British novelist John Fowles’s The Magus (1965) is typically interpreted by critics as an early postmodern narrative about freedom and authenticity; however, this novel also engages directly with imperial contraction and changing notions of Englishness during the postwar decades. Fowles attempts through the novel’s complex plot, centered on the travel of its young male protagonist from London to Greece and back again, to revivify a pre-imperial English identity and counter the prevailing imperial nostalgia of the 1960s. In the process, Fowles demonstrates the insufficiency of British Mediterranean travel narratives to define Englishness in an emerging postimperial context.


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