This paper attempts to support the notion that John Fowles takes on the role of a literary cartographer, mapping the real and imagined spaces of his world in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It will also suggest that the writer absorbs his readers into the story as literary geographers. The Undercliff in The French Lieutenant’s Woman exists beyond the real and the imagined, and is represented as a trialectic space of the perceived, the conceived, and the lived. Fowles leads his reader to create and follow their own path to uncover the deeper meanings on their literary journey.
Following the realistic tradition of the Victorian age, Fowles forms a space for his reader to experience a new reality through this tale. At the same time, he breaks conventions about spaces the reader may be familiar with. As a result, the reader becomes a literary geographer and experiences a new and free space and can interpret it in a way that becomes his or her own.
The Undercliff, a place where time is compressed into space and where dead fossils encapsulate stories detailing thousands of years, is a space formed with spatial images like forked paths, a labyrinth, the open and closed space, and trespassing. It is a space that has opportunities for those who desire to evolve and develop themselves. However, not everyone who has experiences Undercliff choose this path. This decidedly points to the idea that we hold our future in our own hands. In the same way, the author invites the reader to freely conclude their own journeys through the narrative as they are presented with plural open endings. The meaning of existence through space can also be found in this part.