This book first came to my attention randomly when I worked in a used book store, and it became one of those rare books I'll never let go of. It's the story of a rather dull, self-righteous, tedious British clerk whose only joys in life are collecting butterflies and keeping a close eye on a lovely art student he follows, yet has never met. When he wins the British equivalent of the lottery, he decides that he will add the girl (Miranda) to his collection.
The book is divided into three parts, beginning with Clegg's POV, switching to Miranda, and finally back to Clegg. Most terrifying is Clegg's complete indifference, indeed ignorance, to/of his evils. At no time does he feel he has done anything wrong; instead, he constantly bemoans and resents Miranda's attempts to escape. Much like Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates's first person novel loosely based on Dahmer, the reader is almost sucked into the narrator's warped logic. One's head clears a bit when reading Miranda's point of view, which the reader begins to understand her fear, claustrophobia, and crushing desperation to escape.
Simply, one of the most beautiful and terrifying novels I Have ever read. I've often wondered how many Calibans I have known in my life and passed by. Incidentally, this book has served as quite the inspiration to several serial killers, including Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, perpetrators of "Operation Miranda." Literally a modern classic
I won't give away any spoilers but you will surely know before starting this book that it is about the complex, fascinating, perverted relationship between a stalker, Clegg and his victim, Miranda.
Fowles gets into the mind of both characters and drags the reader on an extremely vivid, gripping and uncomfortable journey. I found myself feeling simultaneous sympathy and hatred for Clegg as well as an outraged sense of horror and, of course, sympathy for Miranda. This is a masterful literary creation, not pleasant but a powerful and honest exploration of some aspects of humanity which we rarely face. I found the ending particularly good as Clegg's mentality evolves and crystallises.
Many of the reviewers have complained that it gets boring in the second half. I partly agree. There is a lot that could be dismissed as pretentious art-talk, but I think Fowles is doing several things. He is highlighting the extraordinary contrast in the perceptions of these two people whose lives revolve entirely around each other, he is showing that Miranda is herself acutely flawed, and he is showing that GP is (nearly) as selfish and destructive as Clegg.
In 'The Collector', John Fowles explores the mind of a stalker who has the chance to make his fantasies come true. Throughout the novel, Frederick Clegg is likened to Caliban, from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest': stumbling ineptly after the object of his affections, and never managing to attract her or interest her. Winning some money gives Frederick the chance to kidnap and imprison Miranda, and we then see him attempt to fulfil his desires. Frederick's character is both eerie and fascinating. There is a constant power struggle going on between him and Miranda. She is beautiful, well educated, confident, inspired, artistic - everything he is not, and although he is physically imprisoning her, he can't understand her. This frustrated desire to get inside her head undermines his capture of her, and at the same time, she is attempting to understand him, in order to be free. The relationship between the two characters is very well written, constantly changing and unpredictable. Miranda, as the saner of the two, is easy to identify with, and yet the reader is also taken deeply inside Frederick's head as well. Again, it's an uneasy relationship between the reader and Frederick, as one hopefully doesn't support his actions(!), and yet the tone of his narration implies that the reader does. A very unsettling effect. All in all, an excellent read, with an ending that will send shivers down your spine!
My first Fowles. Not my last. A remarkable book, unusual book. It has a strange combination of themes and plot, and Fowles works them together superbly. It's not always an easy book to read - at times, yes, I felt a degree of sympathy for lonely, inhibited, crushingly socially inept Frederick, but as the novel progresses, and we get the second strand from captured Miranda's point of view, that he is completely monstrous becomes abundantly clear. It is possible to understand him, but that makes the final sections of the novel no less horrifying and affecting. Inevitable, too. The reader probably has as much desperate hope as Miranda. As a psychological study of two people, with all their various roles in life and in the context of one another, it is supremely good. The two differing styles are brilliantly conceived, and power the novel along nicely. It's clever, very affecting, and the ending is moving and vaguely horrifying. It's rather like some of Ruth Rendell's similar psychological thrillers. I reccomend it very highly.
I am amazed there are not more reviews on this. I first read this almost 20 years ago (god that makes me feel ancient!)and have read it at leat five times since. Even though I know what is going to happen it still sucks me in and the eeriness of the main character Fredrick is truly spine tingling.
This is a twisted psychological tale. It manages to grip and scare you without resorting to shock tactics. Forget novels who rely on gruesome (and ridiculous) murders and unbelievable plots. This is a masterpiece in suspense writing.
Fredrick Clegg is the most chilling character yet so real. Another beauty of John Fowles writing is the confusion you feel towards the victim Miranda. Despite her desperate situation you at times feel more sympathy for her abductor until the it flips back the other way leaving you exhausted!
The last pages are truly shocking and this book stays with you long after you have finished. I hope I haven't been to vague - I try not to give to much away but at the same time I desperatley want to say enough to make you read this book! Only reason why I have not reviewd before is that I assumed it would have been reviewd within an inch of it's life! PS Don't let John Fowles other novels put you off - I didn't get on with any of them - The Collector is truly unique.
Relentlessly disturbing tale of a disturbed loner who captures the woman he has been idolising from afar in the vain hope that she will eventually fall in love with him. Creepy, atmospheric and utterly absorbing; I highly recommend this.