Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"A Pale Clouded Yellow, for instance."

"I always thought of her like that, I mean words like elusive and sporadic, and very refined - not like the other ones, even the pretty ones. More for the real connoisseur." - John Fowles, The Collector

British author John Fowles passed on today. Most people would only know him for The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Magus. My first contact with Fowles was through his first novel, The Collector. The work is still extremely poignant for me. It is the story of a reclusive butterfly collector that turns his gaze towards Miranda, a young artist. Frederick Clegg eventually finds himself, though almost outside of himself, abducting her. I was struck by the internal dialog as Fred so slowly and innocently moves from thinking about the details of carrying out the abduction to actually embracing it. The slow surrender of thought into deed is so beautifully weaved by Fowles, I'm awed by it.

The novel is written in two parts. In the first Clegg narrates the details of his obsession, the abduction, and the relationship that ensues. The second part is the journal kept by Miranda documenting the experience through her eyes. There are many details that I would love to go into but I'd prefer that everyone read this work and I don't want to reveal too many details of the plot.

There is a 1965 film based on the work with a notable performance by Terrance Stamp. The movie is well done but it does the book little justice. Fowles was a great scholar of literature and The Collector harkens back to many great works and this aspect of the work simply does not translate to film.

With all that said I raise my glass to John Fowles. I will he achieved his goals during this incarnation. His work greatly enhanced my experience. ~Gregg

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