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A Maggot

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  2,495 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
In this magnificent and compelling novel, bestselling author John Fowles has created a dazzlingly erotic tale of obsession and desire, madness and murder. Four men and one woman, all traveling under assumed names, are crossing the Devonshire countryside on their way toward a mysterious rendezvous in the spring of 1736. But nothing is as it seems. Before their violent and e ...more
Paperback, 455 pages
Published July 14th 1998 by Back Bay Books (first published 1985)
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mark monday
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: into-the-past
i tried reading this when i was 15, i think around the time it first came out. perhaps i was too ambitious, because the novel was too much for me, and i gave up. i suppose i just didn't get it. but i can be competitive - even with books, even with myself. so i promised young mark monday that the battle wasn't over, that i'd return to re-engage 25 years later, when i had become an old, wise man...and i would eventually conquer this one.

well, mark, it is now 25 years later.


...and so i p
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20-ce, uk, fiction
Dazzling. Stunning. The best I've read of him.
On second reading, the novel holds up remarkably well. It seems at first a study in the perpetuation of literary suspense. The book jumps between third-person narration; a kind of mock-legal deposition which permits multiple narrative voices; essayistic asides, and epistolary elements. The third-person voice often refers to the gap between events at the time of the story--the 1730s--and our present day. For example: "Closer,...groups of children nois
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
_A Maggot_ is an interesting novel. It can be approached as an historical mystery, a meta-fictional experiment of mixed narrative form and genre, and a meditation on the injustices inherent in the 18th century social, political and religious mindset. The story proper details a mysterious journey undertaken by five individuals across the English landscape whose destination and purpose is unknown. In addition to this each of the individuals is not what they appear, and may not even be what they th ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Apparently, A Maggot was the result of two dicisive factors. The one was the clear, yet uninvited image that once popped into Fowles' mind, of a group of people travelling on horseback in the middle of nowhere, as he informs us in the prologue. The other one was his admiration for Ann Lee, the founder of a strict yet especially alternative religious group, the Shakers. Although an atheist, Fowles had enough clarity to discern the wisdom behind their religious practices and acknowledge the necess ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beklenmedik bir kurgu, her sayfada "acaba ne olacak" düşüncesiyle okuduğum olaylar. Fowles bu defa farklı bir konuyu, son ana kadar ne olacağını tahmin edemeyeceğiniz bir yaklaşımla işlemiş.

Kurgusu her zamanki gibi olayların devamını okura bırakır nitelikte sayılsa da sonsöze yazdıkları üzerine biraz araştırma yapınca tatmin edici bir sonuca ulaşacaksınız.

Fowles'e farklı bir açıdan bakmamı sağlayan bir kitaptı. Çok keyifliydi!

Bir polisiye, sorgu gibi görünse de bitirdiğimde anlatılanın başka
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I wrote this review a few years ago. I just moved to a new apartment, and while I rearranged my books in the perfect order, I came across my copy of A Maggot and remembered this, so I shall copy and paste:


My previous experience reading the work of John Fowles is sporadic but rather steady: while taking a “Literature of the Occult” class in college, The Magus was required reading and sometime last winter I made it through The Collector (recommended to me by Maxim magazine, of
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone

The make-believe history is a well-known trick of the postmodernist literature. Here we have a celebrated criminal in Margaret Atwood’s “Alias Grace”, a famous gangster in Mircea Mihaes’ “Woman in Red”, a brought to life portrait in Tracy Chevalier’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, and in all these novels and others reality and fiction are blended beyond recognition, to create literature’s second reality. A sort of non-fiction novels, to borrow Truman Capote’s very deceptive term.

However, whether t
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A shaggy dog story. John Fowles' prologue tells us the book began with an image of travellers on horseback. For years, though finding this image striking, he was prevented from doing anything with it because he didn't know who the travellers were or where they were going. Then he worked out a way of writing a book anyway without knowing this.

It's eighteenth-century England and the travellers are journeying through the countryside for some hidden purpose. Then this purpose is accomplished. We st
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Bookish
I found this book to be very strange. At the end of the book, there is an author's note, wherein Fowles describes what he was trying to accomplish when writing the novel. Instead of the note providing an illuminating experience, I found myself scratching my head even more, because I didn't really buy into Fowles attempt to get to B from A.

I found the first half of the book to be pretty interesting, but the second half - not so much. The book is a murder mystery and what happened in relation to t
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A Maggot: Another masterpiece from the intimidating mind of John Fowles. In this twisting mystery set in the early 18th century, Fowles is up to his old tricks with his magnificent cerebral teasing. A small group of travellers are on a very mysterious journey that will dance with life, death and madness - and where nothing is what it seems. It feels a playful old yarn until Fowles pulls the rug from under you, and we become deeply engaged with what, in modern times, would be termed a police inve ...more
Opening: A maggot is the larval stage of a winged creature; as is the written text, at least in the writer's hope.

In here is a character called Dorcas and for those of us who have watched and/or read Lark Rise to Candleford the phrase "what would Dorcas Lane do?" Is enough to send one to hide behind the curtains of a kidney shaped dressing table to start pulling out tresses by the mit full.

The 3 star is a hattip to the authorial skill, however the caveat is that I did not care for this tale - it
Aug 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mi aspettavo tanto da questo libro! L'inizio e' interessante e veloce, poi mano a mano si perde.Alla fine e' quasi noioso.
Once again Fowles has written a superb story that combines so many different aspects and genres I don't really know where to begin. Fowles starts with an image of 5 riders, unnamed and mysterious, then one turns up dead and another vanishes. So begins the investigation into those May events, told through Q & A sessions with witnesses, letters from the investigator to the judge and newspaper articles following the investigation. Don't expect to have your questions answered though as Fowles le ...more
This is my 3rd John Fowles book, and I never fail to find him interesting. He seems to like to take well-trodden genres (Victorian romance in The French Lieutenant's Woman, historical who-done-it here), lull you into a sense of familiar normalcy, before blasting you with a cold bucket of meta-fictiony post-modernism. This time I was ready for it, and for the most part enjoyed the ride. I suspected that this book wasn't at all what it was pretending to be, and tried to read between the lines. Her ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A magistrate's inquest, in the form of a discourse and dialogue, into a possible murder and a suicide, is the setting for an imaginative novel about the mother of Ann Lee, the founder of the Shaker sect. Written in archaic 18th c. English, Fowles proves he has a fine ear and feeling for the language; the story maintains suspense and drama throughout, as well as giving the spirit of Christian dissent in the very rigid and harsh English society. His last novel, and possibly the testament of his be ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a really tough book for me to review, because I am not quite sure that I got it. Or if the point of the book was that you were not supposed to get it. It starts out straight forward enough and enjoyably as a historical mystery novel. We know that the characters are not as they appear, and that there will be truths unveiled as we go along. We know there is a murder, and a disappearance, but then -what? This book sucks me in without ever satisfying my curiosity, and then goes off into some ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think this has to be one of my favorite books. What this book spoke to me was far beyond a sci-fi story: to me it dealt with topics like equality between genders and races (the feeling you get while reading the book is just how unfair people were treated according to gender and wealth and just how bedazzeled the lawyer is when the woman describes her journey in the utopian world/heaven? where everyone is equal.). I was very much amused at how people disregarded the book as a mediocre attempt a ...more
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Very strange and contrived. Unsatisfying ending.
Aug 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
At first I thought the maggot was something figurative, then a woman's testimony told me it was something real. The whole time I read this book, I was attempting to discover what it was really about, but all I concluded is that it's a good bed time book; which means I fell asleep shortly after nearly every time I tried reading it. I did not want to leave it unfinished because I loved the first book I read by Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman, so I kept truckin'. It is not a good book, althou ...more
Mark Joyce
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
A frustrating and ultimately annoying book. I found it gripping until about four fifths of the way in (hence the slightly grudgingly awarded three stars), at which point it disappeared up its own post-modernist arse and morphed into a tedious dialectic on the themes of selfhood, gender and some bollocks about the holy trinity. Without wishing to give anything away it seems the full appreciation of A Maggot rests on having at least a passing affinity with the theology and practices of the Shakers ...more
Octavio Solis
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I'll amend my review at a more convenient time, but this work dug its maggot deeply into me. Fine and infuriating novel.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the bare bones, this is a historical crime story, following the investigation of a wayward son's disappearance, and with the case turning increasingly toward matters of religion, gender, theology and ethics as new details emerge. But Fowles makes it much richer than even that.

For one, his format, with most of the plot delivered as a series of interrogations, pages and pages of questions and answers delivered of witnesses and suspects. A few key scenes are narrated from the viewpoint of a 20t
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Fowles... oh, you do the strangest, most delightful things to my head.

I do so love that every time I read you, I find myself reflecting on the very act of reading itself. And, the very act of sharing a story across time and distance. And, the very notion of what it is to be a thinking, human creature in communion with other thinking, human creatures.

You are simply one of my most favorites, and your works have made me a more wonder-filled, questing, and alive person. The part of you that is
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
John Fowles... oh, you do the strangest, most delightful things to my head.

I do so love that every time I read you, I find myself reflecting on the very act of reading itself. And, the very act of sharing a story across time and distance. And, the very notion of what it is to be a thinking, human creature in communion with other thinking, human creatures.

You are simply one of my most favorites, and your works have made me a more wonder-filled, questing, and alive person. The part of you that is
Ema Winter
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesanta ca si abordare scriitoriceasca in stil postmodern, Omida poate sa para plictisitoare cititorului de roman pur narativ. Juxtapunerea planurilor si alternanta de fapt divers, povestire, decupaj de ziar, scrisoare dau cartii un farmec aparte. Tendinta postmodernilor e de a crea autenticitate intr-un stil diferit de cel al modernilor, spre exemplu, care o ofereau prin expunerea faptelor; scriitorii postmoderni arunca pe foaie tot ce poate da veridicitate faptelor, un decupaj imens care c ...more
Slavik Fokin
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I tried reading this novel 12 years ago. I read about 100 pages and gave up because nothing was happening and it was completely unclear what it was all about.

12 years later I decided to give it another chance after reading Maggus and Collector, which I highly appreciated. I read it till the end, although it wasn't easy: the book often seemed boring and overlong. But the main problem did not disappear: it was still unclear what it was all about until I reached the epilogue. And even after I lear
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
The narrative was compelling and had me hooked for half the book. Events were intriguing, but ultimately the end wasn't satisfying because we couldn't really be sure what had happened due to different versions of the story being told. I would love to have discovered more about the characters, about Dick and his relationship with his master.
Jonathan Goslan
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Keep going, just keep on going til the most shocking and rewarding ending...
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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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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