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The Magus (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

John Fowles
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Nov 2004 Vintage Classics
On a remote Greek Island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion intertwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games. John Fowles expertly unfolds a tale that is lush with over-powering imagery in a spellbinding exploration of human complexities. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a feast for the mind and the senses.

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The Magus (Vintage Classics) + The Collector (Vintage Classics) + The French Lieutenant's Woman (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (4 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099478358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099478355
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'An astonishing achievement' -- Anthony Burgess

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'An astonishing achievement' Anthony Burgess

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
136 of 140 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Like a lot of reviwers here, I've been re-reading the Magus at odd points throughout my life, probably about once every 10 years on average. I've always admired and enjoyed it, though not entirely uncritically, and have been fascinated at my own various reactions to it over the years, reflecting my own life experiences at given times.
I think it is essentially a novel best read for the first time in curious, impressionable, early adulthood. it definately helps to have a strong imaginative streak and your head more than a little in the clouds - I've recommended it to diehard pragmatists over the years who just don't get it at all.
Like most young people who liked the book it has turned into something of a landmark in my life - the first book which I genuinely felt opened up key areas of myself and got me thinking along more abstract lines. It let me fly, basically.
The last time I read it I had just turned 40 and realised for the first time that I could no longer really identify with Nicholas as a peer-group figure, which slightly saddened me, despite the fact that I have never particularly liked him.
It also drove home to me that it really is a book aimed directly at young people, about the whole process of growing up and realising that the world, and everything in it, is a limitless but mysterious place, beyond control and all the more intoxicating for it.
I also found myself, for the first time, being a bit annoyed by Fowles's rather irritating assumption of his readers background in classical mythology, French and Shakesperian tragedy; but I try to tell myself this only reflects the cultural and educational time in which it was written.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The conjuror’s greatest illusion 23 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
Upon learning that The Magus had won a place in the BBC’s Top One-Hundred Books list, I decided to give it a read. It is often – quite rightly – referred to as a cult classic, and it is only around two hundred pages into the book that it becomes clear why.
The story follows a young teacher by the name of Nicholas Urfe. Deciding he wishes to get away from dreary London, Nicholas takes a job on the sparsely populated Greek island of Phraxos. As his departure date draws nearer, the young Mr Urfe becomes reluctant to leave his Australian girlfriend Alison (a character who, although rarely making an appearance, becomes more and more significant as the book progresses). He does leave however, and although captivated by the island’s majestic scenery and untouched landscape, he finds he is incredibly lonely with only one of his fellow schoolmasters to easily converse with. Out walking one day, Nicholas spots a charming villa and decides to go for a closer look. This, as he puts it himself, is ‘when the mysteries began.’
The other main character of the book is a rather eccentric elderly gentleman by the name of Maurice Conchis. Conchis, it is revealed later in the book, is the Magus (being the magician figure in the Tarot pack), and he takes great pleasure in bringing said mysteries before Nicholas. Conchis introduces his new friend to a young lady he calls Lily. This may seem perfectly normal, but it is only when you take into account that the previous evening Conchis informed the young teacher that his former fiancé – Lily – was killed many years previously that it becomes rather eerie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark twisted mindgames 25 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having never heard of John Fowles or 'The Magus' I bought this book at Christmas as a bit of a gamble and was pleased when it was all I hoped for and a lot more. The book is a long one but it is beautifully written and I found it very hard to put down. The gist of the book is this, a young romantic cad named Nicholas Urfe gets a job teaching on a Greek island, meets a Svengali type (Conchis) and is subjected to all kinds of manipulations and mindgames at Conchis' house over the length of a summer. The narrator (Nicholas) isn't a very nice person and if there is any moral to this story I suppose it's that our actions affect others much more than we suppose. By the end of the book I had come to identify a lot with Nicholas, or maybe I pitied him, but there were moments near the end where I almost couldn't bear to turn the page. This is where 'The Magus' shows itself to be an extraordinary work, in making us feel what Nicholas feels to a huge extent, so that some of his sense of fear and helplessness is experienced by the reader. This isn't a very nice feeling but it's a rare book that can make you feel this way. Overall Fowles has created a warts and all character who we can identify with, due to his ubiquitous struggle with the unknown, and a book that shocks ,scares and really makes you think. Essential reading for all would-be Lotharios !
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet the granddaddy of alternate reality games 4 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this for two reasons. I was forced to study The French Lieutenant's Woman at college and ended up loving it - especially its play with language, sympathies and endings - despite my best intentions. And I'd heard that the excellent 1997 film The Game was taken in part from The Magus. In fact, Fowles' working title for it was The Godgame. Both book and film pivot around an over-privileged, under enlightened man called Nicholas (as does the BBC's excellent 1988 mini-series The One Game).

There's a film version of The Magus, staring Michael Caine in the lead role. Not a lot of people know that. The word on the street is that it's dire. I think The Magus would make a magnificent short series for TV, maybe over five or six hour-long episodes. You'd need at least this amount of screen time and chew-over time to get your head around it.

I usually don't like books of the what-the-heck-is going-on variety. Neither do I appreciate the art-for art's-sake genre, nor its close cousin, the look-how-smart-I-am. But I loved this. I just don't really know what its all about, that's all. Now, I only finished it after a marathon stint last week, but here are my first reactions.

I liked the central character, Nicholas Urfe. I'm not sure you're supposed to like him; he's a bit of a classist cad. But Fowles so well describes his history, thought-processes and torments that you can't help but empatise. And Fowles takes his time with Nicholas. In many novels, I wonder why the protagonist doesn't think or act in ways that are obvious to me. Here, every time I wondered why Nicholas doesn't do a certain thing, he then goes on to do it.

As my estimation, yea affection, for Nicholas grew, so my aversion to his mentor-figure, the magus of title, grew too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great, thanks for delivering so quick.
Published 4 days ago by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 11 days ago by Arabela Negrea
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read
This is a novel that clearly displays Fowles' mastery of the written word. Filled with intrigue, this story draws you in and keeps you guessing. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Edwin Page
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious
I read this because someone very dear to me recommended it as one of his favourite books, having read it 20 years ago. Read more
Published 26 days ago by quillpen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Would use again
Published 1 month ago by Kindlenovice
1.0 out of 5 stars Over hyped tripe
Can't remember who recommended this book which is probably just as well. Long winded rubbish. Wished I'd never started it & not something I'd recommend.
Published 1 month ago by JKBromley
3.0 out of 5 stars Started promisingly but didn't deliver
I would give this 2 and a half stars were this possible.

I quite enjoyed the first half of this novel, but from about the mid-way point onwards it seemed to become... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Christabelle
5.0 out of 5 stars We shall not cease from exploration..................
The Magus is undoubtedly a book which is going to be most potent for a reader who embarks on its journey when young and unformed, when the sense of the possibility of not only... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lady Fancifull
5.0 out of 5 stars clever stuff
re-ordered it in paper after my last version got soaked on a beach. could not help reading it again. It is John Fowles at his best. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sab19
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the past as I remembered it...
I read this whilst studying for a degree in Literature and was bowled away by it. It existed as a jewel on the horizon behind me as I sailed into my future and older, I wanted to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by DBT
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