John Knowles

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Knowles, John (Vol. 1)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Knowles, John 1926–

An American novelist, Knowles is the author of A Separate Peace and Indian Summer. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-18.)

John Knowles achieved an early and substantial reputation with the publication of A Separate Peace. Since then he has written a second novel, a European and Near Eastern travel book, and now a third novel, Indian Summer. On the dust jacket of each of these is the wistful identification of John Knowles as the author of A Separate Peace, an identification which has begun to suggest, by Indian Summer, that Knowles' reputation is based altogether on the success of his first novel. There is a kind of justice, however, in the association, for all of Knowles' later works are concerned in one fashion or another with the same theme as that of his first—the necessity for one to conquer the forces within himself that work for his destruction and concomitantly to achieve that harmony of self that enables him to love….

[It] seems to me that Indian Summer is a tired novel, and I am not convinced that Knowles really cared much for it. Throughout there is an air of the feigned, from Pop Sommer's charm, to Georgia's anguish, to Cleet's vitality, to Neil's shrewdness, as though the novel were an exercise undertaken by a novelist who understands his theme but who feels very little for it. To say this, however, is not to dismiss the novel, for it is an interesting work with some fine moments. But in all fairness, it must be added that Indian Summer is not the novel that will cause admirers of John Knowles to forget A Separate Peace.

James Ellis, "John Knowles: Indian Summer," in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. IX, No. 2, 1967, pp. 92-5.

Knowles worked with nostalgia quite effectively in A...

(The entire section is 446 words.)