In some ways the popularity of John Fowles is surprising. His two best‐sellers, The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman, exemplify strengths and weaknesses unusual in so widely‐read a writer. His virtues shade into his faults. His uncompromising determination to write the kind of novel that interests him, regardless of the expectations of his readership, has made each of his books excitingly distinct but is less happily reflected in a frequent lack of concern for his reader's interests — or, indeed, interest. Again his pre‐occupation with ideas — though admirable as the manifestation of an intellectuality rare among British novelists — occasionally leads him to incorporate them somewhat indigestibly into his novels. His worst faults derive from these ambivalent virtues: a lack of humour, stylistic carelessness, the subordination of characters to ideas, and a tendency to didacticism of tone and content.
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