Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Godgame

Talk about pleasures recalled in tranquility. Last week I encountered and bought for 50 cents "The Magus" by John Fowles in Kauniainen Library. It is the revised edition - I am not totally certain but I think I read exactly this version of the text (in Finnish) for the first time in the tender age of 13. I was burningly unhappy, just beginning a desert of long, painful years, and it was such a sublime experience to forget my surroundings in that dark winter month. I happened to be in a hospital and asked my parents to bring it in order to finish it. Such ecstasy. It is a novel to be read when young. It actually was one of the many literary, artistic gates that opened my way and expanded the sometimes cruelly narrow circumstances that I unluckily (and through personal inadequacies) found myself in, in that now very distant youth. I have of course reread it since and largely share the author's own views (as expressed in the Preface to the revised edition): it is not disciplined, mature enough, disguising undoubtedly deep personal uncertainties. That is why it so strongly appeals to young people. Of course, those faults in a strange way are its strengths. A hugely meaningful book indeed.


Suojakänni said...

"It is a novel to be read when young"

I so agree! The book totally blew my mind when I was 15. Of course I've had quite a few re-reads since (and I still love some parts of the book fiercely) but every time I grab the book the irritation, some sort of nameless itch grows stronger. Which never happens in case of, say, Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, another darling of my adolescent years.

stockholm slender said...

We seem to have a similar experience of it... "Mindblowing" is exactly the term: I was in the seventh heaven reading it, a feaverish orgy of feeling that I have now some difficulty even in recollecting. It certainly is a great book, but one to be read in the right moment, in the right time of life. It was a rueful (and have to admit, nostalgic) joy to see it standing there, costing all of 50 cents. Strange.