Tuesday, November 08, 2005

John Fowles, 1926-2005

Author of The Collector, 1963; The Magus, 1965; The French Lieutenant's Woman, 1969; and other works. May he rest in peace.

Several quotes from his obituary in today's New York Times:

" 'I know I have a reputation as a cantankerous man of letters, and I don't try to play it down,' he told The Guardian newspaper in 2003."

" 'No one in my family had any literary interests or skills at all,' he once said, 'When I was a young boy my parents were always laughing at "the fellow who couldn't draw"--Picasso. Their crassness horrified me.' "

"He recoiled from his role as head boy at Bedford School, his prep school. 'By the age of 18, I had dominion over 600 boys, and learned all about power, hierarchy and the manipulation of law,' he wrote. 'Ever since I have had a violent hatred of leaders, organizers, bosses; of anyone who thinks it good to get or have arbitrary power over other people.' "

"He once told an interviewer that he had received a sweet letter from a cancer patient in New York who wanted very much to believe that Nicholas, the protagonist of The Magus, was reunited with his girlfriend at the end of the book - a point Mr. Fowles had deliberately left ambiguous. 'Yes, of course they were,' Mr. Fowles replied.' "

"By chance, he had received a letter the same day from an irate reader taking issue with the ending of The Magus. 'Why can't you say what you mean, and for God's sake, what happened in the end?' the reader asked. Mr. Fowles said he found the letter 'horrid' but had the last laugh, supplying an alternative ending to punish the correspondent: 'They never saw each other again.'"

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