In 1963, John Fowles won international recognition with The Collector, his first published novel. In the years following—with the publication of The Magus, The French Lieutenant’s Woman , The Ebony Tower, and his other critically acclaimed works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—Fowles took his place among the most innovative and important English novelists of our time. Now, with this first volume of his journals, which covers the years from 1949 to 1965, we see revealed not only the creative development of a great writer but also the deep connection between Fowles’s autobiographical experience and his literary inspiration.
Commencing in Fowles’s final year at Oxford, the journals in this volume chronicle the years he spent as a university lecturer in France; his experiences teaching school on the Greek island of Spetsai (which would inspire The Magus ) and his love affair there with the married woman who would later become his first wife; and his return to England and his ongoing struggle to achieve literary success. It is an account of a life lived in total engagement with the world; although Fowles the novelist takes center stage, we see as well Fowles the nascent poet and critic, ornithologist and gardener, passionate naturalist and traveler, cinephile and collector of old books.
Soon after he fell in love with his first wife, Elizabeth, Fowles wrote in his journal, “She has asked me not to write about her in here. But I could not not write, loving her as I do. . . . What else I betrayed, I could not betray this diary.” It is that determined, unsparing honesty and forthrightness that imbues these journals with all the emotional power and narrative complexity of his novels. They are a revelation of both the man and the artist.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Journals|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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63 Fillebrook Avenue, Leigh-on-Sea, 11 September 1949
This so dull life, mingled with hate and annoyance and pity. No attempt here at method or speed. The housework drags on all day - cleaning, hoovering, dusting, making beds, sewing, washing-up and so on. No one ever sits down before suppertime. It is wrong, but the smallness of the rooms and the house is so noticeable now. The nursery stuffed full of things, always untidy; the dining-room dark and gloomy - only the lounge is tolerable, and one never lives there. The cloistered life with no one to talk to, no one to laugh with - here I am like a hermit, and quite unnatural. An absolute craving for new faces, new meetings, new places. I would tell them so much, but a curious obstinacy prevents this. Always an air of mulish hostility.
Two beautiful things. A big, spacious sunset sky - elegant and not ostentatious, but curiously in the east, to the west nothing but a bank of low, dark clouds. The end of a Spergularia in the microscope - like a minute green saturn.1 A tiny shining ball with a ring of gauzy skin around it. Also the sails of some Thames barges half-hidden by mist. A curious thing. About to throw a piece of screwed-up paper into the yellow jug which serves as waste-paper basket, I said to myself, 'As much chance as you have of being genius.' It fell into the jug without a murmur, a 20 to 1 chance, at the least.
Another day of silence, listening to other people's trivialities - a dreadful hour at night when all the completely banal information gained from a visit of relatives is repeated and reviewed. Two mathematical impossibilities I sh