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The Magus Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1985

361 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A major work of mounting tensions in which the human mind is the guinea-pig... Mr Fowles has taken a big swing at a difficult subject and his hits are on the bull's eye" Sunday Telegraph "A deliciously toothsome celebration of wanton story-telling" Sunday Times "A splendidly sustained piece of mystification" Financial Times "One of those that's best read as a teenager, but once read you'll never forget it" -- Katy Guest The Independent "Suspend disbelief and enjoy a master storyteller" -- Christie Hickman Sunday Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

"A man trapped in a millionare's deadly game of political and sexual betrayal.

Filled with shocks and chilling surprises, The Magus is a masterwork of contemporary literature. In it, a young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, accepts a teaching position on a Greek island where his friendship with the owner of the islands most magnificent estate leads him into a nightmare. As reality and fantasy are deliberately confused by staged deaths, erotic encounters, and terrifying violence, Urfe becomes a desperate man fighting for his sanity and his life. A work rich with symbols, conundrums and labrinthine twists of event, The Magus is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining, a work that ranks with the best novels of modern times.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Rev Rei edition (April 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440351626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440351627
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (361 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

213 of 221 people found the following review helpful By Sean Rogan on May 12, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was just looking over the reviews of this book on Amazon. They are by and large excellent reviews written by thoughful, educated readers. This book is for the learned and patient and yes knowledge of obscure literary references, mythology, and languages is helpful but not necessary. The reviews here are very helpful and if you read a few of them I do not doubt you will be inspired to find a copy of the book...
What I wanted to point out is that this book is the edited version. Why did Fowles edit a masterpiece? In reading the forward I deduce this was in many ways a reactionary edit. Fowles must have been over tired of his readers whining about "what does it all mean?"
READ THE ORIGINAL FIRST. Fowles edit of this book seems spiteful and mean spirited. he rips from our hands the original intention of the book in the final pages. making the 600 plus page journey nearly pointless.
We do not need clarification...especially in the way which Fowles pens it in this revised version. The original is the best literary work I have ever read...I cannot fathom the thought of editing it. It doesn't make sense. How often have you heard of such a thing for a work of fiction? It is like drawing a pencil mustache on the Mona Lisa.
Please read the original first.
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181 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Dudley on November 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
So infrequently does a work of fiction actually change the reader. This book gets under your conscious mind and toys with your perceptions, and in the end, ensures that you no longer take anything quite for granted anymore. The entire book is a wild ride of changing realities, where nothing is certain but constant change. It's a shame they give so much away in the synopsis on the back of the book, because it ruins a crucial plot point in the novel - one that would have been better had I not been expecting it.

The novel begins with young Nicholas Urfe as he tries to find a living he can at least take some interest in. He meets a young woman that nearly penetrates his outer shell of dispassionate world-weariness. As a gesture of independence, he lets her get away and he takes a job on an Greek island. There, he gets involved with a strange old man and his associates, and finds himself the victim of manipulative games and masquerades. He resolves to penetrate each and every deceit, and is led on a strange journey beyond his wildest imaginings.

After reading this book, I immediately wanted to share it with everyone I knew. It got me thinking about how much of my life I take for granted, how little of my own motivations I truly understand myself. Having read this book, I feel richer for the experience. I hope it can do for others what it's done for me.
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Fulton on March 26, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
John Fowles describes The Magus, published in 1965, as his first novel. The protagonist is Nicholas Urfe, a young, middle-class Englishman, an Oxford graduate. The book begins in England, describing Nicholas' confused affair with Alison. They part and Nicholas takes a job teaching at a private boys' school on a beautiful Greek Island, Phraxos. On one of his island wanderings, he comes across a remote villa, owned by Conchis, the Magus or magician of the story. Conchis, an elderly man with enormous wealth, hypnotic presence, and mysterious background, entices Nicholas into a series of surreal, often fascinating, often bewildering events, the reality and meaning of which continually elude both Nicholas and the reader. Alison reappears in the story along with many new and mysterious characters, most notably a phantom-like young woman with whom Nicholas falls in love.

In an illuminating foreword, written in 1976, Fowles acknowledges the "obvious influence of Jung." Jung theorized that human behavior is based on archetypes -- characters or patterns found in humankind's collective unconcious, embodied in its myths. One of the more fundamental archetypes is the character of The Magician - a archetype related to the shaman, or trickster, or even the divine fool -- an entity capable of moving between worlds and manipulating reality. The Magus explores this archetype both through the character of Conchis, but also through the author himself who plays trickster to his readers, with plot twists, misdirection, and ambiguity. The character Nicholas is a curious blend of archetypal patterns -- the emotionally regressed adolescent, the sophisticated intellectual, the callow seducer of women, the "mark" ensnared by his own stupidity and questionable motives.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on November 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I finished "The Magus" a few days ago and I'm still turning the images over and over in my mind. It refuses to leave my psyche, even while I'm trying to read a new book.
"The Magus" is about a young English man named Nicholas Urfe who gets a teaching job at a private school on a small Greek island. On a remote part of the island, he discovers a luxurious villa owned by a mysterious wealthy man named Conchis who apparently keeps to himself. The two of them meet and strike up an odd friendship, whereupon Conchis invites Nicholas to visit his villa on weekends.
In the course of these visits, Nicholas realizes that Conchis is not as solitary as he had been led to believe. Conchis tells Nicholas the story of his life in gradual installments, but because Conchis's world is so illusory, Nicholas doesn't know how much, if any, of it he can believe. Conchis likes to play mind games, dropping bizarre clues about himself and staging impromptu "scenes" designed to look like hallucinations. He is the consummate magician, pulling ever more unpredictable things out of his hat with which to puzzle and torment Nicholas. Nicholas is not sure why Conchis is doing these things, but he keeps returning to the villa because the bemusing games provide an interesting diversion from his boring life at the school. Also, there is the evasive beautiful young woman who is often found in Conchis's domain and who, Nicholas is sure, holds the key to his fate...
The plot unfolds like an elaborate, surrealistic con game, the kind David Mamet makes films about ("The House of Games" and "The Spanish Prisoner").
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