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Metafictional John Fowles

Self-confessed recluse admits to Living on the Brink.

News 1983 2 mins

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An excerpt from the series Secrets of the Coast entitled Living on the Brink, English novelist John Fowles reads a passage from his famous novel A French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) and vividly describes the valley at Dowlands between Axmouth and Lyme Regis with its water springs, and woods of ash and beech. Created by a landslip in 1839, the valley forms part of Undercliff National Nature Reserve and is one of the largest active coastal landslide systems in Western Europe.

Fowles’ first novel The Collector (1963) is also a film starring Terence Stamp (1983) and tells of a butterfly collector kidnapping a woman in London and is most likely to be the inspiration behind Thomas Harris’ book The Silence Of The Lambs (1988). The French Lieutenant’s Woman is his third novel and a Victorian era romance with the character’s commentary that of an author writing in the 1960s. It is an example of postmodern historical metafiction where the reader is frequently reminded that the work is one of fiction. The 1981 film stars Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. John Fowles taught English on the Greek island of Spetses which inspired his second book The Magus (1965) which was an instant bestseller.