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John Fowles: Mantissa

This one really does not work. It is the story of Miles Green, in his hospital room, chatting with his muse, Erato. They talk of sex and inspiration, of the role of women and of literature as mental illness and all the while they have sex. Miles has amnesia and has forgotten his wife but he remembers sex, not just with Erato but with other hospital (female) staff. Is Miles/Fowles in hospital, is he in his mind or is the hospital the writer’s writing and, therefore, non-existent? Well, frankly, I don’t care and the way Fowles tell it, I cannot imagine many other people caring. If you thought his previous works were self-indulgent, then read this. Or don’t.

Publishing history

First published 1982 by Jonathan Cape