Wednesday, November 09, 2005

John Fowles Dead at 79

Wow! Two literary posts in a row!

John Fowles, a British novelist who wrote The French Lieutenant's Woman (which was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons) died November 7 after being in ill health since suffering a stroke in the late 1980s.

Fowles is classified as a "postmodernist", which I think a lot of people associate with being pretentious and empty, but his novels are an interesting combination of heaviness and fun. "The French Lieutenant's Woman" had a very somber story at its core, but the author gives the reader the choice of two alternative endings---you can have a happy ending, if you prefer. "The Magus" was another novel of Fowles' that I read, and that was one of the weirdest, most confusing stories I've ever read. A young Englishman takes a teaching job on a Greek island, where he becomes acquainted with the rich old man who owns the island. This "mentor" of sorts leads the young man through a bizarre series of experiences involving faked deaths, pagan rituals, and perhaps magic. I found it enjoyably weird.

His last major work was "A Maggot" set in 18th century England, as weird as the other two, I gather (I haven't read it).


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