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The Collector by John Fowles

The Collector (1963)

by John Fowles

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MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,274901,678 (3.99)237
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English (85)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (90)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Welp, that was pretty fucked-up.

Basically, one third of the book is telling the life of Miranda being locked up in the cellar from both her and Fred's point of view. I thought that Fred was simply a very misunderstood and lonely soul. He does things that are wrong but doesn't seem to know how vile they are. It was only near the ending that Fowles really invoked the feeling of hatred towards Fred in me. From the narration, you could tell that he was gradually steeping into an inhuman behaviour. I realized how disgusting he was and his nonchalance about Miranda's death was horrifying. Furthermore, Fred kept insisting that he was at least better than those who would have defiled Miranda in his place and that the fact that he didn't should make her grateful, which was sick. Not doing those foul things does not make him any less forgiveable. At all.

Fowles also has a terrific skill of invoking sympathy in readers. From Miranda's diary entries, she often mentioned of this G.P. guy whom she harboured feelings for but was confused at first. She admitted it later in the story(which was of course too late) that she loved him and whatnot. This made the ending tons more tragic that it was. You would think how someone could be so selfish as to destroy what could have been a better life of another..

This normally isn't the kind of book I'd read but I don't regret it one bit after doing so. John Fowles is a very exceptional and masterful writer and I think everyone should definitely give this book a read! ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
Well, this book is immured in creepiness. An unhinged loner (imagine that!) carefully plans the abduction and imprisonment of a young woman he has become obsessed with. That he has won "the pools" (a kind of lotto in the UK), and can afford to buy a remote ancient farmhouse to suit his scheme is a big help. His (Ferdinand's) only worldly interest is collecting butterflies, and Miranda becomes, in a sense, his latest quarry. The first half of the book we hear the abductor's narration of events, the second half belongs mainly to Miranda, writing in a secreted journal in her abode. Her daily scribbles, attempts at psychological manipulation of "Caliban", as she
comes to call him, and memories of a loved one build tension toward a climax that the reader suspects, but isn't sure, will be a sad one.
Written 1963. Set in England. Much enjoyed. ( )
  JamesMScott | Mar 17, 2015 |
Hauntingly good.

I felt terrified finishing it. And for me, that means I was written well if it could affect me so. ( )
  Czarmoriarty | Feb 27, 2015 |
I am confused by this book.

The subject matter seemed promising - a disturbed individual who is a collector of butterflies who then decides one day to collect a woman. I thought maybe this could be a story about being inside a disturbed individual's mind - or maybe it is a story of hope or survival or an unconventional tale of how the woman survives. It was neither.

Fred/Ferdinand - whoever he was, was as bland as a sheet of paper. Miranda was silly, helpless and chose to spend her time obsessed over an older artist and art or obscure politics in general or how many things she could get - and she also felt one dimensional. Nothing really happened. Fred collects Miranda and she stagnates in a room. Thats literally it. The author could have ran with so many different concepts and ideas but nothing happened at all. I was so completely underwhelmed from this book which supposedly had a
controversial subject matter. I was expecting it to be at least interesting. ( )
  KittyBimble | Feb 12, 2015 |
Another book that I’ve had for a while, but sort of dreaded reading. Lately fictional psychopaths, in all their evil forms, are less and less appealing. Knowing that part of The Collector is told in first person by the abductor is what put me off. But then the mood struck and I picked it up and pretty much read it in a day. It reminds me very much of Ruth Rendell’s early work; she got into the minds of her psychos, too. I wonder how much of an influence this book was on her, it’s that similar.

Frederick is the title character and he’s quite the sicko although he maintains an attitude of moral superiority and insists that inflicting his presence on a girl by force, she will somehow, magically begin to see his good side and fall hopelessly in love with him. He justifies his actions continually, knowing it’s wrong, but somehow insisting that the rules don’t apply to him and what he’s doing isn’t really that bad. She’s got heat, a bed, clothes, food, art books, everything she could want. There is no sex in the picture either which should make her grateful shouldn’t it? And eerily, Miranda’s own fantasies about her erstwhile “mentor” are nearly the same. They both dream of some platonic ideal with flowers, good meals, beautiful clothes and making friends and neighbors jealous with their perfection.

Contrasting his narrative is Miranda’s - his captive. While on the surface there isn’t much similarity, as the story progressed I picked some out. Both arrange themselves into us and them categories. He insists he’s better than the average person, smarter and with purer intentions, all the while resisting appearing too upper class and as he says ‘la di da’. It’s pretty hilarious actually, once you get beyond the horror of what he’s done to her. Miranda divides into the New People and The Few. The Few are the ones who effortlessly understand how to disconnect from all that is stifling and uncultured. They understand art and that it is the most important thing ever. She even tries to convince him about the rightness of nuclear disarmament and how no one should have the H bomb. It’s pretty hilarious, however I thought Miranda’s voice to be plausible. Twenty is a difficult age in most eras, but in the early 1960s the youth of that time had a tendency to get really above themselves, thinking they knew all about culture and freedom and love. It’s the time when we think we know everything and easily fall under the spell of anyone we hope to emulate; the crush, it hit her hard with G.P. Then there was the whole Catcher in the Rye thing; of course she’d sanction Holden while Frederick rolled his eyes.

In the end though, it’s all about mastered and master, prison and prisoner, but it’s not that clear cut. Frederick is imprisoned by his desires, mastered by them. Her imprisonment and illness becomes his prison and he takes the only way out he can justify to himself. The tone won’t allow for a happy ending and a reader shouldn’t expect one. What we’re left with is lingering evil residing in the shadows, the edges, waiting to abduct another girl, and another and another with no end in sight. It’s quite chilling to think that he’ll only stop when he’s caught. No woman will ever fulfill his fantasies. He will always horrify them or be horrified by them when they do something fully natural, but outside his idea of acceptable behavior (Miranda’s attempted seduction for example). Every new captive will keep him trapped in his ideas of superiority and right, fixed to the spot by his crimes. Oh and look now, here she comes. ( )
2 vote Bookmarque | Jan 27, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Fowlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schouwen, Frédérique vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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que fors aus ne le sot riens nee
First words
When she was home from her boarding-school I used to see her almost every day sometimes, because their house was right opposite the Town Hall Annexe.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
This is a tale of obsessive love-the story of a lonely clerk who collects butterflies and of the beautiful young art student who is his ultimate quarry - remains unparalleled in its power to startle and mesmerize. (0-316-29023-8)
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Ferdinand has always loved collecting butterflies, but when he becomes obsessed with a young college student, he decides to add her to his collection, against her wishes.

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