The Greatest Novel Ever?

Discussions relating to John Fowles' novel The Magus.

The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby Magusbob on Thu Nov 15, 2007 3:32 pm

I first read The Magus as a 20-year-old college student, and have read it many additional times over the years. I'm convinced it is the greatest novel ever written, and I've heard from others via the web site who share that opinion. Has there ever been a more successful combination of spellbinding plot and literary erudition? I'd like to hear what others have to say about this...
Magusbob
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:50 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby RBFrankenstein on Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:26 pm

Magusbob wrote:I first read The Magus as a 20-year-old college student, and have read it many additional times over the years. I'm convinced it is the greatest novel ever written, and I've heard from others via the web site who share that opinion. Has there ever been a more successful combination of spellbinding plot and literary erudition? I'd like to hear what others have to say about this...


Funny, as I was entering this topic I was thinking "greatest novel ever?" and behold - that's the title of the first post!
That's a tough one though. Greatest novel EVER? Of ALL NOVELS EVER? It's up there, but I find it hard to put ANY novel as the best. It might be easier to make a list of 5 or 10 that are the best without putting them in order.

That being said, I can only think of one novel I might, I said MIGHT, put ahead of The Magus. You guessed it: Frankenstein. :shock:
Okay, am I banned from this site now? :?:

Why Frankenstein? I could go on and on. The first horror novel ever, defined centuries of books, novels, plays, etc. Virtually all gothic and horror owes a debt to Frankenstein.
Also, it's topic is everlastingly relevant - the story of life and death, science vs God, good vs evil, social justice, etc.

I'm sorry I didn't stick to The Magus and the genius of Fowles in my first post! :oops: Do you forgive me?

I LOVE FOWLES!
RBFrankenstein
RBFrankenstein
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:14 pm

Postby Magusbob on Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:26 pm

O.K., let's agree on The Magus as the greatest novel of the 20th Century. How's that? :D
Magusbob
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:50 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby RBFrankenstein on Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:56 pm

How are those novels David mentions more "objectively" better than the Magus? What is objectivity? Does it exist? If so, where? The only place I can find it is in our minds, so that makes objectivity subjective. No?

If you shine a light on anything, if you think about anything, if you look at anything, subjectivity comes into play.

Of course, we can't even subjectively say The Magus is the greatest book without having read them all, which nobody can do. So all we can say is "it's the best book I've ever read." Bob would probably say that. Me? I'd say it's in the top five. Maybe even the top two. Subjectively speaking of course. :lol:

RBF
RBFrankenstein
RBFrankenstein
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:14 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby Magusbob on Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:10 pm

Getting to this rather late, but felt I must respond to David's comments (although I think Rick already stole some of my thunder). I do love The Magus, and it is my all-time favorite book...but I certainly come to this discussion with more than simply having read the book and loved it. I have heard from many, many people through the web site who feel the way I do--that there is something magical and unique about The Magus that can't be found in any other novel. Does that make it the greatest? Obviously it depends on what you mean by "greatest," and as Rick pointed out, this must by very definition be subjective. My feelings are based primarily on a three things:

1) The narrative pace of The Magus surpasses anything else I have ever read--it's impossible to stop reading.

2) Fowles weaves into the plot such an amazing array of ideas and artistic/psychological/mythical references, without bogging it (the plot) down.

3) The book can be read many times over (and again, this isn't just me--I've heard from many who have read it 5, 10, even 20 times) without losing its power and fascination.

BTW, I'm aware that The Magus tends not to appeal as much to the fairer sex. However, I have a good female friend who is approaching 40, and she reads (and loves it) EVERY YEAR.

"We shall not cease from exploration..."
Magusbob
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:50 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby RBFrankenstein on Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:54 pm

Bobaloo!

So you like The Magus, eh? Who woulda guessed it?! :lol:

You make some good points. Point #1 I've run into a number of times, but not combined with the other points.
Except for the GREATEST NOVEL OF ALL TIME: FRANKENSTEIN. :D

Just look at the effect it has had on future novels, movies, and civilization! It's more famous and there is more inspired by it in society than the Beatles!
The imagery is amazing. The underlying themes are far reaching and debated to this day. What is the "spark of life"? What is the "soul"? What is the essence of life, the life force? What is scientific and individual responsibility?
It also encompasses the age old debate about god creating man in his own image and man attempting to do the same, becoming a "god". What responsibility does the creator owe to the creature? Love? Happiness? Security? In his failure to provide these things, Frankenstein is doomed.
On top of all that it is also a treatise on ethics and karma.

It is not the horror story that most people think it is, although it can be regarded as the best horror story ever. It's also the first science fiction novel ever.
It is many stories in one. It's also the story of a man who was a genius beyond his time, beyond all time, who broke through the ultimate limitations of mankind. He strove for a certain kind of transcendence and achieved it. It is about life and death, god and science, societal and personal responsibility,
It is also about prejudice; how a being can be outcast, denied humanity, denied love and society, not because of his actions but merely because of his outward appearance. The "color of his skin" so to speak.
It's about a horrible miracle - man doing god's work.

It's about so many things I could go on and on. Just look at the range of subject matter above. Do you know of any novel that is so complex and profound yet so simple at the same time? It can be read in many ways and dissected (sic!) many ways, and yes, read many times. And it has stood the test of time - nearly two centuries now!

And it was written by a 17 year old girl. Amazing.

I think I'll stop now. I could ramble but then you might get bored and not finish my post :!:

I'm very sorry to announce this, Bob, but I'm afraid I have to put Frankenstein a tad ahead of The Magus on my list if I had a gun to my head and had to choose. But I don't have a gun to my head so I can simply say that Frankenstein and The Magus are at the top of my all time favorite novel list.

RBF
RBFrankenstein
RBFrankenstein
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:14 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby Moylita on Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:27 pm

I'm really replying to the question at the head of this topic, rather than to any particular posts so far.

The whole idea of a "greatest ever" novel is something that's superficially attractive, but you'll never find a consensus. It would never stop. Even if after years of debate, a certain group of people came up with an answer, the following month a new novel would come out and someone somewhere would say, "That one's even better."

But to keep to the subject, for me The Magus probably is the greatest novel ... the key words in that are "for me". That's probably the only way to do it: think what has spoken most clearly to you.

I've read The Magus at least four and possibly five times. The last occasion was in the week after John died, and for the first time I read the Revised edition. Every time I read it, I find more to like; every time I read it I become more aware of its flaws; every time I read it I think again what a truly great novel it is. I have certainly never read any other novel that so gripped me while reading it, nor has lasted so long in my mind as mental furniture. I believe part of its greatness lies in the influence it has. It certainly had a dramatic effect on a whole generation of young people, and a larger but more specialist effect on a small group of writers and film-makers.
Moylita
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:07 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby Rosemary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:57 pm

I'm a 47-year-old member of the 'fair sex' and I love The Magus. It's definately my favourite book of all time. I first read it about 20 years ago when I was working abroad (not a Greek Island).

I've since read it 4 or 5 times, and every year for the past 3 years (on holiday). It's always fresh and completely fascinating to me. I hate it to end.

I came upon this web site by accident when I did search on the quote at the end of the book, as I've never understood how it ended. Did Alison and Nick get back together? I didn't realise so many other people would want to know!

Even though I've read all John Fowles' other novels, The Magus will always be my favourite. So this novel does appeal to some females!!
Rosemary
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:55 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby sheriln on Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:04 pm

Sunday, Mar 1, 2009

I picked up The Magus this morning. Once again. After 30 years sections of it still remain vividly in my mind. I was intrigued by this and went to the website and started reading some of the posts. I thought I would reply since I am a female age 53. I have found The Magus one of the most compelling and fascinating books I have ever read. In my top five of all time and thus for me I consider it one of the greatest novels though I don't think I would crown it greatest novel of all time as after multiple reads it is flawed in some respects. Flawed in my mind in terms of plausibility. Although the unique thing about The Magus is that you want to read it multiple times and each time I have read it I have found something new in it. Also, things that bothered me in previous reads I understood in new ways. It is like a diamond that has new inclusions and perfections each time you tilt it differently to the light. The first read I must admit was the most magical when I was in my early twenties and single in NYC. Very few books have had that intoxicating an effect - propelling me into another world of magic, mystery, eroticism, theater with a taint of something sinister underlying a great secret about to be revealed. Although in my twenties I wasn't sure how I felt about the ending of the book. With reads of the book in subsequent times of my life, I have gotten other things out of it and appreciated the ending more. Each read has brought about a new respect. In the sense that no other book has promoted me to read it and sections multiple times let alone even to have the patience to reread a book, then this book must be one of the greatest novels for me.
Today I found a new passage that really resonates with me and perhaps is one of the secrets of The Magus' enduring quality. And that is this passage,
"...This is because mystery has energy. It pours energy into whoever seeks an answer to it. If you disclose the solution to the mystery you are simply depriving the other seekers...."
sheriln
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:31 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby sheriln on Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:39 pm

Another post regarding The Magus' appeal to women. (Again I'm 53 and female and first read the book in my early twenties.)
It never occurred to me to be irritated by the books 'maleness.' A large part of the fascination of the book was the way Fowles used the main three female characters (Alison, Lily, Rose and even Maria) to express what I thought was a very modern perspective of the feminine mystique at the same time in myriad of eloquent passages delivering and respecting the power of the feminine. The very ending of the book is the final denouement of Nicholas' opening up to a fully equal relationship with Alison. All of the previous era's illusions of female subordination had been torn open and scorched by the masque and the events put in play.
The last words of dialogue are -
"You can't hate someone who's really on his knees. Who'll never be more than half a human being without you."

cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet
sheriln
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:31 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby patricia39 on Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:58 pm

Yes- the novel is so feminist in a way, a masterpiece It captivates me and it is indeed a truly great work of art! I love 'The Magus'- it's not just the novel itself but when you have read it, it keeps you on your toes and bent up in a corner for hours of non-stop reading!
patricia39
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby s. boatright on Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:44 am

To me The Magus' power lies in the point of my personal development in which it was initially read. At the age of twenty there was so much of life yet to be discovered and everything held mystery. The book's mystery was simply better organized, concentrated and focused on Nick, with whom I identified to an extent.

While life still holds mystery for me at the age of fifty, I have a different way of dealing with it. My current sense of the book now gravitates more toward the enigmatic ending and how it is simply perfect (in either edition) and justifies the efforts of Conchis and his followers in enabling/forcing change and growth in Nick and Allison.

Life is about change and personal growth. As I have mentioned before in this media, The Magus is a yardstick of growth for me...and over the timeline of my life, each reading held specific meanings which resonated with my sense of the world at the time the book was read. So those readings, or benchmarks, clearly illustrate my worldview in a way I can understand and it simply takes reading the book again to obtain another measurement.

To my mind The Magus is the greatest novel ever written solely due to its benefit to my life.
s. boatright
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:43 am

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby bobmorton on Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:27 am

I totally agree. The Magus is one of the greatest novels of all time.
bobmorton
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:24 am
Location: Akron, Colorado

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby Locutus7 on Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:59 pm

I consider 5 books as my favorites:

Pride and Prejudice (Jane)

The Magus

The Razor's Edge (Somerset Maugham)

The Sheltering Sky (Paul Bowles)

Macroscope (Piers Anthony) (This is a 1968 sci-fi masterpiece that I suspect will appeal to Magus-lovers. In this case the revised edition is slightly better because of the foreward, written in the 90's if I remember.)

I am an older male and have read all above many times. What is different about The Magus is that each time Iread it, I look at it differently. I first read it in 1967 when I was 17 (based on a review in Playboy), and strongly identified with Nick, and resented how he was manipulated. Over the years, my sympathies began to shift toward Conchis.
Locutus7
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: The Greatest Novel Ever?

Postby Daniel J on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:56 pm

patricia39 wrote:Yes- the novel is so feminist in a way, a masterpiece It captivates me and it is indeed a truly great work of art! I love 'The Magus'- it's not just the novel itself but when you have read it, it keeps you on your toes and bent up in a corner for hours of non-stop reading!



Interesting!
Daniel J
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:48 pm

Next

Return to The Magus

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron