The Collector

The Collector

by John Fowles

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.99
  • Pages: 283
  • Publish Date: October 21st 1998 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0099470470
  • Isbn13: 9780099470472

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Although the basic plot is chilling enough on its own (A man kidnaps a beautiful and intelligent young girl) the parts that truly disturbed me had to do more with what I believe Fowles was saying about modern culture and the rise of the middle class. Though this book is decidedly "British" in many ways, I think the issues he raises are applicable to any society where a large middle class is created in a relatively short amount of time. Which brings me to Frederick as a stand-in for middle-class mediocrity. His need to possess is similar to the middle classes need to buy buy buy with no thought as to why its important to own the largest house, drive the nicest car or watch the most expensive television. Similarly, the rise of the middle class in America and the UK should have been a renaissance of ideas once our bellies were fed. In many ways it was (the civil rights and feminist movements come to mind), but in others, like the rise of reality television, celebrity culture and punditry news, our success has just made us comfortable and indifferent to human suffering. (the example of the American soldier in the book comes to mind) Anyone, regardless of class, money, status etc., is capable of living passionately and truthfully.

Anyways the only thing I can come up with is that since the book was published in the 1960s there wasn't as much about sadistic killers or people doing crimes like these out there so it appealed to them and Fowles does such a good job capturing a certain kind of personality in Fredrick that people really identified with it. It also gave them a good model of how to escalate to the point of doing things like kidnapping and murdering because really in the book Fredrick just starts off by dreaming about it and it goes from there.

I read this when I was very young. His deviation is far deeper than merely sex. There are a lot of excellent reviews on GR about this book, but in my opinion they all give far too much away.

I knew that already and so I was really not expecting to be coshed on the head and chucked down in the basement as well, and tied hands and feet, and gagged, so that all I could hear was the quiet reasonable voice of working-class loner Fred Clegg, aged 22, explaining how hed fallen in love from afar with the unattainable art student Miranda Grey, & since he was much too shy to go up & speak to her, the only way he could figure out how to meet her and get her to really see the kind of person he was (a good person with proper values, not the upper class idiots she was hanging around with) was to chloroform her and stuff her in his basement. Normally a lowly clerk could not do any such thing, but Fred had a stroke of luck, he won the modern equivalent of 1.6 million on the football pools (1960s version of the National Lottery) so he could ditch his family & buy an isolated cottage with a lovely big cellar.

Impotent sociopath kidnaps beautiful art student. What a helpless twit!

This novel is over fifty years old (!), and it holds up very well.

He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but its the dead me he wants. Hes obsessed with a middle-class art student named Miranda Grey and as he continues admiring her from a distance a plan slowly starts developing in his mind that he would like to have her; like one of his butterflies. The first part of the novel was told from Frederick's point of view and it was rather alarming at his thought process. To Miranda, G.P. was everything she wanted to be and his opinions and thoughts became a set of rules for her. At first I had a hard time determining the relevancy of these recollections, but it essentially just became another disturbing piece of the story to see how influential G.P. and his rules really were to Miranda. Hes made me believe them; its the thought of him that makes me feel guilty when I break the rules.

What's especially interesting here is the sheer banality of Frederick's evil.

Written in four sections, you are given Frederick's POV, then Miranda's (via her diary), and finally two final portions (of which the last seems like an epilogue). Even more tragic is that as much as you dislike Miranda(I'm ashamed to confess this, but almost the entire portion written from Frederik's POV I didn't care for her) when it's her turn to speak, you are presented an entirely different picture -- of a girl with hopes, dreams, and the realization that the choices that were of such importance in her life -- namely her inability to choose to reveal her love for another man, as well as her faith in God -- are made all the more heartbreaking in light of the predicament in which she finds herself. I can't say much as not to spoil, but I know this book will remain with me for an EXTREMELY long time.

After briefly attending the University of Edinburgh, Fowles began compulsory military service in 1945 with training at Dartmoor, where he spent the next two years. In the 1970s Fowles worked on a variety of literary projects--including a series of essays on nature--and in 1973 he published a collection of poetry, Poems. Daniel Martin, a long and somewhat autobiographical novel spanning over 40 years in the life of a screenwriter, appeared in 1977, along with a revised version of The Magus. In addition to The Aristos, Fowles wrote a variety of non-fiction pieces including many essays, reviews, and forewords/afterwords to other writers' novels. The first comprehensive biography on Fowles, John Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds, was published in 2004, and the first volume of his journals appeared the same year (followed recently by volume two).