Some Notes: "French Lieutenant's Woman" by John Fowles.

Essay by CrabholeHigh School, 12th grade October 2005

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FLW is a Victorian love story is couched within a postmodern, self-conscious meditation on authentic existence, evolution, class struggle, and the nature of authorship. The narrative form is explored through a constant critique of representation with combines an examination of cultural surface with formidable skill in storytelling & the ability to create compelling characters & a vivid sense of social context. With essay-like excursions into Victorian social mores, self-reflexive authorial intrusions, and his Victorian narration with a 20th century sensibility, Fowles simultaneously constructs and deconstructs a Victorian novel, presenting radical cognitive experiments which challenge fundamental principles and assumptions about texts, its interaction with history and reality, ultimately producing an evolved reader. What results is a peerless, cross-genre hybrid of romance, philosophy, historiography, and postmodern metafiction.

(With flagrant manipulations of Vic. plot structures, and the pseudo-Vic. style of many passages, FLW is affectionate parody of Vic. narrative conventions. The playful 'ending' in chapter 44 presents a conventional Vic.

conclusion, where the protagonists are suitably married, the wicked punished, the lives of the lower class disregarded, and order restored. The incongruous "so ends the story" mocks narrative closure. Fowles toys with the reader, making Charles and Ernestina have "what shall it be - let us say seven children" -drawing attention to the unreliable spontaneity of the writing process. Fowles describes authors in terms of fight promoters: they put the conflicting interests in the ring, describe, fixing. The comment "these are the very steps that Jane Austen made Louisa Musgrove fall down in Persuasion" reveals the manipulative author behind the 'veil', the all-powerful puppeteer who controls the characters in the synesis of fiction.)

Fowles dispels the traditional assumption that texts are a slice of reality by asserting the unnarratability of reality, and debunking the text-bound illusion of the Victorian Age, whilst constantly...