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The Collector by John Fowles

The Collector (1963)

by John Fowles

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,202861,739 (4)234
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» See also 234 mentions

English (82)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
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 |

I first came across The Collector while watching Criminal Minds (The episode with someone called The Fisher King), and somewhere in my mind a made a special note of this book. When I saw it some time later, I really wanted to read it. (My cover by the way has a butterfly on the cover, which in my opinion fits the story much better than the one shown here on Booklikes).

It's a story about a young man, who has won a lot of money in some kind of lottery and can now do as he pleases. One of the things he likes to do is collect things. When he sees a beautiful young woman one day, he wants to collect her as well. Next thing she knows, she wakes up in her new cell, the principal piece is his collection. He's sure that she will eventually like him (He's already expecting Stockholm syndrome?)...

This book was written in 1963, which makes it - I think - one of the first books in the modern sub genre 'psychological thriller'. I really liked this one. It was very elaborate, didn't try to shock people by disgusting details of rape or torture. It did however shock me on many other levels, like the fact he never thinks he's doing something wrong, he just making sure they can get to know each other well enough to fall in love.

It also shows the major point of this story, the fact that the main character is a coward, he can never life with his own choices. It shows trough everything he does. (The spoiler will give you some examples)

- Instead of just trying to make her fall in love with him the normal way, he abducts her

- When she starts getting sick he promises to move her upstairs, buy her medicine, get her to a hospital, but never does any of these things, even if this means she'll die.

- When she's dead, he plans to kill himself, but obviously, never does.

- He's absolutely sure he'll never be able to love any one else, for about five minutes. (this last one did creep me out a bit, because how many woman could he have held in that cell without anyone noticing?)

I also really liked the POV. It's mainly the man's, but sometimes it switches to the woman's and we get some parts again, but from the different POV. It gives insides in the different motives they have for displaying certain behaviour, and how they let their own judgement be clouded with (false) hope.

This really is an interesting read, it's one of my favourite thrillers. I would definitely recommend this book! ( )
1 vote Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
I found it both disturbing and fascinating to read this since Fowles has managed to make the reader feel a sort of non-accepted sympathy for the mentally confused narrator. He's talking to the reader as if we understand each other, as if his view is obvious, and from time to time I found myself lost in the world of a confused person who's doing something completely horrible but still makes it sound like it's okay.

These kinds of stories are not really my favorites, but I must say that I was very impressed with John Fowles' writing. This was all about the craft of story telling and he is the master.

[ai:Charlotte Eriksson|7056690|Charlotte Eriksson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367998964p2/7056690.jpg]
[a:Charlotte Eriksson|7056690|Charlotte Eriksson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367998964p2/7056690.jpg] ( )
  theGlassChild | Dec 16, 2014 |
Creepy, very creepy. It's one thing to read a book about a deranged psychopath, it's entirely another to be inside his head. Can't think of another book that uses first-person perspective so effectively. And then you get to the ending and realize... well, you'll just have to get to the ending yourself. ( )
  5hrdrive | Oct 31, 2014 |
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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
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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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