John Fowles

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

Easton Press John Fowles books

The French Lieutenant's Woman - signed modern classic - 1999

Franklin Library John Fowles books

The French Lieutenant's Woman - signed limited edition - 1979
The Collector - signed limited edition - 1982

Writer John Fowles

John Fowles (1926–2005) was an influential and highly regarded English novelist and essayist known for his thought-provoking and often experimental works that challenged traditional narrative conventions. Born on March 31, 1926, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England, Fowles emerged as a prominent figure in post-World War II British literature. Fowles initially pursued a degree in French at the University of Edinburgh but later switched to studying philosophy at New College, Oxford. His academic background in philosophy greatly influenced his writing, as evidenced by the philosophical themes and existential questions that permeate his novels.

In 1963, Fowles achieved widespread acclaim with the publication of his first novel, The Collector. This psychological thriller explores themes of obsession and power dynamics as a lonely clerk kidnaps a young art student. The novel's success established Fowles as a writer with a keen understanding of psychological complexity and an ability to captivate readers with his explorations of human nature. Fowles continued to challenge literary norms with his subsequent works, particularly the highly acclaimed The Magus (1965), which delves into the complexities of identity, reality, and existentialism. The novel, set on a remote Greek island, is known for its intricate narrative structure and the blurred lines between truth and illusion.

One of Fowles' most celebrated works is The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), a historical novel set in Victorian England. This novel not only serves as a compelling love story but also provides a postmodern commentary on storytelling itself, with Fowles occasionally breaking the fourth wall to address the reader.

Throughout his career, Fowles displayed a willingness to experiment with narrative form and challenge conventional storytelling techniques. His interest in philosophy, psychology, and existentialism permeated his works, making them intellectually stimulating and distinct within the literary landscape. Beyond fiction, Fowles expressed his views on literature and society through essays and reflections. His non-fiction work includes The Aristos (1964), a collection of philosophical musings, and Wormholes: Essays and Occasional Writings (1998), a compilation of his non-fiction pieces. John Fowles passed away on November 5, 2005, in Lyme Regis, Dorset, leaving behind a legacy of thought-provoking and innovative literature. His novels continue to be studied and appreciated for their intellectual depth, narrative experimentation, and exploration of the human condition.

Easton Press The French Lieutenant's Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1969 postmodern historical fiction novel by John Fowles. It was his third published novel, after The Collector (1963) and The Magus (1965). The novel explores the fraught relationship of gentleman and amateur naturalist Charles Smithson and Sarah Woodruff, the former governess and independent woman with whom he falls in love. The novel builds on Fowles' authority in Victorian literature, both following and critiquing many of the conventions of period novels.
Following publication, the library magazine American Libraries, described the novel as one of the “Notable Books of 1969”. Subsequent to its initial popularity, publishers produced numerous editions and translated the novel into many languages; soon after the initial publication, the novel was also treated extensively by scholars.
The scene is the village of Lyme Regis on Dorset's Lyme Bay..."the largest bite from the underside of England's out-stretched southwestern leg." The major characters in the love-intrigue triangle are Charles Smithson, 32, a gentleman of independent means & vaguely scientific bent; his fiancée, Ernestina Freeman, a pretty heiress daughter of a wealthy & pompous dry goods merchant; & Sarah Woodruff, mysterious & fascinating...deserted after a brief affair with a French naval officer a short time before the story begins. Obsessed with an irresistible fascination for the enigmatic Sarah, Charles is hurtled by a moment of consummated lust to the brink of the existential void. Duty dictates that his engagement to Tina must be broken as he goes forth once again to seek the woman who has captured his Victorian soul & gentleman's heart.
Perhaps the most beloved of Fowles's internationally bestselling works, The French Lieutenant's Woman is a feat of seductive storytelling that effectively invents anew the Victorian novel. The novel inspired the hugely successful 1981 film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons and is today universally regarded as a modern classic.

The Collector

Withdrawn, 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.
Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller. The Collector is the internationally bestselling novel that captured John Fowles into the front rank of contemporary novelist. This tale of obsessive love the story of a lonely clerk who collects butterflies and of the beautiful young art student who is his ultimate quarry remains unparalleled in its power to startle and mesmerize. 

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