The Collector by John Fowles
Boston : Little, Brown and Company, 1963. First American Edition. Stated. Hardcover. 305 pages ; 22 cm. $4.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Date marking on front free endpaper. No other markings elsewhere. Pages are age toned. Binding is firm.
RARELY DOES A PUBLISHER INTRODUCE A NOVEL OF SUCH DEVASTATING POWER.
WE INVITE YOU TO OPEN TO THE FIRST PAGE OF THE COLLECTOR.
WE BELIEVE YOU WILL BE COMPELLED TO READ ON.
He tells the story first — Frederick Clegg, an obscure little clerk and a collector of butterflies who one day goes on to net his finest specimen, Miss Miranda Grey, a soft, lovely twenty-year-old.
In his colorless yet curiously expressive words, he tells of the months in which he stood by the office window and watched for the beautiful Miranda whenever she was home from art school. Then Frederick Clegg suddenly wins a fortune in a football pool and devises an ingenious way to make his dream come true:
I thought, I can't get to know her in the ordinary way, but if she's with me, she'll see my good points, she'll understand. There was always the idea she would understand. I only wanted to do the best for her, make her happy and love me a bit.
He buys a secluded country house and, when all preparations have been made, kidnaps Miranda from outside her apartment in London. The body of the novel concerns the two months during which Miranda is held prisoner in the cellar of the house. The story is revealed first as he tells it, then as she secretly records it in a diary which begins:
It's the seventh night.
Deep down I get more and more frightened. It's only surface calm.
Waking up is the worse thing. I wake and for a moment I think I'm at home or at Caroline's. Then it hits me.
I don't care what he does. So long as I live.
It's all the vile unspeakable things he could do.
Power. It's so real. Try try try to escape. It's all I think of.
A remarkable feat of imagination, THE COLLECTOR is a novel of disquieting perception whose cumulative effect is all too memorable.
Jacket design by Tom Adams Photograph by John Alexander Photos Ltd.
John Fowles was born in Essex, England, in 1926. After serving-as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines at the end of the war, he read French at Oxford. He took a job as a teacher in France for a while, and then went to live in Greece. He is now head of the English Department at a large London college, and lives with his wife in Hampstead.
In his spare time he writes poetry and collects old books and old china. He is now working on his second novel, which is set in Greece.
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