John Fowles (Modern Novelists)
Palgrave Macmillan (August 15, 1998)
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John Fowles has the distinction of being both a best-selling novelist and one whose work has earned the respect of academic critics. In this clear and concise book, James Acheson traces the development of Fowles' novels from The Collector, The Magus
and The French Lieutenant's Woman,
each concerned with the quest for self-knowledge, through to The Ebony Tower
and Daniel Martin.
He shows how the sexual element of Fowles' early novels is interwoven with the author's interest in French existentialism as, in his first three works of fiction, Fowles' main characters are obliged not only to struggle with sexual issues but to choose between living a life of humdrum conventionality, on the one hand, or seeking to discover a sense of their own authenticity on the other. By the 1970s, however, Fowles' interest in existentialism had begun to wane, his disillusionment taking different forms in The Ebony Tower,
a collection of short stories, and in Daniel Martin,
the novel that followed it. In A Maggot,
his most recent work of fiction, he abandons existentialism in favor of a more generalized philosophical issue--the limits of human knowledge.