0129 | The Magus – John Fowles

Context: Read often with a bit of nourishment at Wycliffe.

REVIEW
When Arukiyomi was a mere early teen, he read The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Didn’t understand it much but liked the story. Decades later, he’s read The Magus by the same author simply because it’s on the 1001 books list and he found it pretty cheap in a charity shop.

Glad he did. Actually, it was a very strange experience to read this book at the moment. It’s one of those moments in your literary life when there’s an eerie reflection of your present reality in fiction. Let me tell you more…

I’m currently on a long training course that is nearing its end. It’s been an introduction not just to many subjects that I’ve not learned of before but, more than that, a whole new way of life. It’s been profound and, if that profundity can be extended to every experience I’ve had on the course, profoundly challenging.

The challenge has come to my ways not only of thinking but of being. I know they sound the same but they’re not. Being imparts thinking which in turn can (not always though) lead to an impact on being. I feel that while I’ve changed in the past, this is more like being changed in it’s most passive sense.

This has been refreshing because I’m becoming more like I’d like to be. But at the same time it’s deeply unsettling. What has this all to do with The Magus I hear you cry in desperation? Well, a lot…

The book is about a young man who runs away from a tangled personal relationship to work for none other than the British Council at a school in Greece. I sympathised with the guy right there. Anyone working for the BC gets solace from me.

But while he’s in Greece, he stumbles on the home of a millionaire who befriends him and introduces him to new ways of thinking and encourages him to start to open himself up to alternatives he’d never before entertained.

I won’t go further because I’ll give stuff away but it twists and turns like a dying python as the young man spirals into a freefall where every semblance of reality fades and he starts to question his own sanity as well as those around him. And just when you think it’s all over, off it spirals again. At times recently, I’ve felt the same. Unlike the young man though, I trust the One I’m in the hands of and that helps immensely.

The Magus is a top quality psychological suspense novel and deserves a wider appeal. It’s over 600 pages but it’s a page-turner as you desperately want to find out what’s going to happen. It makes you think a great deal about who you are, who you think you are, and the person you’ll probably never realise you are.

FIRST LINE
I was born in 1927, the only child of middle-class parents, both English, and themselves born in the grotesquely elongated shadow which they never rose sufficiently above history to leave, of that monstrous dwarf Queen Victoria.

QUOTES

one must be grateful for the smallest grain of humour from the Germans. I should not like the responsibility of destroying such a rare plant.

[of air hostesses]… hard, trim, professionally pretty, the shallow unreality of characters from science fiction.

CLOSING LINE
And somewhere the stinging smell of burning leaves.

RATING
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  • Marion Greene April 29, 2009, 2:05 am

    The Magus is one of my all time favourite books. I spent some time on Spetses which is the island in Greece that the main protaganist goes to and wherever I went I was haunted by the story and the characters. I haven’t reread it because I am worried that I might not feel the same about it second time around and I don’t want to spoli the feeling I came away with.

    Reply

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