Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Collector by John Fowles

(from Goodreads):  Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. A lottery win enables him to capture art student Miranda and keep her in the cellar of the Sussex house he has bought with the windfall.


I was surprised by how captivating and fast read The Collector is. I always expect a classic to be somewhat tedious, but this novel is so intriguing I could not put it down because I had to know what happened.

Fowles tells the story from both sides, Frederick's and Miranda's. The first part of the story is told from Frederick's P.O.V. and it made me sympathise with him despite his wrongful actions, because his reasoning is sensible and, in a way, innocent.

The events are then retold by Miranda and are, in spite of repetition, fresh, because her experience is new to the reader. Miranda thinks very highly of herself and feels only contempt towards Frederick. She thinks she is better than other people – especially working-class, uneducated people such as Frederick – because she is an artist. She feels superior to them due to her way of thinking. These traits made me dislike her. On the other hand, her fear, feeling of suffocation, longing for freedom, and inability to understand Frederick are perfectly understandable, and I did feel sorry for her and I hoped she would be fine in the end.

The last part of the novel is again told by Frederick, who finally turns out to be a monster. However, the reasons for him becoming a psychopath he is are clear. I could not help but wonder if his life would have taken a different path had people around him, Miranda especially, acted differently and understood him. So, I felt sorry for him, in spite of everything.

All in all, The Collector is an insightful take on human psychology. It is suspenseful and tragic and makes the reader think about social and philosophical issues.

RECOMMENDATION: The Collector is a gripping, thought-provoking novel for everyone who wants to take a look into the psychology of both the captor and the captive.

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