The Postmodernist Narrative Techniques in John Fowles’s The Collector
The English novelist John Fowles (1926-2005) was educated at Oxford and then started teaching English at different universities in the UK and Greece. When his first novel The Collector (1963) was published and became a big success , he left his job and devoted his time to writing. The Collector’s first draft development was influenced by two events. The first one when Fowles attended Béla Bartók’s opera Bluebeard's Castle (1911). Similar to The Collector’s story, the opera talks about women who are imprisoned by a man. Bartók’s opera as Sherrill E. Grace states in his article “Courting Bluebeard with Bartók , Atwood , and Fowles : Modern Treatment of the Bluebeard Theme ,” is “ a modern adaptation of the Bluebeard theme that has frequently appeared in literature and other forms of art since the medieval age,” (Grace 1984 ,247).
The Bluebeard theme concerns with the violence of man against women. “I went to see the first performance [in the 1950s] in London of Bartók’s opera , Bluebeard's Castle . It wasn’t a very good performance , but the thing that struck me was the symbolism of the man imprisoning women underground,” ( Vipond , 219) this is what Fowles said in an interview commenting on Bartók’s opera. The second event as Woodcock notes that Fowles read a newspaper report about a young man who kidnapped a girl and imprisoned her for more than three months and Fowles said that “There were many peculiar features about this case that fascinated me,” (Fowles quoted in Woodcock 1984 , 27).
The story of The Collector is about the kidnapping of Miranda Grey by Frederic Clegg , the only two main characters in the novel. Clegg is a working man from low class who seems as antisocial being who hates everyone around. His only interest which is stated from the beginning is to collect unique butterflies. He begins observing the art student , Miranda, from the town hall , in which he works. Throughout time , he becomes obsessed with Miranda and he keeps an “observation diary,” about her , knowing that his love towards her is unreal and inapproachable because of the class difference between them . Once , he comes to win a great amount of money in a football pool and as a result he buys an isolated house and prepares the cellar for Miranda , whom he manages later on to kidnap her and imprison her in the cellar. Miranda’s attempts to escape from Clegg fail , so she decides to seduce him as a way to get rid of her miserable imprisonment . Contrary to her expectations , Clegg shifts from admiring her to despising her. Finally , Miranda catches a cold and then she suffers from pneumonia and dies while Clegg sits by her helplessly . At the end of the novel , Clegg is thinking about improving his strategies of kidnapping and he is planning to kidnap another local girl who works in a small store.