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The Collector

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  61,206 ratings  ·  4,007 reviews
Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time.
Paperback, Vintage Classics, 283 pages
Published October 21st 1998 by Vintage (first published 1963)
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Stefania Lazar Because having disturbing content and being a good book are not mutually exclusive. I wouldn't go as far as calling it one of the best books of the 20…moreBecause having disturbing content and being a good book are not mutually exclusive. I wouldn't go as far as calling it one of the best books of the 20th century, but it was very well-written. The psychological abuse, the description of both the villain's and the victim's attitudes vs. thoughts, the games and strategies each of them devised to try and control the other... it was very disturbing, but at the same time a riveting read.

I'm not sure what PG-13 means. If it means ”appropriate for anyone over 13”, I don't think it is. The psychological abuse depicted here is pretty strong and the ending is veeery creepy. I think it would be too shocking for a 13 year-old kid. Hell, it shocked me a lot, and I've seen many seasons of Criminal Minds :) 15-16 year-olds, yes, maybe. Then again, it always depends on the kid.(less)
Liz I know you asked this two years ago, but it was Leonard Lake and Charles Ng.

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  61,206 ratings  ·  4,007 reviews

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Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Rather than go into the plot details I'd rather touch on the larger metaphors of the book in this review. Although the basic plot is chilling enough on its own (A man kidnaps a beautiful and intelligent young girl) the parts that truly disturbed me had to do more with what I believe Fowles was saying about modern culture and the rise of the middle class. Though this book is decidedly "British" in many ways, I think the issues he raises are applicable to any society where a large middle class is ...more
Petra-X is getting covered in Soufriere ash
I read this when I was very young. Young enough that anything with a sexual connotation was interesting to me. Even really perverse deviations like this.

A collector of butterflies 'collects' a girl and holds her prisoner. His deviation is far deeper than merely sex. But of course, sex is implied all the time.

There are two sorts of kept women, those gold-diggers who actively sought it, and those trophy wives who had never planned for it and had been actively courted. This is a trophy wife by for
Always Pouting
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fredrick is a clerk and butterfly collector who wins some money that lets him retire. Fredrick is lonely and has trouble getting along with others, the only people he really has are his aunt and cousin. He watches an art student named Miranda who starts to become his obsession. When he suddenly has a lot of free time and money on his hands, his daydreams about Miranda turn dark and he plans to kidnap her and hold her hostage in the cellar of an old cottage he buys until she gets to know him and ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of those boy meets girl, chloroforms her, throws her in the back of the van and stuffs her in his basement type stories. I knew that already and so I was really not expecting to be coshed on the head and chucked down in the basement as well, and tied hands and feet, and gagged, so that all I could hear was the quiet reasonable voice of working-class loner Fred Clegg, aged 22, explaining how he’d fallen in love from afar with the unattainable art student Miranda Grey, & since he was m ...more
Dana Ilie
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel was unlike anything I’ve read before and the character of Frederick will certainly leave a lasting memory. I don’t think there’s been a character that’s made my skin crawl or forced me to talk back (shout!) at a book on so many an occasion – well done Fowles!I definitely think Book Readers should have this book on their shelf.
Impotent sociopath kidnaps beautiful art student. Told (partly) from the sociopath's perspective. That's my jam! I should have loved this book!
But something left me cold. I suppose it may have been all the bitching and complaining the beautiful art student did in her stupid diary. What a helpless twit!
Not to imply that I'd be brave and cunning or anything...if someone kidnapped me. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be a helpless twit as well. But I'll be goddamned if I'd expect anyone to enjoy readi
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel is over fifty years old (...!), and it holds up very well. It is the rudimentary skeleton that is upheld (fleshed by current events, given a brain by contemporary writers) ad nauseum by CSI, Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Medium, Criminal Minds et al.

Though its semi predictable, the end is nonetheless terribly terrific. That there are two strands of narrative is sometimes a revelation, sometimes an encumbrance (like living through a terrible ordeal not once but twice!). Both psych
Glenn Sumi
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been hard for me to focus lately – gee, I wonder why?

Over the past month, I've begun several books, lost interest, shelved them. I once imagined that if I had hours and hours to read, I'd finally get around to War and Peace or Remembrance of Things Past. Instead, I find myself studying grim news items and statistics, scrolling through memes on social media, staring blankly out my window onto empty streets and watching old black and white movies or TV shows I've missed over the past decade.
3.5 stars!

Thought by some to be the first psychological thriller, this book left me slightly wanting.

The Collector is broken into three parts. The first part is from Clegg's point of view. Clegg is a man obsessed with a young woman and decides to "collect" her, much as he collects butterflies. The second part is from the woman's point of view, once she's been "collected". This was the part that I found unsatisfying. There were some observations in this section about class, money and society wh
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bonnie by: Beverly J.
’I am one in a row of specimens. It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I’m meant to be dead, pinned, always the same, always beautiful. He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but it’s the dead me he wants. He wants me living-but-dead.’

The Collector is the story of Frederick Clegg, an extremely odd and lonely man who also collects butterflies. He’s obsessed with a middle-class art student named Miranda Grey and as he continues admiring her from a distance a plan slowly
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Oh", said a friend, taking this novel off my shelf. "This sounds like a boring topic for a story!"

She thought it was a story about collecting butterflies, as that is what the title and cover suggest. And I answered:

"It is not about that at all, and it is one of the most suspenseful and scary novels I ever read!"

But then I thought that it actually is about collecting butterflies after all. One just rarely thinks of the fact that you kill them and pierce them with a needle to be able to look at
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the first dark psychological thrillers--at least in modern times (though depending on how you categorize them, James or Poe or even some of the ancient Greeks might usefully be described this way, too). A tale of obsession and art and butterflies--need I say more? Wonderful for those who take their fiction black. What's especially interesting here is the sheer banality of Frederick's evil. He kidnaps Miranda, then doesn't really know what to do or how to relate to her as an actual person ...more
Steven Godin

So much for starting the year with a literary bang. This novel made me feel like a dud firework. I didn't find it chilling or claustrophobic. Not once was I creeped out. It did however leave me feeling rather sad, after the glum ending. What I could really do without right now. As soon as the narrative went from the perspective of the possessive kidnapper to the diary entries of the young woman held captive, I was starting to lose interest. Alright, to start off with anyway, I liked reading of h
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
That was quite an interesting piece of fiction. A collector of butterflies is obsessed with a girl and finally kidnaps her when he comes to a fortune. She desperately tries to escape her remote prison and the relationsship between those completely different characters is shown in an impressive way. There is a kind of narration by the male character and one of the female character, the victim, in form of a diary. I won't spoil the ending but this read was quite captivating. They characters in his ...more
J.A. Saare
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Other reviewers have said what I would say about The Collector. It's haunting, disturbing, and impossible to forget once you've finished. While not a typical "horror" story, it is one that probably occurs more often in the real world than not, and the person(s) involved could be a distant relative, a sibling, a son or a daughter.

Allow me to state right now that it's not an easy read. As someone who derives enjoyment from books of this nature, I was determined to remain objective from the onset.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, uk
Loved - so creepy!
A great pal of mine, who shall remain nameless, is a collector. Truly and obsessively one. His house is filled from floor to ceiling with records and CDs and other bric a brac. It's a very large, sprawling ranch with a half floor up as well as a basement. It should be a spacious and roomy abode, but when you walk in there it's like squeezing through the Fat Man's misery section of Mammoth Cave - you have to turn sideways to get through. He shares this space with a half dozen cats. It's filthy. R ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh boy what did I just read?! This was most definitely a strange sinister and creepy story. I know I wasn’t meant to sympathise with Ferdinand/Frederick/Caliban but he is such a pathetic useless character! Beyond the obvious depraved strangeness of the whole scenario he had no backbone! Nothing going for him. So he wasn’t a complete monster, he seemed to have some qualities that you could call human but it was a such a weird situation and my thoughts changed throughout, between pity and rage, ba ...more
Johann (jobis89)
“I think we are just insects, we live a bit and then die and that’s the lot. There’s no mercy in things. There’s not even a Great Beyond. There’s nothing.”

Is there anything more frustrating for a bookworm than a book which starts out so strongly and with so much promise, and then simply goes a little flat in the second half?

When a book is being lauded as some kind of bible for a number of murderers and serial killers, then of course it will attract my attention. The Collector follows a butterfly
Richard Derus
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Real Rating: 3.5* of five

A truly disquieting read that has left me a little leery of reading Fowles. It was a dark and stormy day in Austin, Texas, in 1984. I was traveling to San Marcos to go to Southwest Texas State University. This book deeply unsettled me, left me trying to comprehend what the heck I was experiencing.

What a great way to get a 20-something passionate reader to buy all your books!

Now, reading never quite happened at that moment. This was the oldest book of hi
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Psychological thrillers of more recent times, like Descent and Intensity probably found their roots with the dark character study in books like THE COLLECTOR. I thought this was just a brilliant novel by John Fowles. Very unsettling, and very chilling, with enough plot twists to keep you guessing. Highly recommended. ...more
It's hard to believe that after so many novels and films about sociopathic kidnappers, I would still be shocked by a book written in the early 60s. The Collector is a traumatizing novel about a guy who kidnaps a young woman, although Clegg is not your typical kidnapper and Miranda is by no means your typical kidnapee. What really makes it exceptional is the uniqueness of the two characters and how this shows through the alternating narratives. It soon becomes clear that neither of them is totall ...more

Frederick Clegg is a simple man who led a lonely life. Working as a town clerk, Frederick tries to make friends, but his oddities prevent any real connections. Self-conscience about his social class and education, Frederick believes his luck will change now that he’s won the pools. With his winnings, he finds the monetary means and fortification to execute his dream of securing a companion – a beautiful young woman he’s admired for years, but rather than woo her, Frederick plans her capture.

Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
An adept stalker is keeping you up to date with his observations. An amateur lepidopterist, he is now on the hunt for a completely different species. And make no mistake, he is acutely methodical about putting down the evolution of his fixation.

Let us call him Fred.
Fred's father, a travelling salesman, died on the road when he was 2.
His mother went off shortly after her husband died, leaving Fred to his uncle and aunt.
In turn, Uncle Dick died when F.C. was 15 y.o. From now on, he is taken care o
Clumsy Storyteller
Oct 31, 2016 marked it as to-read
i have watched the movie long time ago,The ending was so sad it made me hate everything about it, but still i found it a very interesting story packed with drama and action! :D and i'll read the book soon.

Emily B
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a little weird and slightly uncomfortable but throughly entertaining and memorable.
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I bought this book at some point, I don't remember buying it.

It kept falling off of the pile of mass-market books I have precariously piled up in front of some other books on one of my bookshelves.

After maybe the hundredth time picking this book up and putting it back on the top of that pile I thought, maybe I should just read it instead of just picking it up ever couple of weeks.

The particular edition I read was the third Dell printing, from May 1965. I don't know if the book had the same co
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

2.5 Stars

The Collector is the story of a man named Frederick – a bit of an odd duck and a collector of butterflies – who, upon winning a rather large pool of money, decides to collect and observe a new specimen – the lovely Miranda.

Here’s yet another book that’s been on my TBR for an eternity that I never bothered to read. I have, however, read/watched many of the stories that were inspired by this 60+ year old tale and I’m sure m
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
This is a tale of a man who kidnaps a girl by conning her into the back of his van. Then he keeps her in his basement. Oh, and he collects butterflies. And he's completely insane. Sound familiar?

Why did everyone forget to mention this terrifying 1963 novel when they were praising Thomas Harris up and down? This time, though, you get the story from the Buffalo Bill-esque character's eyes AND from the Cathryn Martin-victim-boohoo perspective. Only the dude's not trans. Nor does he aspire to be. An
That ending gave me chills. A deeply unsettling (but very good!) read.
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Reading 1001: The Collector - John Fowles 3 23 Mar 31, 2020 02:06PM  
Letras Macabras: El coleccionista, de John Fowles 16 70 Oct 30, 2018 05:32AM  
Play Book Tag: The Collector/Fowles - 5 stars 11 42 Jun 18, 2018 06:02PM  
The Collector by John Fowles 3 63 Jul 24, 2017 01:02PM  

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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 attendi

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