Date of Award

Spring 1986

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation offers a prismatic view of John Fowles's novels. My approach accords with his major theme: that true perception is "seeing whole." My readings involve, first, a close textual analysis which demonstrates how Fowles uses patterning, counterpoint, symbol and image clusters to suggest the nature of reality. I also examine extensively Fowles's use of rhetoric. The study of his artistry inevitably leads to a discussion of his themes. I have considered Fowles's theory of history, his feeling that individual self-awareness is the key to the evolution of the species, and that one's personal freedom should be unassailable.

My work also considers meta-fictional subjects related to the novels. I have examined the nature of author-ity as Fowles sees it and the writer's relationship to his reader's freedom. I have explained Fowles's feeling that the art of reading is much like the art of living. As the reading gropes his way through the multiple deceptions of each Fowles text, his activity mirrors the ways in which he must penetrate his own and others' roles and games in real life.

Each novel brings up new subjects and establishes its own relationship to being. In the chapter on The Magus I discuss the novel as an epistemology and an exploration of the relationship of generic conventions to quotidian reality. In The Collector chapter I show how Fowles uses the double point of view to reveal the many ways in which freedom may be abused. The chapter on The French Lieutenant's Woman deals with Fowles's understanding of history and his ideas about authorship. My reading of Daniel Martin considers how Fowles uses cinematic conventions as a foil for novelistic conventions in an examination of the nature of perception as it relates to personal identity. My discussion of Mantissa reveals Fowles's lighthearted skepticism about novel-writing and academic criticism. My last chapter is an interview with Fowles, conducted in Lyme Regis, in which he talks about writing and being a writer.