The Collector

02/10/2012 at 12:01 PM (Books, Classics, Horror, Movies) (, , , , )

So I finally have some breathing space to actually sit down and write a review. I have been reading but just haven’t had the time to write since my reading is mostly done during my one-hour train commute to work. Well, I was fascinated by The Collector’s cover and the vintage classic which was the first effort of John Fowles (better known as the author of The French Lieutenant’s Woman) was an unexpected treat.

Here’s the basic overview of the plot: Dull and ordinary clerk Frederick Clegg has an obsession. The object of his obsession is a woman, namely a pretty art student named Miranda Grey. After lucking out on the lottery, he moves out from his aunt’s and purchases an old estate with a cellar in country England. This is where it starts getting bizarre. Deciding he has to have the company of Miranda at all costs because he “loves” her, he kidnaps the poor girl and keeps her captive in the cellar which contrasts with his hobby of collecting different butterflies. Essentially Miranda is a human specimen.

The Collector - John Fowles

The first half of the story is narrated from Frederick’s point of view while the second half is gleaned through Miranda’s diary. It is obvious that these two are far from being a perfect match because their opinions conflict and their individual perspectives are at odds with the beliefs of the other party.

but I have left the best part for last. With the last of Miranda’s diary entries, we come to a plot twist that will shock you about Frederick for whom, nine times out of ten, you would have felt sympathy so far because of his lack of social skills. Reeling with that, we are treated to an unexpected ending which is very ingenuous for book written in 1963. There was a movie made in 1965 but seriously don’t miss out on the prose. I thought Miranda’s rambling went on for a little too long for my liking since I found her own obsession with an older paramour grating but other than that I have no quibbles with it.  It is in the face of what happens, I would say, a horror story in the sense of psychological suspense.

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4 Comments

  1. Christopher Lampton said,

    Thanks for reminding me: I need to read The Collector. I regard The French Lieutenant’s Woman as one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century and think The Magus is fascinating, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to reading The Collector and everyone I know that’s read it has told me it’s terrific. (Now if only I could figure out why I find Daniel Martin unreadable….)

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    • leadinglight said,

      I haven’t read The Magus but it’s def. more famous than The Collector. Is it good? I think in Australia, they have re-released The Collector which is why I found it in the first place. Daniel Martin – the reviews of it I’ve seen have skewed in different direction but I’d need to read it myself to pass opinion.

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  2. Christopher Lampton said,

    I thought The Magus was brilliant — right up until I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman and realized it was even better. Fowles was a great writer and it’s regrettable that he didn’t write more. But he seemed to hit a severe writer’s block at some point and then had a stroke that left him pretty much unable to write at all.

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  3. artclubblog said,

    I read this sooo long ago, you’ve made me want to re-read this. Thanks!

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