Questions re The Magus

Discussions relating to John Fowles' novel The Magus.

Questions re The Magus

Postby nandagrey on Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:25 am

Magusbob (or anyone else) I would be interested to know your opinion on a couple of incidents in The Magus. At the end of the novel Mitford tells Nicholas that Conchis "did a deal with the Germans. Personally organised the shooting of 80 villagers." Is this the 'true' version do you think as opposed to Conchis's?
and rather banally I'm interested to know if you think Nicholas and Alison stayed together? (I do not)
:)
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Magusbob on Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:34 am

On the first question, I think it's fairly clear that Mitford had a grudge against Conchis (based on the way Conchis and the girls humiliated him), and thus had a reason to badmouth Conchis to Nicholas. I think Conchis was essentially telling the truth in the autobiographical wartime sections.

Regarding the ending, please see the "Translating the last lines of The Magus" page on the web site for some insight. The Greek quotation at the end of the novel seems to indicate a happy resolution for Nicholas and Allison, and from what I know of Fowles' love for the book and identification with the characters, I think that would have been his preferred aftermath. Many years ago when I met with Fowles at his home in Lyme Regis, I asked him about the ending but he just smiled and shook his head...confirmation of what he had said in the past: it's up to the reader to come up with his or her own interpretation.
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Nicholas on Thu May 29, 2008 3:21 am

Hi everyone,

My question is 'has anyone ever gotten to the bottom of whether Mr Fowles was involved in a masque of some sort like that of Conchis's?'
I know that for a good part of the masque he was influenced by other books as he states in his foreword, but what of the possibility that he was involved with some sort of Greek 'mysteries' group too?

The reason I ask is because I believe there are a group of people conducting Conchis-like activities :shock:
I've been searching over the internet to get an answer to my question and came across references to The Magus for an organisation called Neurocam (.com), but this seems to have now been reinvented to an organisation calling itself Yellow-1 (.org). Are these a fan group? Has anybody else investigated them? :?
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Mare Nostrum on Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:30 am

"by David Loftus on Sat Apr 26, 2008 12:44 am

Intellectually, I think Fowles would take a strongly neutral stance: it could have gone either way; the answer is up to the reader."

Well, in some sense, unless it's written in the published book, it's definitely up to the reader. But the other part is contradicted by facts. In the seventh paragraph of his Foreward to the 1977 version, Fowles referred to his "preferred aftermath", said he thought it was fairly clear in the first edition, but accepted reader criticism and thus explained how he tried to make it even more clearly "declared" in the newer edition. It's right there in black and white. Also, while it's titillating that MagusBob had an interview with him, the fact that he wouldn't up or down state the ending during that interview is exactly meaningless. I read some strong words Fowles used about his readers, how endlessly they wanted to talk to him, spend time, and how it was an ordeal for him. He described himself as cantankerous, obviously didn't want to be asked for the 400,000th time, and didn't want to go on record. Plus every answer is a kind of death, like he says. (He also states that the last two lines provide a key, and Bob rightly focused on those.)

From this we know four things: (1) Fowles has an outcome irrespective of how we feel, (2) he think's it's clear in the first book and clearer in the second, and (3) since he isn't talking (and now deceased), we'd better find the answer in the book if we can, (4) those lines (within the book's context) in his mind contain the answer. And don't put stock in the jovial blarney about how he gave two different answers to readers (one of whom approached him antagonistically); remember, "cantankerous." It's been pointlessly quoted far too often already.
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Magusbob on Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:26 pm

A quick comment on the idea, which appears above and elsewhere frequently, that Fowles was a cantankerous misanthrope who at best tolerated his fans. He himself at times sometimes promoted this image of himself, and--like most famous people--I'm sure he disliked having strangers simply knock on his door out of the blue. But based on my visit to his home, the times I met him during his U.S. tours, and stories I've heard from MANY other fans who wrote, met or visited him, he was actually quite friendly and gracious. Anyone who reads the Journals can see that Fowles was a complicated man who had many positive and negative traits, and I think there were times when, in his mind, he had a very arrogant and dismissive view of almost everyone who was not him: readers, fans, critics, etc. But the man himself, in person, was actually quite nice and seemed to have a good heart.
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Mare Nostrum on Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:02 am

I'd like to hear answers, from anyone interested and certainly MagusBob if possible, upon the first reading, as phony story after phony story about was really happending broke down,

Did you begin to suspect that the dearly departed Alison was working with "them"?

Just curious.
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Magusbob on Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:26 pm

Fowles had me totally hoodwinked the first time I read The Magus...so no, I never suspected that Alison was working for Conchis, or was alive for that matter. There is some question as to exactly when she becomes part of the game. I think it's fairly certain that she's recruited after the blow-up with Nicholas in Athens, although it's never made clear how long after that event. However, in the film version (screenplay by Fowles), a mysterious man knocks on her hotel room door after the argument and says "Miss...we want to help."
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby james1 on Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:40 am

I have just started reading the book again, after a gap of many years. I am trying to take it very slowly and absorb everything. It has always been my beleif that Alison was always aware of what was happening to Nicholas. After all she knew the twins. so surely it couldn't have been a coincidence that she turned up where Nicholas lived, could it? My question is, when was Nicholas 'targeted'--when he placed the ad in the magazine, or after when he applied for the job at the school? Anyone have any views/ideas on this topic?
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Re: Questions re The Magus

Postby Magusbob on Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:32 pm

James,

I think I can answer your questions, if not definitively (only Fowles could have done that), at least with a certain degree of confidence. Alison did not enter "The Game" until after she and Nicholas had the huge argument in Athens. Fowles clarifies this in his own screenplay for the 1968 film, when a mysterious man knocks on her hotel room door after Nicholas leaves and says "Miss, we want to help." She was already living in the flat above where Nicholas moved in at the beginning of the book--it was random chance that he met her. She didn't meet Mrs. DeSeitas or her daughters until after she was recruited by Conchis.

As for Nicholas, I believe Conchis probably told the recruiter for the teaching position what sort of person (a young unmarried man) he wanted. Nicholas applying for the job was again random chance. Obviously some of the "candidates" that Conchis got didn't work out (Mitford), while others like Nicholas turned out to be perfect.

Bob
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