John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman and William Golding’s Rites of Passage
Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) is fashionably ‘troubled’ by theoretical questions of form and status in contemporary fiction; Golding’s Rites of Passage (1980) is not troubled at all. Fowles’s book illustrates several modes available to a modern writer: it is an imaginative creation of the past adopting the sight lines of characters of its period; it is an exercise in critical theory, challenging the realistic conventions of its story; and it is a documentary which, like The Singapore Grip, could be used in a history class. Golding’s novel is a well-made work whose form is subject to the author’s imagination and to nothing else.
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