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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revulsion and Fascination: the power of redeeming love
"A Maggot" is probably the most difficult book of John Fowles difficult opus, and the most philosophical. Its a historical novel like no other. In the 1700s, across a sere English landscape, travellers are journeying for a mysterious purpose... and central to this is the beautiful woman with them, caught in a frustrated love triangle, where noone of the actors truly are...
Published on 18 Sep 2003 by F. Samara

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not the best of fowles
This novel held me gripped for half its length. It then started to move into realms of religious discussion and debate, and a central event which is portrayed in many ways, perhaps finally and most satisfyingly in realistic mode (as at the end of The Magus, there is a realistic - albeit unlikely - explanation for all that has happened). The second part of the novel had...
Published on 21 Jan 2012 by William Jordan


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revulsion and Fascination: the power of redeeming love, 18 Sep 2003
By 
F. Samara (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Maggot (Hardcover)
"A Maggot" is probably the most difficult book of John Fowles difficult opus, and the most philosophical. Its a historical novel like no other. In the 1700s, across a sere English landscape, travellers are journeying for a mysterious purpose... and central to this is the beautiful woman with them, caught in a frustrated love triangle, where noone of the actors truly are as they seem. Their curious deceptions will lead to deaths, heartbreak, social catastrophes and finally redemption. Against this historical knot of manners and accusations, John Fowles shows us unconditional love and its ability to cut through the most complex social problems. The ending brought tears to my eyes. Having said that, it is clear why people are perplexed by Fowles: Given the richness of material, it is startling that we are made to work so hard to unearth the story, for underneath the learned writing the book is a gripping (murder?) mystery and a Pygmalionesque journey of changing selves - every few pages, the plot seems to alter, constantly surprising and challenging the reader. "A Maggot" (an insect larvae, a curiosity, or a traditional jig or dance?) deals with a horrific society, and the way society judged and conspired against the poor and the unconventional in the early years of the Industrial revolution.
Fowles brilliantly evokes an 18th Century world without the pretty images we are used to seeing - the dark underside of Jane Austen's delicate comedies or Merchant Ivory productions. It evokes in our comfortable 20th (and 21st) century minds the feeling of what the world really was like, in all its horror and strangeness, so many hundreds of years ago and, in a neo-feminist way, remains a tribute to the bravery and moral courage of the women who are the true protagonists of the story. Profoundly disturbing and moving.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but unresolved, 29 July 2004
By 
John Ault (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Maggot (Paperback)
John Fowles builds a brilliant sense of mystery, with this mixture of historic novel, detective investigation and science fiction. We are drawn into the mystery of the disappearance of a rich young man, and the difficulty of anyone believing a story of a strange device, which the modern reader can recognise as a alien craft, familiar from film and fiction at least. The characters are well drawn, the mystery laid out. And then the whole books goes wandering around, and never really resolves itself. Good stuff, will make you think, but someone should have told him to rework the ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not the best of fowles, 21 Jan 2012
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This review is from: A Maggot (Paperback)
This novel held me gripped for half its length. It then started to move into realms of religious discussion and debate, and a central event which is portrayed in many ways, perhaps finally and most satisfyingly in realistic mode (as at the end of The Magus, there is a realistic - albeit unlikely - explanation for all that has happened). The second part of the novel had some interest - but much less, for me, than the opening half.

This novel gives us much that is familiar from other novels of John Fowles. Very different perspectives and colourations on life, such as are found in The Collector. A set of events that is unlikely and apparently magical from the standpoint of the central protagonist (as in the The Magus). Multiple stories and indetermination of 'what happened' (as in the French Lieutenant's Woman). All are also present in the much lighter - and very enjoyable - Mantissa.

But whereas the first two novels are, for me, unqualified masterpieces, this is sometimes gripping and sometimes, as I've just, just quite interesting. Not then the place to start in reading Fowles. But not unrewarding.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical novel, detective story and sci-fi, 31 Jan 2001
This review is from: A Maggot (Paperback)
A Maggot has left many a reader silently wondering what to make of it, as the novel is thematically so unlike any of previous author's books. The story leads us to the magical countryside of 17th century South-West England where we meet a strange bunch of travellers who, as we shall soon realise, are not what they seem to be. The most mysterious are the identities of a young nobleman and his deaf and dumb servant. We cannot be sure about the other three people either, although their identities are later revealed. There is a prostitute sometimes acting as a servant, sometimes making the impression of a lady of high birth. There is an elderly actor playing the role of the young nobleman's uncle. And, finally, there is a desperate drunkard and occasional actor, acting as a both braggadocio and miles gloriosus, a figure almost Falstaffian. Their roles have been prescribed by the melancholic nobleman, yet the reader can only speculate as to why and to what purpose. After their arrival to a country pub and several uncanny scenes from the night in the pub, we are told that the deaf servant was found hanged in the wood with a cluster of violets sticking from his mouth. The young nobleman disappears and his companions each follow their pursuits, apparently ignorant of the real reason of their journey. Most of the rest of the book consists of a series of interviews conducted by a lawyer commissioned by the young gentleman's father. The interviews are recorded in the form of dialogues where events are recounted several times and from different points of view. The text, freely mixing elements of the historical novel, detective story and science fiction, grants the reader no definite approach to it. The reader's position is similar to the lawyer's task - to find out what happened and give „an account" of the events. But „giving an account" means to transform the events to a generally comprehensible, rational and univocal language, which is far from being easy. The accounts of individual characters of what „really" happened indicate the elusiveness and indefinite character of the "real" story. The final part of the book is from this perspective a clash of two disparate discourses: one with a compulsion to investigate, clarify, classify and identify and the other that remains true to direct experience and facts as they have been perceived, without trying to transform them to something different. However, John Fowles is well aware of the fact that every view and account of reality is already an interpretation of it. At the end of the book the reader finds out that the text has come a full circle - as opposed to a detective story, there is no solution, but another mystery. If John Fowles had written nothing but this book, he would never became a famous author. The „historical" language is not always convincing, author's „socialism" is now and then a nuisance and the documentary intermezza (about 17th century women's underwear, for instance) are not as functional as they are in French Lieutenant's Woman. But as the whole of Fowles' work is concerned, A Maggot undoubtedly forms its integral and interesting part.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good - then kinda I don't know...., 7 Dec 2013
By 
G. S. Martin "grayyyyyyyyyyyyy" (liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Maggot (Paperback)
This is the most peculiar book I've ever read!
The plot of a strange journey, then Fowles masturbating! An author tryin' be dangerous. Then we'll use avant garde littary skills/buffoonery's... and a big cabbage. Or maybe its a spaceship or a time machine! Maybe: An Inter-dimensional maggot?
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Fowles' best works. The story is so strange, 14 Nov 2014
By 
Lee Wright (East Midlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Maggot (Paperback)
One of Fowles' best works. The story is so strange, so out there. It would have made for an excellent film if done right.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More history than story!!, 30 Aug 2002
By 
D. Dobbs (London) - See all my reviews
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John Fowles the author of this book is (of course) better known for writing 'A French Lieutenant's Woman', but don't let that discourage you. This is a really a book for history students with esoteric taste in literature - the story, conecrning the disppearnce of a noblemans son - is initailly engrossing, although as the book progresses we never progress towards the truth and consequently an ultimate finale is missing. The main thing that strikes you about the book is the detail that has gone into the historical narrative most of which concerns the religious fervour of the period (17th century). As the story grinds forward it is the background details that are brought to the forefront of the novel. The story itself becomes almost irrelevant, and the novel ends with a whimper, certainly not a bang.
Although initially gripping this book is ultimately a disappointment.
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A Maggot
A Maggot by John Fowles
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