THE JOURNALS: Volume I: 1949–1965

John Fowles, Author, Charles Drazin, Editor , edited and with an intro. by Charles Dazin. Knopf $35 (668p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4431-3

The author of The French Lieutenant's Woman had a conventional upper-middle-class English background and Oxford education. This volume of Fowles's (b. 1926) journals opens as he finishes his last year at college with few plans for his vocation as a writer but a great sense of himself. The journals are, in many respects, more about the latter than the former. Fowles's intense examination of his own character, moods and thoughts gets punctured only by new places and exceptional people. His time as a schoolteacher in France and later Greece brings out the best in his entries. On the isle of Spetsai, which later inspired the bestseller The Magus, Fowles is enthralled by its landscape and inhabitants, and becomes entangled in a love triangle with Elizabeth Christy, the wife of a fellow teacher. Returning to London, he elopes with her, finds a position teaching at a secretarial college and labors on various literary projects. The success of his first novel, The Collector (1963), makes little private difference to Fowles; his collaboration with Hollywood on movie adaptations and socializing with literary lions like John Bayley and Iris Murdoch prove less important to him than being able to escape London and move to Lyme Regis, where he would write his most famous novel and continue his voluminous, meticulous journals. 16 pages of b&w photos. (May 5)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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