Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Book Revisited: The Magus


A Book Revisited is an on/off weekend series hosted here. If you'd like to join the meme, just grab the image above and post about a book you've read in the past that (as far as you know) has had zero or little mention in the book blogosphere. It must be a book you enjoyed and recommend. I understand that it's sometimes not possible to remember everything about a book you've read years ago so just write a brief post and leave a link in the comment section below.


The Magus by John Fowles is one of my favourite novels though I know it's a book that people either love or hate. If you didn't like it please comment anyway, as I'd love to hear why. John Fowles is a brilliant and award winning British writer who strangely enough hardly gets mentioned in book blogs. 

The Magus is about a young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, who accepts a teaching position on a beautiful but isolated Greek island to escape a doomed love affair. There he befriends Conchis, an eccentric local millionaire who starts to tell him the story of his life. Before long, Nicholas spends every weekend at Conchis' home where strange things start to happen. This is a brilliantly atmospheric book that takes you on a wild ride. Here are some quotes:

"It is not only species of animal that die out, but whole species of feeling. And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did." 

"Girls, or a certain kind of girl, liked me; I had a car - not so common among undergraduates in those days - and I had some money. I wasn't ugly; and even more important, I had my loneliness, which, as every cad knows, is a deadly weapon with women."

"The craving to risk death is our last great perversion. We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?" 

8 comments:

  1. I have read the Magus three times. I am not kidding. I was obsessed with it and my friends and I at university used to try to work out what it was about. I still don't really know. I agree about the atmosphere, it really transports you and I still can't believe I didn't get straight on a plane to Greece as a result. I also agree with you about John Fowles (he died a couple of years ago didn't he?) I love all his work.

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  2. I love that picture of Audrey Hepburn and this sounds like fun, some of my favourite books aren't that well known either.

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  3. I have to admit I don't think I've ever heard of this book. I have added it to my wish list after reading the reviews on amazon.

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  4. I have this book but haven't read it yet. I picked it up at last year's book fair because I was both attracted and repelled by the book jacket. Perhaps I should toss the jacket and read the book. Didn't Fowles write "The Collector" as well. I read and liked that one over 20 years ago. We'll see.

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  5. I have a really nice old copy of this book, but have never read it. NOw I want to.

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  6. I haven't read this, but you've intrigued me such that I want to! Thanks!

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  7. Great blog! I am visiting from the Hop.

    I read this book last year as part of my quest to read the Modern Library's Top 100....and I just didn't get it. Although as time goes on, I am reading books on the list that I like LESS than The Magus, so I wonder if it was really all that bad. Sad that I thought of this book while I was seeing Inception this weekend.

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  8. Although it is possible - I would say necessary - to read this extraordinary novel more the once, there are few literary pleasures in life than reading it for the first time. I actually envy those who have not yet read it but are planning to. Fe books can be viewed in this way because this has everything: it is work of philosophy, political analysis, mystery, love, sex and spirituality. It is well-writen and clever without ever being over-bearing.

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