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Discover John Fowles’ compelling classic first novel‘Short and spare and direct an intelligent thriller with psychological and social overtones’ Sunday TimesWithdrawn unedu. Rather than go into the plot details I d rather touch on the larger metaphors of the book in this review Although the basic plot is chilling enough on its own A man kidnaps a beautiful and intelligent young girl the parts that truly disturbed me had to do with what I believe Fowles was saying about modern culture and the rise of the middle class Though this book is decidedly British in many ways I think the issues he raises are applicable to any society where a large middle class is created in a relatively short amount of time For me this book is asking whether financial stability really leads to morality and fulfilling lives as in Major Barbara or if perhaps we actually lose our souls once our bellies are fedAs some have mentioned in other reviews Miranda is the stereotypical posh young artist Born rich it s easy for her to dismiss the complaints of the lower classes while at the same time hurling scorn at the society that produced her I ve met many people like Miranda especially during my Masters at Columbia School of the Arts where trust fund babies were the norm I went to school with a Pulitzer heiress for goodness sake and usually found them boring and shallow uick to namedrop an artist or recite tired rhetoric But as her story progressed I began to like her and Miranda is extremely self aware and I sensed that given time she would grow out of her naivety and become a truly amazing woman She is only 20 after all barely an adult and for all her idealistic pretension she is trying to evolve and grow something that s can t be said for many of my Columbia peers That s where the butterfly metaphor becomes even apt it s not just that she s a butterfly that Frederick has collected it s what a butterfly represents metamorphoses It s almost as if Frederick has trapped her right when she was about to break out of her cocoon halting her true beauty right before she was about to spread her wings Which brings me to Frederick as a stand in for middle class mediocrity Reading this book I was often reminded of the idea that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference Frederick is indifferent to everything art war sex etc The only thing he seems to respond to is a fleeting type of beauty and all he wants to do with that beauty is possess it Not love it not understand it just possess it His need to possess is similar to the middle classes need to buy buy buy with no thought as to why it s important to own the largest house drive the nicest car or watch the most expensive television As we ve seen with the rise of divorce prescription drugs therapy suicides and the general malaise of the populace during the latter half of the 20th century these things rarely produce happiness if anything they produce anxiety as credit debt rises while wages fall What Fowles seems to be asking is what are we doing with all this money and success are we living stable fulfilling lives or are we turning into something just as bad or worse than the elite we despise Frederick s winning the lottery should have been an opportunity for him to live the life he wanted free of economic worries not a chance to commit evil Similarly the rise of the middle class in America and the UK should have been a renaissance of ideas once our bellies were fed In many ways it was the civil rights and feminist movements come to mind but in others like the rise of reality television celebrity culture and punditry news our success has just made us comfortable and indifferent to human suffering We go on collecting pop music techno gadgets houses cars spouses designer clothes with no uestion or investigation as to why With the internet we have the opportunity to learn about anything and everything for the first time in history the entire history of the world is available at our fingertips Why then does misinformation and stupidity seem to be on the rise rather then the reverse Why then are we becoming less literate rather than Why when given the world we re choosing the slum instead I agree with Miranda when she says art collectors are the worst offenders The idea that art is merely an investment just like the idea that a house is merely an investment rather than a home you share your life in is abhorrent to me I could never stand to look at an ugly painting in my home just because it was worth money nor could I ever live with myself if I hoarded Picassos or Bacons or Kirchners purely for my own benefit Because the true lover of beauty and not all beauty is beautiful as Bacon proves wants to share that beauty with the world They want everyone to see hear taste feel and enjoy that beauty so that others lives may be enriched as well They want everyone to feel as passionately as they do about what they love but importantly they just want others to feel the example of the American soldier in the book comes to mind Anyone regardless of class money status etc is capable of living passionately and truthfully Frederick is a perfect example of someone who chooses not to or worse just doesn t really care either way

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The Collector

Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda believing she will grow to love him in timeAlone and desperate Miranda must struggle to understand her captor if she is to gain her freedo. I am one in a row of specimens It s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me I m meant to be dead pinned always the same always beautiful He knows that part of my beauty is being alive but it s the dead me he wants He wants me living but dead The Collector is the story of Frederick Clegg an extremely odd and lonely man who also collects butterflies He s obsessed with a middle class art student named Miranda Grey and as he continues admiring her from a distance a plan slowly starts developing in his mind that he would like to have her like one of his butterflies He makes preparations by buying a house out in the country purchasing assorted objects and things he knows she will need convinced that if he can only capture her and keep her that she will slowly grow to love himThe first part of the novel was told from Frederick s point of view and it was rather alarming at his thought process In his mind there is nothing morally wrong with what he intends to do and what he actually ends up doing He recognizes that Miranda is a human being as he takes care of her and provides her everything a human would possibly need but she s inevitably nothing than an object or a collectible item to him He doesn t mean to harm her at first however it s evident that as time progresses he enjoys having power over her and almost finds humor in her attempts to escape The second part of the novel was told from Miranda s point of view through diary entries that she hides underneath her mattress She writes about GP often a man she met and who ended up having a huge impact on her thoughts and ideals To Miranda GP was everything she wanted to be and his opinions and thoughts became a set of rules for her At first I had a hard time determining the relevancy of these recollections but it essentially just became another disturbing piece of the story to see how influential GP and his rules really were to Miranda He s made me believe them it s the thought of him that makes me feel guilty when I break the rules It was almost expected however still just as shocking when it becomes glaringly obvious that Miranda slowly begins to take pity on her captor She starts feeling bad for the harsh things she says to him and she also unconsciously prevents herself from doing him excessive harm during an escape attempt as she feels that if she does she s descending to his levelIt was as if she had simply accepted her situation and that was the most heartbreaking part And yes he had dignity than I did then and I felt small mean Always sneering at him jabbing him hating him and showing it It was funny we sat in silence facing each other and I had a feeling I ve had once or twice before of the most peculiar closeness to him not love or attraction or sympathy in any way But linked destiny Like being shipwrecked on an island a raft together In every way not wanting to be together But together The third and fourth parts of the novel were the most disturbing parts of the entire book Suffice it to say it gave me goosebumps It was not the ending I had anticipated but I still felt that the author was successful in creating the everlasting effect I believe he intended Obviously you understand the severity of Ferdinand s actions however not until the end do you fully understand just how abnormal he really is This was certainly not a happy book but one that I m glad to have read and one that I will likely not forget

John Fowles í 8 Read

Cated and unloved Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger art student Miranda Coming into unexpected money he buys a remote. This is one of those boy meets girl chloroforms her throws her in the back of the van and stuffs her in his basement type stories I knew that already and so I was really not expecting to be coshed on the head and chucked down in the basement as well and tied hands and feet and gagged so that all I could hear was the uiet reasonable voice of working class loner Fred Clegg aged 22 explaining how he d fallen in love from afar with the unattainable art student Miranda Grey since he was much too shy to go up speak to her the only way he could figure out how to meet her and get her to really see the kind of person he was a good person with proper values not the upper class idiots she was hanging around with was to chloroform her and stuff her in his basement Normally a lowly clerk could not do any such thing but Fred had a stroke of luck he won the modern euivalent of 16 million on the football pools 1960s version of the National Lottery so he could ditch his family buy an isolated cottage with a lovely big cellarFred explains for 122 pages how attentive to her every whim he was how this was the gentlest form of kidnapping ever and aside from the initial drugging throwing in the van and the alas necessary gagging and binding from time to time otherwise she d escape probably as she had not yet come to see what a good person with proper values he was all she had to do was express a casual desire for Mozart uartets caviar and Beaujolais and he would roar off in the van and get it Fred is the sweetest psycho ever The kindest and most attentive He doesn t even want to perform any kind of carnal irregularities with Miranda he thinks that sex before marriage is wrong No slurping and grunting at allAnyway after 122 pages of this fascinating and truly awful yet completely believable reasonable you would have done the same mad droning suddenly there s a jump cut we get 150 pages of Miranda retelling the whole story in her secret diary This is nearly the hardest part of the novel to read because Miranda turns out to be a ghastly art snob with a fixation on an old enough to be her father boho painter shagster so one is torn between being horrified at her bleak situation which increasingly looks as if it will not end well I mean really when a relationship starts with chloroform and basements it is has probably got off on the wrong foot and being horrified at the seething embarrassments of class and sex and posturing pomposity and pettiness revealed in these seemingly neverending jottings This is a brilliant stroke by John Fowles and really messes with your mind As does the whole book After that things just go badly


10 thoughts on “The Collector

  1. says:

    Rather than go into the plot details I'd rather touch on the larger metaphors of the book in this review Although the basic plot is chilling enough on its own A man kidnaps a beautiful and intelligent young girl the parts that truly disturbed me had to do with what I believe Fowles was saying about modern culture and the rise of the middle class Though this book is decidedly British in many ways I think the issues he raises are applicable

  2. says:

    Fredrick is a clerk and butterfly collector who wins some money that lets him retire Fredrick is lonely and has trouble getting along with others the only people he really has are his aunt and cousin He watches an art student named Miranda who starts to become his obsession When he suddenly has a lot of free time and mo

  3. says:

    I read this when I was very young Young enough that anything with a sexual connotation was interesting to me Even really perverse deviations like this A collector of butterflies 'collects' a girl and holds her prisoner His

  4. says:

    This is one of those boy meets girl chloroforms her throws her in the back of the van and stuffs her in his basement type stories I knew that already and so I was really not expecting to be coshed on the head and chucked down in the basement as well and tied hands and feet and gagged so that all I could hear was

  5. says:

    This novel was unlike anything I’ve read before and the character of Frederick will certainly leave a lasting memory I don’t think there’s been a character that’s made my skin crawl or forced me to talk back shout at a book on so many an occasion – well done FowlesI definitely think Book Readers should have this book on their shelf

  6. says:

    Impotent sociopath kidnaps beautiful art student Told partly from the sociopath's perspective That's my jam I should have loved this bookBut something left me cold I suppose it may have been all the bitching and complaining the beautiful art student did in her stupid diary What a helpless twit Not to imply that

  7. says:

    This novel is over fifty years old and it holds up very well It is the rudimentary skeleton that is upheld fleshed by current events given a brain by contemporary writers ad nauseum by CSI Law and Order Law and Order SVU Medium Crimi

  8. says:

    ’I am one in a row of specimens It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me I’m meant to be dead pinned always the same alway

  9. says:

    It's been hard for me to focus lately – gee I wonder why?Over the past month I've begun several books lost interest shelved them I once imagined that if I had hours and hours to read I'd finally get around to

  10. says:

    35 stars Thought by some to be the first psychological thriller this book left me slightly wanting The Collector