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Customer Review

232 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the original unedited version, May 12, 2002
This review is from: The Magus (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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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 23, 2009 8:34:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 29, 2009 12:36:11 PM PST
Daniel Davy says:
I read the original 34 years ago (when there was no "reactionary" edit), and recall that I thought it an engrossing & entertaining read. Recently, I have been reading a great deal about Greece, the Greek islands, Greek history, etc. In that context I recalled *The Magus* and also remembered reading that Fowles had published a revised version of it. I decided to read it over again simply because it was set on a Greek island (Yes, odd, I know), but at first could not decide which version to read. I was half of a mind to read the original again, because my memory of it was so positive (very impressionistic--could not remember any details), but then decided to read the revised version, having every intention of reading at least the ending of the original when I had finished the revised version. I had read in Amazon and elsewhere about the controversy over the changes, the changed ending etc, and was curious to see both versions.

I read the revised version, and absolutely, totally, loved it (see my Amazon review--8/08--for an elaboration of this point). In my opinion the ending was perfect. Not simply in terms of "what happened," but in every precise articulation of that "what"--just about every sentence, phrase, word--dead on right, perfectly pitched. In a sense, at least for me, the ending--the very end--subtly alters the significance of everything that happened previously (wonderful stuff!), and takes the book on to a different plane of meaning. It imparts a retroactive significance to the entire previous narrative. Anyway, I totally lost the motivation to "compare endings," as I did not--and do not--want to cloud my memory and sense of the newer version.

So, as my take on the novel seems to be exactly the opposite of yours, I thought I would leave this comment and let any reader make of it--and your comments--what they will. Perhaps two flatly contradictory views, taken together, will enhance in some tiny way the aura of mystification that surrounds enchanted Bourani!

Posted on Sep 2, 2010 10:39:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Feb 17, 2011 3:09:01 PM PST
mostserene1 says:
I myself prefer the original, and will hunt down a copy to re-read.

PS: I discovered a John Fowles website - that offers various Fowles books and even has a discussion board. Fans will find it interesting.

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 9:09:15 PM PDT
cindy jones says:
after having read the original, i couldn't even imagine reading an abridged version...what's up with that? what is the difference?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2011 6:34:36 PM PDT
Jackie Lee says:
After reading your review I wanted to read the original version. I looked high and low for it for a long time. I finally found it packed away in storage; it was the book that got me hooked on Fowles. Fortunately, I have forgotten most of the details of the mystification, so I have a great experience ahead.

I went through a real life experience somewhat similar to Nicholas Durfe, I too found it life-changing.

Posted on Aug 15, 2011 11:05:30 AM PDT
The original is far superior. Too much editing can destroy one's work.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 8:34:54 AM PDT
I want to read the original but can't find a copy anywhere! What year did he write the first version? I won't stop until I find it!

Posted on May 30, 2012 5:38:35 PM PDT
Susan C says:
Yes, I read the original first, in paperback, then tried to replace my loved-to-death copy and got the edited version. I was so mad when that seemed to be the only version I could find. The original is so much better, and can be bought used in hardcover for not much more than the paperback costs. I recommend. It is a fun book. Read it first at 18, then found an original at a used-book sale when I was in my 40s, and am reading it again in my 60s. Is it the greatest book ever? No. Is it a good, memorable read? Indeed it is. Wish they'd reissue the original version.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012 9:35:41 AM PST
Vivian Lee says:
This was my favorite book when I was 16. I reread it in my 20s and was sure it was a different book. I am glad you mentioned that there was a revision. To be honest, I liked both of them.

Posted on Apr 12, 2013 9:09:51 PM PDT
Badger says:
I also preferred the original, perhaps because I read it first. Also,not much of an "edit" when you actually add more than you edit out.

Posted on May 29, 2013 10:58:57 PM PDT
Dean Jamison says:
Sean Rogan hits the mark in recommending the first edition. Reading the 2nd edition made me just like I feel when I watch a mediocre movie of a book I love.
Dean Jamison
Alhambra, CA
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