The Collector by John Fowles

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book titleWithdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

The Collector is a 1963 thriller novel by English author John Fowles, in his literary debut. Its plot follows a lonely, psychotic young man who kidnaps a female art student in London and holds her captive in the cellar of his rural farmhouse. Divided in two sections, the novel contains both the perspective of the captor, Frederick, as well as that of Miranda, the captive.

A dozen different schools of thought in literary criticism are chloroformed and bundled into the back of a van. The van is driven to a remote cottage and the literary theories are put into a room in the cellar. They are told to argue the meaning of The Collector by John Fowles with the last man standing given their freedom whilst the other theories must stay captive.

After a week the cellar door is opened, a fog of cigar smoke immediately cascades through the door; Freudian literary theory stands alone triumphant.

‘Alles klar. The author’s hatred of his Mutti and Papa is well documented. Herr Fowles saw his parents as philistines, he voz disgusted by their lack of taste and horrified by zer suburban crassness.'

Miranda‘The hatred for die Eltern manifests itself in the dull, dangerous and uncultured Frederick Clegg who is obsessed with possessing the beautiful, caring and cultivated Miranda. However, when he achieves this ambition he realises that he does not understand the subject of his obsession which leads to Fredrick’s anger, confusion and unhappiness.'

Freudian literary theory leaves the cellar, walks up the stairs but when trying to open the front door finds that it is locked. He is told that whilst the other literary theories have been set free he must stay prisoner. He returns to the cellar room where eleven different literary theories are being held against their will. They are told to argue the meaning of The Collector by John Fowles with the last man standing given their freedom whilst the other theories must stay captive.

FowlesAgain, Freudian literary theory triumphs but as he tries to open the front door it is again locked. The other theories are set free whilst the Freudian literary theory returns to the cellar where another group of different literary theories are being kept. Freudian literary theory deduces that he must fail in his argument to be set free. Yet a week later he finds himself triumphant in his arguments and finds himself unable to open the front door. The other theories are set free whilst he returns to the cellar: ad infinitum, ad absurdum.

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Submitted by Tom in Drumcondra Library.

 

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