичанина, чьи мечты об экзотике сначала оборачиваются тусклой рутиной преподавателя в греческой школе, но потом судьба - в полном соответствии с теорией о Вселенной, что исполняет заветные желания, дарит встречу с потрясающими людьми в удивительных обстоятельствах. Наполняет существование новым смыслом, ярким и многообещающим.

Жизнь причудлива изыскана, сложна и проста, прекрасна и ужасна, очаровательна и отвратительна. И так до бесконечности. Ей присуще, иной раз, барочное излишество. Порождающее подобный роман и подобног�� героя. Первый объемен чрезвычайно, с маловразумительным сюжетом, но аллюзиями и отсылками к мифологии-классике в изобилии. Второй, да вот эти строчки Бродского: "Что сказать мне о жизни, что оказалась длинной. Только с горем я чувствую солидарность".

Без продолжения, которое люблю всей душой: "Но покуда мне рот не забили глиной, из него раздаваться будет лишь благодарность". Это кажется, да не кажется, а есть, бессмысленно и неоправданно длинным. Это ввергает читателя (подготовленного и ответственного, замечу) не в горе даже, в пучины отчаяния: да когда же тягомотина закончится и будет ли хоть какой толк из мильона терзаний.

Что до благодарности, похоже, Фаулзу и его героям чуждо само ее понятие. Жить в земном раю и ни разу не поднять глаза выше вздыбленных приаповых чресел. Воля ваша, господа, на мой скромный взгляд, это не равнодушие пополам с гордыней даже. Это клиническая форма скорбного бесчувствия.

Которое смутно прозревают в себе (именно, что смутно, оттого и преодолевать пытаются средствами, только усугубляющими) герои. Они играют. Сплошь умозрительные, высосанные из пальца, ни малейшего эмоционального отклика не вызывающие ситуации. Страшно признаться, даже рассказ о зверствах нацистов и расстреле восьмидесяти заложников. На всем, происходящем с героями и в их, претендующем на сложность, внутреннем мире, пыль труха, а кое-где плесень.

Кукольные страсти, убогое динамо, рядящееся попеременно в наряды греческой трагедии, шекспировских драм и романов артурова цикла. Есть поговорка: "Меня обманули, пусть им будет стыдно. Меня обманули дважды - пусть будет стыдно мне". Убогого рассудком Николаса обманывают раз за разом, громоздя нелепицу на нелепицу, да ему лгут здесь каждым своим словом. И чем иным, кроме душевной слепоты, возведенной в абсолют, можно объяснить упорство, с каким отвергает доводы рассудка.

В "Розе Мира" Даниила Андреева ес��ь понятие монады, как богорожденной, богосотворенной частицы сущего. Мироздание являет собой бесчисленное множество монад и многообразные виды создаваемых ими реальностей. Демоны всех сортов пытаются сравняться с Богом, создавая собственные пародии на монады. С одним, но главным отличием. Искусственно созданные, те стремятся в сути своей к одному - пожрать, уничтожить сколько возможно много божьего мира. Не приблизиться к Творцу и слиться с ним в итоге, пройдя свой круг, как монады.

Всякому, возомнившему себя на пустом месте Богом, полезно помнить об этом свойстве. Пустота порождает лишь пустоту. Жгуче-интересный роман, а исполнение Игоря Князева образца "минус десятилетие" - возможность для поклонников не только послушать знаменитую книгу в эталонном исполнении. но и сравнить сегодняшние впечатления от любимого чтеца с тем, что было прежде.
Profile Image for Robin.
475 reviews2,557 followers
February 18, 2017
Conspiracy Theorist Fantasy

Oh, brother.

I had high hopes for this book. Such high hopes.

I read and really enjoyed The Collector. John Fowles is a wonderful writer. This book is no exception. This story takes place mainly in Greece, on the island of Phraxos, where English 20-something misogynist Nicholas Urfe goes to escape his recent relationship with his Australian girlfriend, Alison. He meets an enigmatic man who looks like Pablo Picasso, named Maurice Conchis. And then the inexplicable, the surreal, begins to happen. Mysterious twins, people in costumes. Things that make Nicholas question reality. The reader begins to question too. It's compelling at first. Seductive and erotic.

...all naked women become the same naked woman, the eternal naked woman; who could not die, who could only be celebrated...

It becomes quite tiresome though, after several hundred pages of the same "Twilight Zone" music, the same "woo-woo" stories and odd behaviours, the endless ambiguity. It was painfully long in this regard. It lost its power - after a while I just stopped caring whether whatever Maurice, the master puppeteer, said was true, or what the real intentions of the other characters were, or what. What is real? What is truth? Is it all a big conspiracy?

An answer is always a form of death.

I tend to agree with other reviewers who say this would be better read earlier in life. There are interesting ideas here, and bits of gorgeous, sensual prose, but ultimately served to frustrate and bore me.
Profile Image for Sine.
297 reviews318 followers
May 17, 2021
yani bu kitabı sevmek için çok uğraştım, gerçekten. normalde okumayacağım bir hızda, müsait olduğum her an okudum, dikkatli okudum, öyle geçiştirmedim... ama olmadı. yani kitabın ne yapmaya “çalıştığını” da anlıyorum, ve bunda hayli başarılı da; gerçekten şaşırmaktan yoruldum. ama kitabın ana karakteri gibi bu oyunun parçası olmaktan ve keşfetmeye çalışmaktan hoşlanmadım. benim bir okur olarak ya dışardan bakabilmem ya da ipuçları bulabilmem lazım, ama herhalde labirentteki fare bile benim bu kitabı okuyan halimden daha fazla yön duygusuna sahiptir. dayatan metinlerden hoşlanmıyorum yani. dümdüz insan olmamın bir sonucu herhalde. metinle, kelimelerle oynanması; buna şahit olmak hoşuma gidiyor ama bir okur olarak benimle oynanması ve buna hiçbir dahlim olmadan yaklaşık 700 sayfa eziyet çekmek, üzgünüm ama, pek hoşuma gitmedi. sevenin niye sevdiğini anlayabiliyorum ama i’m too old for this shit.
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