John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman and William Golding’s Rites of Passage

  • Neil McEwan


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.


Sight Line Modern Writer Realistic Convention Sexual Rite Contemporary Fiction 
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  1. 1.
    J. W. Burrow, A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) pp. 298–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    Bernard Bergonzi, The Situation of the Novel, 2nd edn (London: Macmillan, 1979) p. 225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    Michel Butor, ‘The Novel as Research’, Inventory: Essays (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    John Fowles, ‘Notes on an Unfinished Novel’, in The Novel Now, edited by Malcolm Bradbury (London: Fontana, 1977) p. 136.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Christopher Ricks, ‘The Unignorable Real’, New York Review of Books, 14 March 1970, p. 22.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Neil McEwan 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil McEwan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of QatarQatar

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