A Maggot is possibly Fowles’s least overtly self-conscious postmodern fiction. The fictional destabilizations of The French Lieutenant’s Woman are well known, with its alternative endings, its contemporary narratorial interjections and the audacious meeting of author and character in a railway carriage. The Magus, Daniel Martin and Mantissa, too, display a marked capacity for overt fictional self-exposure, while The Collector reveals itself as obsessed with writing, with other stories acting as narrative templates, two narrators who are at best unreliable, and a false ending, declared as ‘The End’ in Clegg’s penultimate narrative. A Maggot wears its postmodernism lightly, without any explicit intent to subvert the reader with self-displaying artifice. Admittedly, there is a twentieth-century narrator ready to remind the reader that the characters inhabit a world ‘so entirely pre-ordained it might be written, like this book’,1 while Lacy tells Ayscough that Mr Bartholomew said ‘we were like the personages in a tale or novel, that had no knowledge they were such’ (AM, 150); but the primary effect of such examples is not, as in the earlier fictions, of fictional dislocation to create some existential experience of destabilization in the reader. It is as if Fowles, having already played this trick in different forms, is no longer much interested in it. Instead, he inhabits the world of his characters so intently that the effect on the reader is of complete immersion in this fictional eighteenth century.
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