God and Freedom are Totally Antipathetic Concepts

alex atkins bookshelf quotations“God and freedom are totally antipathetic concepts; and men believe in their imaginary gods most often because they are afraid to believe in the other thing [free will]. I am old enough now to realize they do sometimes with good reason. But I stick by the general principle, and that is what I meant to be at the heart of my story [The Magus]: that true freedom lies between each two [God/divine intervention and rational free will], never in one alone, and therefore it can never be absolute freedom. All freedom, even the most relative, may be a fiction; but mine, and still today, prefers the other hypothesis.”

From the Foreword to The Magus by British author and intellectual John Fowles. Fowles worked on the novel for 12 years and continued to revise it after publication. The Magus is considered a modern classic, ranked in the Modern Library 100 Best Novels (1999) and the BBC’s The Big Read (2003). In his review of The Magus, The New York Times critic Eliot Fremont-Smith heaps lavish praise on Fowles’ magnum opus: “The Magus is a stunner, magnificent in ambition, supple and gorgeous in execution. It fits no neat category; it is at once a pyrotechnical extravaganza, a wild, hilarious charade, a dynamo of suspense and horror, a profoundly serious probing into the nature of moral consciousness, a dizzying, electrifying chase through the labyrinth of the soul, an allegorical romance, a sophisticated account of modern love, a ghost story that will send shivers racing down the spine. Lush, compulsive, richly inventive, eerie, provocative, impossibly theatrical… No summary can convey accurately the sense of this extraordinary book. It is original and contemporary; it is intelligent… It is a marvelous, compelling novel, of a kind that doesn’t come around very often.”

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Read related posts: John Fowles on The French Lieutenant’s Woman
William Faulkner on the Writer’s Duty
Doublets: Why Writers Write

For further reading: The Magus by John Fowles

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