1001 Group Read - June, 2013: The French Lieutenant's Woman
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Read it! I'd like to know what you think of her, of the book and of Fowles's style of writing!
So, I'm about thirteen chapters into the book. So far I'm enjoying it without loving it, and I'm surprisingly un-irritated by the postmodern aspects. Actually, I rather enjoy the historical parts about the Victorian age, and it is interesting to see a novellist quote Marx at the beginning of chapters.
I always have to remind myself that the author is male. I can't say why, but the writing feels decidedly female to me and when I'm posting here I'll have to be careful not to write automatically 'she' when saying something about the author.
In short: I did enjoy the book a lot. I thought it had some great charachters, particularly Charles who is both trying to be the perfect gentleman and rebelling against the ideal and of course Sarah Woodruff who remains an enigma, even if we time and again think we have figured out, what she is really about. The love story (stories?) was interesting, and I was curious how it would turn out until the end.
Obviously, the novel is also a literary experiment. Fowles regularly steps forward to comment on the Victorian age or even the novel itself. I didn't have a problem with the first kind of comments. It underlined the differences between then and now, and it gave me a broader understanding of the society the story is placed in.
I didn't really like Fowles talking about the novel being a novel, however. Of course any piece of fiction is constructed. If reading was purely intellectual, pointing it out would be a great service to the reader. (Much like stating the premises is helping the reader deconstruct a scientific paper) The problem is, reading a novel is also about empathizing with the story and the characters - and is just harder empathizing with a character that is very explicitly a construction, even if the author claims, that the character is taking him places he hadn't thought of before.
Four stars for a good but not great read.
I cannot decide whether I loved this book or was annoyed by it. Fowles wrote this Victorian era novel in the 1960s, but it never struck me as historical fiction. I guess it felt more like a writing exercise with really well thought out characters. Fowles inserts himself into the book, exploring his control or lack thereof over the characters, and comments on Victorian era psyche from the perspective of the 1960s. He also supplies 3 different endings to the book, never really saying which he feels is the right one.
I found this all interesting and annoying at the same time. I think it was even more annoying because the characters are so interesting and the plot so familiar (at the beginning at least) that I kind of wanted it to just be a straight ahead Victorian novel. I think it's kind of brilliant that Fowles was able to mesh these two things but it was also kind of jarring to read.
As far as the story goes, I'm at a loss to determine whether I have less regard for Sarah or for Charles. Come to think of it - I don't know which characters I did like. Maybe Mr Freeman - he at least seems to be true to himself. I found it to be an interesting story and I'm glad I read the book. I won't be watching the movie again, however.
I really enjoyed it. I thought all the existentialist diversions were fascinating, even the infamous Chapter 13. My favourite though was the introduction of the bearded gentleman in the train carriage and his magical coin/pocket watch. I just found the idea really interesting and thought provoking, opening up the possible interpretations of the story.
please read more on: http://mordo-crosswords-solution.blogspot.com/2013/11/john-who-wrote-french-lieu...