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The Magus (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

John Fowles
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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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: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A major work of mounting tensions in which the human mind is the guinea-pig... Mr Fowles has taken a big swing at a difficult subject and his hits are on the bull's eye" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A deliciously toothsome celebration of wanton story-telling" (Sunday Times)

"A splendidly sustained piece of mystification" (Financial Times)

"One of those that's best read as a teenager, but once read you'll never forget it" (Katy Guest The Independent)

Book Description

'An astonishing achievement' Anthony Burgess

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The conjuror’s greatest illusion 23 Feb 2004
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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134 of 138 people found the following review helpful
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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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fourth read - 25 years on. How stands the hill? 30 Sep 2003
I have just read the Magus again, for the first time in about 7-8 years. It's the fourth time I've read the book now and I enjoy the different perspectives I get from it in relation to my own life experiences and how the book, its characters, incidents and themes now plays against the world we currently live in.
I've commented before on my general views of this book and the considerable effect it has had on me over the years. Rather than go over old ground in my reflections of it, I'd like to encapsulate my reactions to it as a reader in summer 2003, at the age of 47; about 25 years after I first read it.
Several things stand out:
For the first time it reads as a period novel. Not surprising given that it was published close on 40 years ago and takes place exactly 50 years ago. I say this not as a criticism; it is in fact all the better for it.
Reading it this time, I realised forcibly how the influence of political correctness has really taken hold of writing and thinking over the last decade. There are parts of The Magus that you know would simply not have been written as they are if first published today. This is no bad thing; I'm not entirely in favour of all aspects of PC (to quote Conchis, it needs to 'learn to smile'); but Nicholas's reactions to race and women in particular now brand him so much a creature of his time in ways that hadn't fully struck me before. His constant references to Joe as the 'Negro', his frequent intimidation and even violence towards women; these aspects for the first time conjure up a culturally far-away world - making The Magus now very much a novel of its time, despite the undoubted timelessness and universality of most of its themes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 17 days 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 22 days 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 2 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 2 months ago by DBT
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book.
Bought a used copy as a gift. Would HIGHLY recommend this book and the condition of the book was as described. No complaints.
Published 2 months ago by tomk1583
5.0 out of 5 stars Most memorable novel I've read
This book has been a favourite of mine for more years than I can remember. I must have read it at least 7 or 8 times, and some day I intend to read the original and the revised... Read more
Published 2 months ago by TONY1941
1.0 out of 5 stars Many hours of my life wasted reading this book that I will not get...
oh dear... I got this book as it was in the top 100 books to read and I was curious as I had not heard of it before.. I genuinely wish I had not bothered! Its a very long book! Read more
Published 4 months ago by JT
3.0 out of 5 stars Two and a half stars
I read this book at the age of seventeen and thought it one of the greatest things I had even come across. Read more
Published 5 months ago by NaWiWei
1.0 out of 5 stars Over intellectualised neo-Jungian obscure ramblings
Over intellectualised neo-Jungian obscure ramblings that extend over 650 pages and terminate in an annoyingly inconclusive bit of Latin verse that annoyed me all the more for... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nigel Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best books of the twentieth century (maybe - in my opinion...
John Fowles holds up a mirror to middle classes ~ an ugly sight - worse as I see my self staring back...
Published 8 months ago by IanH1965
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