Shimmering Perversity

THE EBONY TOWER

by JOHN FOWLES

312 pages. Little, Brown. $7.95.

In his first three novels, John Fowles displayed a talent for taking risks. The Collector (1963), The Magus (1966) and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) came in impressive sequence, one surpassing another in virtuosity, like the work of a magician developing his craft, slow motion, before his audience. The Collector was a comparatively simple pass—butterflies in psychotic transformation turned into pinioned women, perhaps a gothic variation on Lepidopterist Nabokov. In The Magus, Fowles worked gaudier effects: allegory, romance, black magic. The French Lieutenant's...

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