Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Fowles, John

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(1926-2005) UK writer whose first novel, The Collector (1963), and his third, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), became well known movies. His second novel, The Magus (1965 US: rev 1977 UK), also filmed – as The Magus (1968) – is of strong fantasy interest, though in its final outcome proves to be a nonfantastic Godgame. The venue and the broad plot are based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest (performed circa 1611; 1623): to an Island dominated by a mysterious Prospero figure is called a callow young man, who falls in love with a Miranda figure and finds himself increasingly lost in an intricate psychic Labyrinth, a tangle of Perceptions that prove illusory, a knot he can untie only through self-knowledge, through a knowledge of which Story is dictating his being. The term "godgame" seems to have been invented by JF, whose draft title for The Magus was "The Godgame".

Later novels and tales tend intermittently to convey a similar doubleness of texture. Mantissa (1982), for instance, evokes the Goddess in modernized Muse aspects through veils of narrative dissembling. A Maggot (1986) conveys some of the same pressure of revelation. JF is an author who tells fantasy writers and readers what fantasy can aspire to. [JC]

John Robert Fowles


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.