Plot summary[ edit ] The book opens with an objective narration about a group of five travellers travelling through Exmoor in rural England. They arrive at an inn in a small village, and soon it becomes clear that they are not who they seem to be. We learn from a fictional news story that a man has been found hanged near the place where the travellers were staying. The interviews reveal that Bartholomew had hired the party to travel with him but deceived them about the purpose of his journey. Variations of his story are 1 he was on his way to elope against the wishes of family; 2 he was visiting a wealthy, aged aunt to secure an inheritance from her; 3 he was seeking a cure for impotence; 4 he was pursuing some scientific or occult knowledge, possibly concerning knowledge of the future. He takes Rebecca and Dick to a cave in a remote area.
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What is the event? Fowles has written A Maggot to find out. The first two thirds of that finding out strike me as excellent. The little group of travellers consist of what appear to be an uncle and a nephew, accompanied by two manservants one of them a deaf mute , and with a maid whom the gentlemen may be intending to deliver into the service of a neighbouring rich relation. But when the deaf mute is found hanged, perhaps by his own hand, with a posy of violets stuffed in his mouth, and his fellow travellers disappear, it falls to a lawyer called Ayscough to track down every possible witness and unravel the real purpose of the journey.
What Ayscough discovers is that nothing is what it seemed to be. All this, together with a strong whiff of witchcraft or at best astrology, is extracted by the lawyer in a series of verbatim interviews with such of the travellers as he can manage to run to ground.
Dick of course is dead, and his alter ego, the degenerate nobleman, has disappeared. Fowles, as always, is a clever pasticheur, and all the various voices ring quite true.
It may seem churlish to complain that what is wrong with A Maggot is that too much ultimately is revealed. Well, I was going to say the event or Event towards which his travellers came, but blasphemy needs more panache than is here achieved. There are two writers in John Fowles. One of them is haunted by indelible images and fashions powerful stories when he follows those images to their logical conclusions in a work of fiction designed to tease possible meanings out of them.
This is the poet Fowles, who trusts his unconscious and has something of the genuine mythopoeic imagination at work in him. It is a pity, because until the rot in the way of authorial interventions sets in wholesale, and the book more or less gives up being a novel at all. A Maggot had struck me as very nearly the best work to date of a highly talented and always interesting writer.
At the age of 26, after receiving legal training, Robert enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company and spent three years in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. During , the year Robert was demobilised, his father Reginald died. Robert became responsible for five young half-siblings as well as the children of his brother. Although he had hoped to practise law, the obligation of raising an extended family forced him into the family trade of tobacco importing.