The Magus

The Magus

Book - 1978
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A man trapped in a millionare's deadly game of political and sexual betrayal. Filled with shocks and chilling surprises, "The Magus" is a masterwork of contemporary literature. In it, a young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, accepts a teaching position on a Greek island where his friendship with the owner of the islands most magnificent estate leads him into a nightmare. As reality and fantasy are deliberately confused by staged deaths, erotic encounters, and terrifying violence, Urfe becomes a desperate man fighting for his sanity and his life. A work rich with symbols, conundrums and labrinthine twists of event, "The Magus" is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining, a work that ranks with the best novels of modern times.
Publisher: Boston : Little, Brown, 1978, c1977.
Edition: Rev. ed.
ISBN: 9780316290920
0316290920
Characteristics: 656 p. ;,25 cm.

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lukasevansherman
May 09, 2020

1965 novel by the somewhat overlooked British writer John Fowles, who also wrote "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and "The Collector." This is the revised 1977 edition. One of the commentators calls this a book for younger readers (not kids, obvs), which I'm not sure I agree with. I'm 46 and quite enjoyed it. Yes, some of the descriptions of sex, sexuality, and women may have not aged terrible well, but it hardly invalidates the power and imagination of this novel, about a rather aimless British man who ends up teaching on a Greek island. The Modern Library put in on their best books of the 20th century list.

k
kwsmith
May 03, 2020

While working on an isolated Greek island, a self-absorbed Englishman named Nicholas Urfe befriends Maurice Conchis, a peculiar old millionaire who claims to possess mysterious psychic powers. Their unlikely friendship eventually evolves into a deadly psychological game of erotic illusions which causes Nicholas to question his beliefs, and eventually his own sanity. Fowles' artistic prose is excellent and his skillful manipulation of ancient symbolism only adds to the intellectual drama in this classic 1960's era smart psychological thriller. The book is layered with many clever meanings, but at its core there is a story about how Nicholas must grow from being a self-absorbed wandering playboy into a mature man who accepts the messy complications of a grown-up world.

r
RabbitHollow
Nov 29, 2018

This revised edition of The Magus is not the original work by John Fowles. The author apparently solicited ideas from readers in order to embellish his original work. He published a much larger revised version of the original book which contains more florid descriptive passages, and also some new material not in the original. Sadly, the added material is almost all a rather pornographic account of the main character's sex life, which adds nothing to the original theme of the book. John Fowles fans will remember The Collector and its moderately successful film version from the '50's and of course the French Lieutenant's Woman. This author has good ideas, but doesn't have the skill to do them justice on paper. The forward to the Magus will confirm the author's timidity about the work in either its past or present versions. I've always disliked "The making of..." sections of books or films and really don't see how a behind the scenes narrative improves the finished work. An even more painful example of muddled thinking on the part of the author is his published "diary" or writer's workbook, which should have remained under his pillow, along with this pointlessly pornographic group-inspired revision.

j
joliebergman
Mar 25, 2015

I really enjoyed the first quarter of the book. It was fast, fun, dark, and exciting. By around page 200 things became a little too ridiculous, absurd (in a bad way), and sluggish for me. A month later I finally made it to about page 500 and that’s when I just skipped to the last three paragraphs of the book and called it done. I had suspected where things were going (if you can call it that) little over halfway through. I confirmed that suspicion in the last three paragraphs.

I conducted a little research afterwards and found that I share at least one exact complaint with this novel as many others who did not like the book. That is, simply: I was too old to appreciate this nonsense. Praise for the book seems to come from those who first read this book in their late teens through the 20s. Whereas the older the reader, the more likely they are to dislike it. I found *that* more interesting than great portions of the book. Not only was the story line boring, wayward, and incomplete it was also very dated. Dated though it was, I still tried to take it all into context and failed miserably. Views on relationships, women, homosexuals, psychology, and interpersonal communication felt like it was culled from a right-wing religious pamphlet or something you would hear late night on FOX news. That all said, the writing is phenomenal – the visuals stunning, beautiful. It’s the storyline I had a problem with. Placing this in the Never Again pile.

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santiano9
Aug 07, 2011

Recommended in connection with a list of best southern books.

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