Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The novels of John Fowles are challenging, complex fictions. Quite by chance, or hazard, I purchased A Maggot in a bookstore. At the time of purchase, I was looking for an entertaining novel, something to soothe the frayed nerves that accompany final examinations. I quickly realized, however, that A Maggot offered far more than light entertainment. It was also a complex siren's call to enter the challenging but rewarding arena of writing and reading fiction. I then decided to go back to the beginning and read, chronologically, Fowles's complete literary oeuvre. The challenges presented by his eclectic range of topics, strong philosophical positions, and narrative experimentation's encouraged me to question the roles of writer and reader in relation to the creation of fiction. At this point, my goal began to take shape; confused but intrigued by the plot intricacies, baffling terminology, and shifting narrative perspectives of the individual texts, I wondered if there might be some way to define Fowles's creative stance as the author of these nontraditional fictions. I also wondered how the role of the reader in relation to these writings might best be defined. I began to reread and study Fowles's novels in detail, considering foremost the responsibilities of both the writer and the reader within the creative process. I also hoped to determine if there was, perhaps, some sort of hermeneutic for approaching. and entering the complex frameworks of the author's difficult novels. One possibility that occurred to me early on in my reading was an architectural design for prison reform coined by the nineteenth-century English philosopher and economist, Jeremy Bentham - Panopticon. The basic prison structure, comprehensive Central Gatekeeper perspective, and meliorative goal offered by Bentham's plan seemed to coincide with the architectural design, narrative movement, and authorial goals offered to the reader in Fowles's novels. The results of my critical adventures into these questions concerning the creative process of novel-writing and novel-reading are presented in this dissertation...



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