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The Collector (Back Bay Books) Paperback – August 4, 1997

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Product Details

  • Series: Back Bay Books
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (August 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316290238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316290234
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fowles launched his career with The Collector, which was welcomed with great critical enthusiasm, including that of LJ's reviewer, who found it "a distinguished first novel" (LJ 8/63). Mantissa, on the other hand, was a departure from the author's more popular material and received only a marginal response (LJ 9/1/82).
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"... fine psychological thriller... enthralling... an evening of compelling nastiness." Daily Telegraph" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

I thourougly recommend this as a good read.
K. Newsome
The Collector is the story of Frederick Clegg, an extremely odd and lonely man who also collects butterflies.
Miss Bonnie
Characters personalities are so well written they have a life of their own.
Stefan Medeiros

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Kazza on December 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
With the exception of Nabokov's Lolita, this is the best book I have ever read. From the very moment I laid my hands on it I could not put it down and I have re-read it many times since. The premise is as such: a clerk (Frederick Clegg) becomes obsessed with a pretty art student (Miranda Grey) and holds her captive in his basement. Half of the story is told from Clegg's point of view in a recollective style, whilst the rest (the middle section) is relayed through Miranda's diary. The obvious differences in their views on life and the impossibility of them ever reaching a common ground is what grips you. Brilliant characterization and a brilliant study of human behaviour. Many people have suggested that The Magus was Fowle's best work, but The Collector puts it in the shade. Compelling.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By L. Quido VINE VOICE on March 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Much time has passed since John Fowles, now a major international author, first wrote and published "The Collector", in 1963. In many ways, it was the prequel to a myriad of psychological thrillers (by other writers) involving obsession. Fowles, an enormous success based on this, his first novel, has gone on to a distinguished career and writing that is far more complex and layered than what we encounter here.

That said, reading "The Collector", one cannot help but be impressed at how Fowles sets the story, and how the point of view of the reader is rather voyeuristic -- we see the entire plot by reading the journals of the two protagonists, peering into a series of events they share by contrasting point of view.

Fowles leads us into the story through the eyes of Ferdinand Clegg, a clerk who wins a sum of money in "the pools". He sends his odd relatives off on a global jaunt, and uses the bulk of the money to buy a lonely cottage with a cellar that he turns into a secure prison of sorts. The object of his attention is a young and vibrant art student named Miranda. All his life Clegg (or Caliban, as Miranda dubs him) has collected butterflies. He now means to use his skills as a hunter, curator and collector, to possess Miranda, whom he has been stalking for several months.

In the plotting that is Clegg's, Fowles is remarkably detached from the world, helping his readers see it from the slightly oppressed viewpoint of the British middle class; only Clegg has thoughts and needs suppressed for many years, that are frightening in their focused simplicity. Of the capture of Miranda, Clegg relates:

"It finally ten days later happened as it sometimes does with butterflies.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Dudley on June 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Collector was John Fowles's first published novel. It is the tale of a misunderstood nerd named Fred Clegg, a clerk and butterfly collector who wins a substantial sum of money, and Miranda, the beautiful young art student he becomes obsessed with. The first section of the book is written from Fred's point of view, and you get a good view inside the mind of the insane as he makes it seem reasonable, almost inevitable, when he kidnaps her and keeps her prisoner in his hidden basement. Even though it is obvious that he is mad, the reader can't help but feel some sympathy for him, even as he deteriorates into his criminal acts.

The suspense of the novel is very well done, and from the beginning, it's hard to put the book down. Fred tells Miranda his name is Ferdinand, because he thinks the name sounds more sophisticated and exotic. So we have Ferdinand and Miranda. Get it? We got it. Evidently, so did Miranda, because in the second section of the novel we get her point of view, and she refers to him as Caliban in the journal she keeps during her captivity.

Much is made of the class difference between the two in their own point of view narratives. Fred kidnaps Miranda because he doesn't have a chance with girls of her type, and in her captivity, she comes to know him, and they have a strange relationship of jailer and prisoner, tormentor and victim. As she comes to know him, she finds herself almost seeking his company as the only human being she has seen since he took her. But she is still held prisoner, as much a part of his collection as the butterflies pinned to his display trays.

The pacing of the book is so quick, it was over before I knew it.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By jon altman on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
when i finished reading 'THE COLLECTOR', i threw the book across the room in frustration and disgust. such is the power of john fowles, luring the reader deeper and deeper into a world of twisted fantasy which is portrayed in a terrifyingly realistic fashion. the book centres around two characters, fred clegg, a quietly insane and lonely man who loves to collect butterflies (hence the name of the book - a strong metaphor), and miranda, a girl that he imprisons in his house so that she can know and love him. clegg feels disadvantaged in many ways, and so takes out all his feelings of rejection and inadequacy on his unfortunate prisoner. i have read some reviews that suggest that the book should not have been divided into sections - miranda's and clegg's - and on this point i would have to entirely disagree. the juxtapositioning of the two points of view is the very essence of the story, showing the two sides of human life: on miranda's part, her passion for life and discovery, for learning and making a difference; and clegg's, showing his selfishness, rigidness and desire to own or kill everything that shows vibrance and emotion, everything he is not. this was fowles' intention, to show us that we all have both good and evil inside us,that mirnada was not entirely perfect and clegg was not entirely evil, but that the evil in clegg eventually overcame miranda's good. this book is a dire warning to human kind to embrace life and see that we have opportunities outside what we are given, that we always have the option of free a way, clegg was more trapped than miranda: her in body, but him in spirit.
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