Posted by: tabliope | February 22, 2012

This weekend I’m finally going to visit Spetses and I’m surprised it’s taken me so long because it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go,  mainly on account of having read The Magus.   I wanted to go when it was cool enough to walk and perhaps find the Villa Bourani and that mystical waiting room that Nicholas was warned about.  Yes, I know it’s fiction but that’s not the point.  I visited Berlin through the eyes of Deighton and Isherwood and if I want to view Spetses through Fowles’ lens then I shall.

Whether or not I can bring myself to read the novel in its entirety is a whole other thing.  It’s the sort of thing that’s best read as an adolescent, searching for the meaning of life and imagining that it’s something that can be found in a novel.  Fowles himself struggled with the novel so much that he wrote it twice although having read both versions (yes, I’m a fan and I was a very perturbed adolescent) he didn’t seem to over-exert himself on the rewrite.   I have a vague memory of picking it up about ten years ago and having the same sort of feelings I would have had if I’d found my teenage poetry.  Not to suggest that The Magus is anything quite as bad as my teenage poetry but there are some nice angsty bits.

It’s been a couple of weeks of revisiting the 1970s because Tinker Tailor was finally released here in Greece.  Flicking through The Magus now embarrasses me slightly whereas Le Carre’s novel seems as valid as ever despite it being dated in every way.  I had some reservations about the film but I always do have problems with films from books because I’m not able to separate the two.  I felt that some of the characters who should have been developed more were ignored at the expense of shots of George Smiley swimming in Hampstead Ponds.  But that said I think the last few scenes of the film are the best thing I’ve seen in a long time despite none of them occurring in the novel .  Anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film and cares about this shouldn’t click on the link.







  1. When you’re there, have a thought for my teenage self too please! Magus really mucked up my head as a teenager…..

    • I will – I shall raise a glass of taverna wine to our teenage year.

  2. I too loved the Magus as a teenager and cringed as an adult. Not sure if I got past the first two chapters second time around. Have a great weekend!

  3. I enjoyed the Magus back in the day but with all this talk of teenage years I cannot remember how old I was when I read it the first time – probably at least 20? Anyway I reread it recently, at around 28 I think (I turned 31 today so not that recently) and I also felt a little self conscious reading it! I would love to know what you think of Spetses – it’s the only Argo-Saronic island I haven’t been to (no, that’s not true – haven’t been to Angistri either) and have always wanted to go -but had heard that major forest fires a few years ago had wiped out its age-old pine forests and that it had really changed.

    • Heidi, it’s lovely – I’m planning to blog about it so won’t make you read it twice.

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