What is the difference between the original and the revised?

Discussions relating to John Fowles' novel The Magus.

What is the difference between the original and the revised?

Postby solaris2001 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:00 am

Hello Magusbob (or anyone else),
I am a Japanese fan of Fowles. I understand English little. So, if my words are inpolite, forgive me.
In Japan, The Magus Revised was not translated into Japanese. I would like to know the difference
between the original and the revised. Please tell me that in short words, if you can.
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Re: What is the difference between the original and the revised?

Postby Magusbob on Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:09 am

As Fowles states in his forward to the revised version, the two primary differences between it and the original are:

1) The erotic scenes are more explicit. When Fowles was writing the original version in the 1950s, he didn't think he could get away with this.

2) The ending is somewhat less ambiguous. Fowles heard so many "what happened?" complaints when the book first came out that he decided to change the ending slightly (for more on this, see the "Translating the last lines of The Magus" page on the site).

If you can try to read the new forward (or get someone to translate it for you), that will give you all the details on why he revised The Magus from Fowles himself.
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Re: What is the difference between the original and the revised?

Postby recursive prophet on Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:37 pm

The main significant difference I recall between the 2 versions was that in the revised version Nicolas actually made love with Lilly before being kidnapped for the trial, while in the original she let them in before any consummation of his desire. I figured such frustration was simply too great for an American audience, where immediate gratification is the default. I found the original, including the more ambiguous ending, better, though as Fowles pointed out the changes were so small it wasn't really a true revision.

A question for MagusBob. Does this site have any relationship with the earlier one of a few years back? If so were any of the original posts from that time saved? Just curious. I had some interesting exchanges with other Fowles fans back then.
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Re: What is the difference between the original and the revised?

Postby Magusbob on Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:50 am

Yes, this is probably the same site that you saw a few years ago. At that time I had an e-mail board through which Fowles fans could connect, but actual messages were private and not posted. If you needed to contact someone who was listed on the board, it's possible I could find them in an archived version of the site.
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Re: What is the difference between the original and the revised?

Postby JK5 on Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:06 am

I just reread both versions back to back this month. Besides Lily actually having sex with Nicholas and the ending changes, the main difference is Lily becomes Julie on the very next day of meeting Nicholas. Lily/Julie has more scenes and sister Rose/June also plays a bigger role. One thing I like about the revised version is Lily/Rose spin more tales to Nicholas and keep him second guessing more than in the original.

Having read the original first in 1978, I was surprised to find Lily consummating the act with Nicholas in the revised. At first I thought it was good that he never actually possessed her and then had to watch her give herself to Joe, the ultimate rival. It was a total rejection. But now I think it was good that she did give herself to Nicholas in the revised. First, because it fulfills her role as 'sacred prostitute' initiating Nicholas, secondly, because Nicholas feels used and even more betrayed by Lily after having once 'possessed' her. She has acted like he has done with his conquests. Finally, it aligns with what Mrs. de Sietas later tells Nicholas about Conchis' idea that sex is just another pleasure and NOT the better part of love. When Nicholas asks Mrs. de Sietas "Why did she let me make like to her?" Mrs. de Sietas answers, "I imagine to teach you that sexual pleasure and moral responsibility are two very different things."

It's unclear whether Nicholas has learned to love at the end of the book. In the original, he shows himself rather unchanged and angry, very much like a hardheaded man living in the 1950s. In the revised ending, Nicholas is a little more understanding and tells Allison he is man on his knees. He is more like a man who has lived through the social changes of the 1960s. However, to me it is quite apparent that Allison is willing to take him back in both versions. In the original, she has traces of a smile after he slaps her. In the revised, she runs after twice. When asked why she ran, she answers "You know why." "No," he says. She says "I knew within two seconds after seeing you." That they will try again is not for Fowles the big question. For him, as he states at the beginning of that last chapter is will they stay together. One thing Nicholas has learned is his actions have consequences and he now knows he must consider his choices before he acts and cause no unnecessary pain.
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