THE COLLECTOR by John Fowles


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Ge tells the story first- Ferdinand (ne Frederick) Clegg, the collector ("that's the great dead thing in him") of butterflies, and form Fritillaries and Clouded fellows he goes on to net his finest specimen, Miss Miranda Grey, a soft, lovely twenty year old. But he wants to keep her alive under glass in the cellar of a deserted house two hours from London that he buys to this end. He shops for her, cooks for her, catches her draw (she's an art student), and takes pictures of her (from clothed to au naturel- when chloroformed). Miranda tells the story too, and along with the simultaneity of this experience she goes back to her own life before her captivity and her find of love for an older man attracted by her Primavera innocence. At the same time in the diary she records her attempts to outwit him and get away, from passive resistance o active seduction; there's her loathing of him, of herself, but also her sympathy for her kidnapper-keeper-- "the pity Shakespeare feels for his Caliban" she feels for hers. But most of all, there's her desire to live and her hope to escape-- alive. Well, what does the Rorschach reveal? Not genius, but talent, and as marked an original as you are likely to have read since The Bad Seed or Psycho. And along with all the corribilia (of this lost, sick weirdo and his aberrant sexuality) there's the candidly appealing Miranda; she makes the reader even easier to victimize. Maybe not everybody's book, but fanciers will be fascinated and there is that overwhelming compulsion to read on all night and remember for some time to come. It's a splendid spellbinder.
Pub Date: July 24th, 1963
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1963


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