Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Collector by John Fowles

The Collector was the first published novel of John Fowles, one of the great British authors of the 20th century. While not pertaining to the supernatural in any manner, The Collector is a foundation of modern horror writing, and so I am able to massage defnitions a bit and allow for this commentary here at Speculative Reviews.

In a word, this novel is creepy.

The Collector tells the story of Frederick; (but call him Ferdinand!) a lonely, socially retarded young man who wins the lottery. He collects butterflies; hunts them, breeds them, is meticulous in his care and treatment of them. With his lottery winnings, Frederick buys himself an old cottage in the country outside of London; a cottage with a secret room beneath the cellar.

And then Frederick kidnaps the object of his infatuation -- Miranda Grey, beautiful young art student., and places her in this secret room.

After the abduction, the narrative is told by Miranda herself, who details her capture and confinement, and the terror that defines her waking moments. But by the end, we are returned to the point of view of the sick collector of butterflies -- and women.

According to documented evidence, (and a fascinating article in Maxim Magazine, found here) The Collector has acted as inspiration for at least five serial killers and 40 murders, and most certainly was an inspiration for Thomas Harris's The Silence of The Lambs.

Fowles maintains that his novel is about class warfare, and how the best and brightest are too often snuffed out by the mediocre majority, but The Collector is also an incredibly disturbing horror novel in and of itself. One that I can't force myself to reccomend to anyone but those who find this sort of thing fascinating. It was entirely too upsetting to me.

But then, it was supposed to be.


Collectors Notes:

First editions of The Collector are incredibly valuable due not only to its cult status, but also because it Fowles first novel, and there are signifigantly less copies in circulation than of his later novels. A signed first (1963, Jonathan Cape, London) can bring upwards of 2000 dollars. The US First (1963, Little & Brown, Boston) is worth ~500 dollars, and a signed Franklin Library edition published in the late 80's is worth ~200.

The cover of the true (UK) first edition is shown in the picture above.

Comments on "The Collector by John Fowles"


Blogger Magusbob said ... (4:23 PM) : 

For those interested in more information about John Fowles and his work, visit


Blogger Sabina said ... (9:28 PM) : 

I agree with you that "the Collector" is rather creepy, but anyway I enjoyed it. I was gripped from the very beginning and I was anxious to know whether Mirando could escape or not. When I was about to reach the end of the novel, it became clear to me that "Caliban" was going to "collect" more women. That´s the only negative thing that I can find about this book... that it came a moment when the ending was too obvious.


Blogger rohit said ... (12:10 PM) : 

An enjoyable read The Collector John Fowles . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.


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