Cover of "The Collector"

Cover of The Collector

I stopped reading John Fowles’s absorbing novel, The Collector, once it seemed to be getting philosophically dark; my own philosophy of life is not dark.

The book’s plot concerns an English art student, female, who is held prisoner by an unstable English bank clerk who claims to love her.  Released in 1965 was a William Wyler film version—an intelligent quasi-Hitchcock version starring Terence Stamp as the bank clerk (and collector of dead butterflies) and Samantha Eggar as the student.

As usual, Wyler knew how to direct the film—notwithstanding there is too much of Maurice Jarre‘s music on the soundtrack—and the Stanley Mann-John Kohn screenplay, though dark, is without philosophical despair.  It never reaches a philosophical plateau; but, yes, it is dark.  As John Simon informed us, evil here prospers in the end.  Certain people in society have an appetite for violation.  Those on whom the appetite is turned may not survive.

Stamp and Eggar are just about the only actors in The Collector, and what a job they do!  Eggar, incidentally, later commented that Stamp had a “nasty attitude” toward her.  If this is true, I’m sorry Stamp didn’t believe in gallantry.  Up to a point, the disturbed guy he’s playing does.