The Magus

The Magus

A Revised Version

Book - 2001
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Widely considered John Fowles's masterpiece, The Magus is "a dynamo of suspense and horror...a dizzying, electrifying chase through the labyrinth of the soul....Read it in one sitting if possible-but read it" ( New York Times ).
A young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, accepts a teaching post on a remote Greek island in order to escape an unsatisfactory love affair. There, his friendship with a reclusive millionaire evolves into a mysterious--and deadly--game of violence, seduction, and betrayal. As he is drawn deeper into the trickster's psychological traps, Nicholas finds it increasingly difficult to distinguish past from present, fantasy from reality. He becomes a desperate man fighting for his sanity and his very survival.
John Fowles expertly unfolds a spellbinding exploration of the complexities of the human mind. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a masterwork of contemporary literature.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2001, c1977.
Edition: Revised edition, first Back Bay pbk. edition
ISBN: 9780316296199
Characteristics: 656 pages


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Antaeus Mar 22, 2021

While definitely a book of a certain time (early 60s) and reflecting a certain intellectual moment (early Postmodernism, existential fiction) and a somewhat primitive "feminism" but it still has relevance and meaning for a modern audience. The central concept is still intriguing and Fowles was able to fuse popular novel forms (mystery, thriller) with sophisticated philosophical and literary ideas.

Sep 15, 2020

Great book! If you can find it, read the 1st edition - it's slightly shorter, and the ending is different.The original ending fits the rest of the novel better than the revision.
As far as other commenters concerns go, I don't consider this an adolescent book at all, and the added sex descriptions in the revision are laughably mild in the 21st century. I'd also add that if you are going to review a book, it helps to read the entire book, rather than to skip to the ending and think you've read the book.
If this edition is all you can find, no matter, read away. It's an very entertaining novel.

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.

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.

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, which he felt was still incomplete. Thus, this later work is a much larger version of the original. The revision contains a few over-worked descriptive passages, where nothing further was originally required. Sadly, the added material consists of enhanced pornographic accounts of the main character's sex life, which adds absolutely 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. A work of art, music or literature must stand on its own. 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.

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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Aug 07, 2011

Recommended in connection with a list of best southern books.

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