This work traces the development of John Fowles's novels from "The Collector", "The Magus" and "The French Lieutenant's Woman", each concerned with the quest for self-knowledge, through to "The Ebony Tower" and "Daniel Martin". The book shows how the sexual element of Fowles's early novels is interwoven with the author's interest in French existentialism as, in his first three works of fiction, Fowles's main characters are obliged not only to struggle with sexual issues but to choose between living a life of conventionality, on the one hand, or seeking to discover a sense of their own "authenticity" on the other. By the 1970s, however, Fowles's interest in existentialism had begun to wane, his disillusionment taking different forms in "The Ebony Tower", a collection of short stories, and in "Daniel Martin", the novel that followed it. In "A Maggot" he abandons existentialism in favour of a more generalized philosophical issue - the limits of human knowledge.
JAMES ACHESON is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is author of Samuel Beckett's Artistic Theory and Practice, co-editor of Contemporary British Poetry and Beckett's Later Fiction and Drama; and editor of The British and Irish Novel since 1960 and British and Irish Drama since 1960. A member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Beckett Studies, he has published essays on Beckett and other authors in various edited collections and journals.