Constance B. Hieatt
[Fowles's] collection entitled The Ebony Tower takes [Marie de France's] Anglo-Norman lay of Eliduc as its focal point, or so the author states in his headnote to the translation which occupies the midpoint of the volume. In this note he says that his book owes its "mood," and partly "its theme and setting," to medieval literature…. (p. 351)
[Marie, however], can be described as a writer of distinctly feminist tone. This is hardly the case with John Fowles, although he also specializes in male weaklings. There is, however, a paradoxical lack of sensitivity to a woman's point of view in much of his work, including the title novella of The Ebony Tower. (p. 357)
Eliduc, in the ironic tale we know by this name, is unlike David of The Ebony Tower: he gets the girl—with the help of his wife. Such a man is clearly not worth keeping. It may, then, be suspected that in the end the contemporary writer has missed the true "common ground" of Marie's tales. She was overwhelmingly concerned with man's unfairness to woman. Fowles is almost exclusively concerned with the problems of men, even when he devotes a major part of a narrative to looking at a woman's point of view, as he does in the last tale of The Ebony Tower, "The Cloud." This long story seems to focus on the problems of Katherine, whose man has commited suicide, but the real focus is on the waste of human potential in such male characters as Paul…. (pp. 357-58)
Constance B. Hieatt, "'Eliduc' Revisited: John Fowles and Marie de France," in English Studies in Canada (© Association of Canadian University Teachers of English 1977), Vol. III, No. 3, Fall, 1977, pp. 351-58.