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The Magus [Paperback]

John Fowles
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Feb 1997
A novel which explores the complexities of the human mind. On a remote Greek island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. Surreal threads weave ever tighter as reality and illusion intertwine in a bizarre psychological game.


Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New ed of 2 Revised ed edition (13 Feb 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099743914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099743910
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 441,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'An astonishing achievement' Anthony Burgess --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb, engrossing, wonderful novel 8 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book ruined my holiday !
Once I started to read it the temptation to carry on was far bigger than the desire to visit any of the delights Sri Lanka had to offer ! (Well, no, not really but its quite a good line...)
Fowles has created a wonderful story as we are transported from a dreary England to a brilliant Greek island and from there round and round in circles as Fowles weaves his magic. By the mid point in the book I was convinced I'd figured it out - I then realised I was completely wrong.
There are some truly thought-provoking moments, some very funny bits and some parts are simply great writing.
The ending is a bit of an anti-climax as nothing is really resolved. Or on the other hand is a continuation of the uncertainy from earlier. Or maybe the whole point is not to understand ? Buy this if you like mind games, if you liked the film The Game or if you like making up your own endings !
I haven't been this engrossed in a book since Lord of the Rings
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Would use again
Published 8 days 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 20 days 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 2 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 2 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 6 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 7 months ago by NaWiWei
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