well, the magus. it started off in a very familiar and comfortable place for me: england, and people who fancy themselves poets, and love affairs. the spelling seemed affected: "affaire" was used throughout-- i have promised myself to look into usage here but ultimately i felt there was a lot of pretentious flourishes in this book -- and the one that bothered me most was naming a character "conchis" who then speaks out from the book making sure you get the bad pun by asking that an anglicized pronunciation be used. after that, i just kept stopping every twenty pages and snickering. i have read that this was fowles' first novel so it may be that this is a forgivable and hopefully unrepeated failing in his other works.
there are some very fine descriptions of the landscapes of phraxos and parnassus and i really did enjoy the story that is spun out by maurice conchis as he beguiles the young english wannabe poet/teacher urfe. i will have fond memories of that tale of young love, and the battlefield, and especially his time in norway, studying birds and men, for some time. and i know that the book wants you to identify with conchis, and not urfe, but i couldn't help of think of the film the wicker man as i read this book, and how much i don't like it (spoilers for the film and a slight one for the novel in the next few sentences -- you are forewarned!) i don't like it because the same methodology is employed: people need a victim so they set up a mystery, and ensnare a rigid and unlikeable, and above all, orphaned young man who is then punished
. and as i thought during that film, so i thought during this book: "this person might have been rigid and unlikeable but what was that to you? is his life less valuable than yours because you feel he has spent it unprofitably?" and the answer to that question for me is: no. basically fowles gave me an unlikeable character, and guess what? i didn't like him. but that doesn't mean the conclusion of the novel gives me any more satisfaction that seeing a man burn inside an effigy. urfe says he has learned but i don't think he's changed, and the story did not satisfy me.
the book taught me some new words i didn't know before, like "enislement". for this, the life story of maurice (let us ignore his last name), the tempest-like atmosphere that was present in the first third of the novel, and the quality of the writing, i am disposed to give it three stars though i don't know how long that will last. i actually think i would have liked this book much more if it had just been a modern version of the tempest. ;P
changed rating to two stars. i can no longer really recall the story of maurice's youth (i am not saying his last name again because it pains me. :P)