Monday, December 17, 2007

Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century Quest: #93

Title: The Magus
Author: John Fowles
Judgin' The Book By Its Cover: Ugh, I hate this cover. Purple and red? Yuck.

Thoughts: It's been a long, long time (read: 10 years or so) since I've finished a book and really not known what it was about (although, I know for certain that I read Nightwood during a time of intense insomnia in my life, but I can't remember a thing about it-- not one thing!).
But I had the distinct pleasure of struggling through this nearly 700-page book just to walk away confused. The story is about a young British womanizer who takes a position teaching English at a school on a remote Greek island. He meets an enigmatic millionaire with a penchant for the dramatic and quickly loses his bearings in a complicated world of deceit and intrigue. The plot takes turn after turn after turn, and I didn't have the patience to follow the unlikable characters through the labyrinthine plot. Moreover, the story is deeply rooted in metaphor and literary allusion, very little of which I could decipher. I'm not a total doofus, but I don't have the classical education (or extensive understanding of French, Latin, and Greek, large passages of which are left untranslated) that's necessary to get every reference. Unfortunately, I finished the book feeling unsure of what the point was and feeling disappointed that my toil was all for naught.

However, The Magus made me want to visit Greece even more and, luckily, all the cravings for the delicious food described in the book can be easily satiated in Astoria (yay, Astoria-- where else can you run around the corner when the urge for lemon- and oregano-sprinkled lamb hits you?).

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