Lit in the Time of Coronavirus: Fowles

Manuscripts, Print, and All Manner of Books — folksaga: I made ...

Hello everyone! I’m back, having survived the majority of my essays and finals. To celebrate, I’m planning on doing a special post soon where I review three long and great books for your enjoyment.

To give myself time to read these great books, I’m going to be reviewing only one book for the next few posts. This should only last a short while, and then I’ll go back to reviewing three books per week.

In the meantime, here’s this week’s book:

The Collector, John Fowles

John Fowles

“He said, it’s rather like your voice. You put up with your voice and speak with it because you haven’t any choice. But it’s what you say that counts [….] He said, critics spiel away about superb technical accomplishment. Absolutely meaningless, that sort of jargon. Art’s cruel. You can get away with murder with words. But a picture is like a window straight through to your inmost heart. And all you’ve done here is build a lot of little windows on to a heart full of other fashionable artists’ paintings.”

The first half of this book is about a man who used to collect butterflies by stalking and kidnapping them. Now, he stalks and kidnaps a young art student. He keeps her captive in the basement of a cottage he bought, but doesn’t do much with her other than have conversations.

The second half of this book is told from the student’s perspective in epistolary form. It retells the kidnapping, but also explores her backstory.

The rest of the book is what happens afterwards.

I thought this was a very good book. It took what could have been told in an extremely cliché way (“Oh no she’s been captured!” etc.) and gave it a more original spin (which I won’t reveal here). I think the book is so good because Fowles put a lot of thought into it. Rather than just writing at a surface-level, he went on to consider the implications his story could have. For that reason, the book managed to go deeper than most books dealing with the same topic. Also, The Collector was not just about a kidnapping. There were reflections on art, humanity, and British politics as well.

This book had a really self-assured tone, which was a welcome relief. So many books seem to be written in a style as if their writers are trying to prove they’re worthy of being called writers. Fowles didn’t come across like he was trying to do anything other than to tell his story and explore its ideas. Funnily enough, I felt like he wound up proving himself by not worrying about proving himself at all.

Of course, there are some things I wished the book did better. Some of its implications weren’t fully explored, and some parts felt cheesy, but those qualms were nothing in the face of how good it was.

In short, I would recommend it.

Books Aesthetic Gif - Books Library

I wish you the best of health and hope. It’s very tough, but as cheesy as it sounds, we can do it.

Until next time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s