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The Journals : Volume I: 1949-1965

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400044313
ISBN-10: 1400044316
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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very good copy with moderate cover and page wear from being handled and read. Accessories or dust jacket may be missing. Could be an ex-library copy that will have all the stickers and or marking of the library. Some textual or margin notes possible, and or contain highlighting.
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of The French Lieutenant's Woman had a conventional upper-middle-class English background and Oxford education. This volume of Fowles's (b. 1926) journals opens as he finishes his last year at college with few plans for his vocation as a writer but a great sense of himself. The journals are, in many respects, more about the latter than the former. Fowles's intense examination of his own character, moods and thoughts gets punctured only by new places and exceptional people. His time as a schoolteacher in France and later Greece brings out the best in his entries. On the isle of Spetsai, which later inspired the bestseller The Magus, Fowles is enthralled by its landscape and inhabitants, and becomes entangled in a love triangle with Elizabeth Christy, the wife of a fellow teacher. Returning to London, he elopes with her, finds a position teaching at a secretarial college and labors on various literary projects. The success of his first novel, The Collector (1963), makes little private difference to Fowles; his collaboration with Hollywood on movie adaptations and socializing with literary lions like John Bayley and Iris Murdoch prove less important to him than being able to escape London and move to Lyme Regis, where he would write his most famous novel and continue his voluminous, meticulous journals. 16 pages of b&w photos. (May 5)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* John Fowles' fiction, especially The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman, continue to enthrall readers, but it's been 20 years since his last novel. This long absence makes the revelation of his practice of keeping remarkably detailed, analytical journals all the more arresting. As the first of two volumes makes clear, journal writing is just as compelling to Fowles as fiction, and readers will feel the same, given Fowles' candor and discernment as he describes his literary convictions, the people he meets, the books he reads, the poverty he endures, and his experiences at Oxford, in France, on the Greek island of Spetai, and in London. Fowles wrote under the radar until he turned 37, in 1962, and his first novel, The Collector, made him a celebrity. As fascinating as the story of his evolution as a writer is, it's the epic story of his thwarted love for a married woman that renders his journals incandescent. Fowles suggests that this masterfully edited volume "might best be thought of as another novel," yet it is all the more astonishing in its preservation and transmuting of real life. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Journals (Alfred A. Knopf) (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044313
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,474,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The editorial review pretty much nails it. Breathless prose, mostly to do with nature and gardening. A lot of scientific names of plants cultivated in Fowles's garden.

He doesn't provide much insight into his writing process. He writes and writes about how much time he spends working on each book but how do his characters come ALIVE, that's what got me interested in his journals in the first place, but the answers aren't there (as if he knew his personal stuff would be read and published afterwards).

There are occasional splashes of anger. Following the news of the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie, Fowles writes: "Everyone falls over themselves to avoid the truth: that most Muslims are very primitive people and can't be treated as sophisticated ones. If you endlessly prod a tiger, of course its claws will flash out. And all this forces us, on behalf of the principle, to volunteer to be martyrs. Absurd." (14 February 1989).

Writing about his occasional meetings with Ian McEwan, Fowles doesn't offer any private glimpses into his fellow-writer's personality. Mentioning Kazuo Ishiguro's THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, he concludes his entry with a mere "I liked it."

Apparently, he hated Charlotte Rampling. After viewing THE NIGHT PORTER with his wife and friends he told them that the "creature" can't act. Funny how she went on to become one of the most celebrated actresses of the British (as well as international) cinema. The film itself, Fowles thought, was interesting but filthy.

At times, Fowles angrily denounces homosexuality, then writes (after having been visited by two gay friends at his lonely house), "Thank god for homosexuals!"

All in all, interesting stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
These are diaries which all novelists should read, and they are the greatest work of literature contributed by John Fowles. His capacity to disarm complex thought into readable sentences reveals itself here more than in any of his novels, and we can perceive by the casual witticisms, observations on art, and brilliant descriptions of nature a powerful creative mind thrashing against its boredom with society. Fowles finds refuge in his garden, and occasionally in his wife Elizabeth, but the general tone of his entries over the entire course of his life is one of poisoned dissatisfaction with human affairs. He attacks everything he sees. The diaries rise above vitriol because they are so well written -- their length and detail create an intimacy excluded from the plot-based novel form, and by the end of their first year our identification with their author is almost complete. Without explicit instruction, they show how he was able to create works like "The Magus" by producing the total catalogue of raw materials that went into that book, and by revealing the astonishing sensitivity with which John Fowles experienced the world. There are few modern diaries that are so detailed or complete, regularly updated from the college years to the beginning of senescence: these are not only a skeleton key to Fowles's works but the complete marrow of his brain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was blown away by the two volumes of John Fowles' journals. They are an amazing account, of the man's life, of his decision to become a writer and of the process he followed to make it happen. If you are a fan of Mr. Fowles' work, then you will enjoy reading these volumes as much as you enjoyed his novels. In fact, Mr. Fowles considered the journals to be his last novel. This book will also be of interest to anyone with an eye on beginning their own career as a writer. In addition to giving invaluable insights into the creative process that went into works such as "The Magus", "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and "Daniel Martin", it also paints a picture of the struggle and the business of making a living from writing fiction. I loved "The Journals of John Fowles" and look forward to dipping into them again and again.
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