Saturday, July 30, 2011
Serendipity: John Fowles, Wormholes
I have never really wanted to be a novelist. For me the word carries a load of bad connotations--like author and literature and reviewer, only worse. It suggests something factitious as well as fictitious, insipidly entertaining; train-journeyish. One can't imagine a "novelist" 's ever saying what he actually means or feels--one can hardly even imagine his meaning or feeling.
These words have had connotations because they suggest that in some way writing and being a writer aren't central human activities.
I've always wanted to write (in this order) poems, philosophy, and only then novels. I wouldn't even put the whole category of activity--writing--first on my list of ambitions. My first ambition has always been to alter the society I live in; that is, to affect other lives. I think I begin to agree with Marx-Lenin: writing is a very second-rate way of bringing about a revolution. But I recognize that all I am capable of is writing. I am a writer. Not a doer.
Society, existing among other human beings, challenges me, so I have to choose my weapon. I choose writing; but the thing that comes first is that I am challenged.
--John Fowles --
Wormholes is a collection of John Fowles' non-fiction writings: "essays, literary criticism, commentaries, autobiographical statements, memoirs, and musings." The quotation is the very first lines of the work. It's quite a surprise to read that one of the premiere English novelists (or so I regard him) "never really wanted to be a novelist." He's a revolutionary who doesn't believe the pen is mightier than the sword, yet found that his best weapon is the pen.
Are his novels really the response to challenges from society?
Some novels by John Fowles: The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Magus, The Collector, The Ebony Tower, and Daniel Martin.