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John Fowles (1926 – 2005)


English novelist and essayist.
John Fowles
All good science is art. And all good art is science.
Fowles quotes
We were equally tired, in mid-century, of cold sanity and hot blasphemy; of the over-cerebral and of the over-faecal; the way out lay somewhere else. Words had lost their power, either for good or for evil; still hung, like a mist, over the reality of action, distorting, misleading, castrating; but at least since Hitler and Hiroshima they were seen to be a mist, a flimsy superstructure.
Fowles
A novelist has to enter deeper exile still. In most outward ways the experience was depressive, as many young would-be writers and painters who have ever gone to Greece have discovered. We used to have a nickname for the sense of inadequacy and accidie it produced – the ‘Aegean blues’. One has to be a very complete artist to create good work among the purest and most balanced landscapes on the planet…The Greece of the Islands is Circe still; no place for the artist-voyager to linger long, if he cares for his soul.




Fowles John quotes
She had a kind of genius for picking the wrong man. She always looked for poetry and passion and sensitivity, the whole romantic kitchen, whereas I lived by a simpler diet, prose and pudding. I don’t expect attractive men to have attractive souls.
Fowles John
The writing was impeccably neat and legible though rather crabbed into the centre of the page; I saw a neat crabbed man behind it. Presumably some sort of retreat, one of those desiccated young Catholics that used to mince around Oxford when I was an undergraduate.
John Fowles quotes
Utram bibis? Aquam an undam?
John Fowles
"I did not like the colonel at all. He had eyes like razors…the eyes of a machine. An educated machine… I realised he was drinking less than we were…And that he was playing with me. That he was a realist… Also that Anton was careless with his tongue..."
Fowles John quotes
There’s a card in the Tarot pack called The Magus. The magician, conjuror. Two of his traditional symbols are the lily and the rose.
Fowles
I was born in 1927, the only child of middle-class parents, both English, and themselves born in the grotesquely elongated shadow, which they never rose sufficiently above history to leave, of that monstrous dwarf Queen Victoria. (Opening Sentence) Ch. 1, p. 1
Fowles John
It must essentially remain a novel of adolescence written by a retarded adolescent.
John Fowles
I am talking about the general psychological health of the species, man. He needs the existence of mysteries, not their solution.




John Fowles quotes
I was not a poet. I felt no consolation in this knowledge, but only a red anger that evolution could allow such sensitivity and such inadequacy to coexist in the same mind. In one ego, my ego, screaming like a hare caught in a gin.
John Fowles
The artefacts (sic) of a genius are distinguished by rich human content, for which he forges new images and new techniques, creates new styles. He sees himself as a unique eruption in the desert of the banal. He feels himself mysteriously inspired or possessed. The craftsman, on the other hand, is content to use the traditional materials and techniques. The more self-possessed he is, the better craftsman he will be. What pleases him is skill of execution. He is very concerned with his contemporary success, his market value. If a certain kind of political commitment is fashionable, he may be committed; but out of fashion, not conviction. The genius, of course, is largely indifferent to contemporary success; and his commitment to his ideals, both artistic and political, is profoundly, Byronically, indifferent to their contemporary popularity.
Fowles quotes
If you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did.
Fowles John
There are people who have an instinctive yet perfect moral judgment, who can perform the most complex ethical calculations like an Indian peasant can sometimes perform astounding mathematical feats in a matter of seconds. Lily was such a person. I craved her approval.
Fowles John quotes
I hated myself. I had created nothing, I belonged to nothingness, to the néant, and it seemed to me that my own death was the only thing that I could create; and still, even then, I thought it might accuse everyone who had ever known me. It would validate all my cynicism, it would prove all my solitary selfishness; it would stand, and be remembered, as a final dark victory.
John Fowles
I still couldn’t accept that this was not some nightmare, like some freak misbinding in a book, a Lawrence novel become, at the turn of a page, one by Kafka.
John Fowles quotes
"You sound like a certain kind of surgeon. A lot more interested in the operation than the patient." "I should not be in the hands of a surgeon who did not take that view."
John Fowles
Duty largely consists of pretending that the trivial is critical. Ch. 18
Fowles John
"I played him the Goldberg Variations. If one wishes to reduce a sensitive German to tears there is no surer lachrymatory."


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