Francis King

Misanthrope At Large

The Journals: Volume II

By

Jonathan Cape 704pp £30 order from our bookshop

A review of any sort of autobiographical writing always runs the danger of being a critique as much of the writer’s character as of his literary merit. When I reviewed the first volume of John Fowles’s Journals, I was therefore on my guard. Here was a man who repeatedly revealed himself to be egotistical, intolerant and ruthless. Yet here, too, I kept reminding myself, was a writer of towering stature, whose journals deserved a place beside those of Gide, Mann and Woolf. His personal faults and failures must not be allowed to overshadow the appreciation of his exceptional literary gifts. I have been similarly on my guard this time.

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