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In his prologue, John Fowles tells us that "A Maggot" began as a vision he had of five travellers riding with mysterious purpose through remote countryside. This image gives way to another - a hanging corpse with violets stuffed in its mouth - which leads us into a maze of beguiling paths and wrong turnings, disappearances and revelations, unaccountable motives and cryptic deeds, as this compelling mystery swerves towards a starling vision at its centre.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099480419
ISBN-10: 0099480417
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 29mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Nov-1996
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Fowles calls his new novel, which basically is homage to the philosophical underpinnings of Shakerism and to the moral narratives of Defoe, "a maggot": a 17th-century-style working-out of an obsessive theme. In length and relative linearity, the book is just that. The fictional kernel is small: the strange journey of an English lord, his deaf/dumb valet, and ex-whore maid and two other ancillaries that results in a scene of revelation enacted in a cave; then death, disappearance, and legal reconstruction of the happening. The lord's father hires a lawyer - and most of the book is composed of this lawyer's interrogatories with the surviving participants, namely the ex-whore, now named Rebecca and become a mystic (and the mother-to-be of Anne Lee, the founder of Shakerism). Conducted wholly in period English, these depositions have an eloquence and pith that are impressive. Less so are Fowles' buttings-in in modern language, during which he comments from the vantage point of a later age on Rebecca's salvationism, its mixtures of pure feminism and communism and fervor. In the questions and answers of the lawyer and Rebecca, these ideas have drama, but when Fowles steps back to gloss them, they curl up ("In truth these two were set apart from each other not only by countless barriers of age, sex, class, education, native province and the rest, but by something far deeper still: by belonging to two very different halves of the human spirit, perhaps at root those, left and right, of the two hemispheres of the human brain"), and they are as pungent as commentary on educational TV. Though the dogged antiqueness of it all may put some readers off, it's the very virtuoso power of the language - the ideas in context - that makes the novel interesting. Once Fowles dusts the ideas off and puts them plain in his own voice, they seem unremarkable. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - John Fowles

John Fowles won international recognition with The Collector, his first published title, in 1963. He was immediately acclaimed as an outstandingly innovative writer of exceptional imaginative power. This reputation was confirmed with the appearance of his subsequent works including The Aristos, The Magus, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Ebony Tower, Daniel Martin, Mantissa and A Maggot. John Fowles died in 2005.

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