Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm re-reading John Fowles' The Magus some 9 or 10 years later, hoping that with some wisdom and life experience in me since the last time I read it, it will make sense to me. I picked it up with the intention to re-read it, coincidentally, the day before Fowles died. (The character Conchis in the book would make meaning out of that). I'm a little bit more than halfway through it and in many ways it does make more sense to me now, though what's so brilliant about the book is that it keeps the reader as befuddled and uncertain as the character Nicholas; you are never quite sure if you should believe anything in a literal way.

The content of the book crept into my dreams and really into my sleep itself, for every time I woke up last night, and I woke up more than three times, I found myself asking a question about the book's meaning. "Is it about how we want to know God? We want God to be the perfect host, providing us with mystery, love, sex and beauty, but as soon as we want to understand WHY God is creating this, the spell is broken?" Then later, "It's about how Nicholas--who is any young, unrealized man, really--wants to believe in the illusion, the fantasy more than he wants reality, because reality is so terribly mundane, but it's also the only place he'll find salvation from himself." (This one I relate to, I have to admit). Then again later, "The book is just a metaphor on life--we think we know why we're here and what our purpose is, but then we just as easily slip into despair that there is no meaning, and no purpose."

It was a very metaphysical night.

Then I've been having these bizarre dreams. About being held captive because a store clerk thought I'd stolen a package of tic-tacs. About rifling through strange photos of a person I know very little who then wanted to get to know me better...just some weird stuff. I think it's all Magus-inspired.

Plus, I really want to see the apparently horrible 1968 movie version of The Magus, which Fowles himself wrote the screenplay for, but I can't seem to find it on DVD. It's a shame too, because it's got Michael Caine, Candace Bergen and Anthony Quinn in it. I read on a Fowles website that someone suggested a remake starring Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley and Charlize Theron. I'd see it.

Anyway... if you have thoughts on The Magus, please share them here.

JPR

6 Comments:

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

My parents told me they named me after a character in The Magus, but I've yet to find a Stephanie in there. Did you see a Stephanie in there? I think I'm misnamed.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Sorry love, I think they lied to you, or else borrowed a character who makes one appearance so brief I don't even remember it.

Maybe they meant "Gift of the Magi." :)

 
At 6:01 PM, Blogger J said...

I read that book twice in my early twenties. I really liked it but I never understood the ending and it was really frustrating. I felt like an idiot. If you figure it out, let me know.

 
At 9:40 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

J: Read it again. I read it in my early twenties and didn't get it either, or rather, wasn't sure I got it. But now I do. It's clearly a book best read with a little experience under one's belt.

 
At 7:01 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

My parents lied about a lot of things. We won't go there.

 
At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read this book at least three times. The first time I was mesmerized (early 20's) with the psycho sexual and classical stuff. The second time (mid 40's) I think it started to make sense. Just finished reading it again today (at 60 ) and it makes the most sense. But at times I am still confused - all that talk about truth and freedom. The simple truth is, we live our lives, screw up, spend times looking back at our mistakes and other times moving forward. Then, we die. Maybe back in 1965 because of the psychedelic era Fowles was exploring the limits of the human mind - who knows. Anyway its still a good book and I think it would make a great remake in 2017. Cant wait for somebody to remake this film and make it a little more clear cut with the psycho sexual angle. I am thoroughly confused over this.

 

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