John Collier, a contemporary English author, was born in London, England on May 3,1901 and lived his last years in Palisades, California where he died of a stroke on April 6, 1980. Collier was a writer of the 1920’s era, educated in post-Victorian England, and according to Anthony Burgess in the London Times. He was known for "literary allusiveness and quiet wit" (Contemporary Authors 111). A collection of his most memorable works was published in 1972 entitled The John Collier Reader. His literary style reached beyond his native country and became popular in the United States.
John Collier’s writings are full of surprises. His short stories combine an element of horror as well as love which are focused on the relationships of the young and old. Collier is notable for lightly carried erudition, literary allusiveness and quiet wit, according to Anthony Burgess. Anthony Burgess, a novelist, said though not a writer of the very first rank, he possessed considerable literary skill and a rare capacity to entertain (Contemporary Authors 111). Collier’s readers are involved in his writings by trick endings or "take away endings" in which readers are given all clues but asked to finish, the story on their own (Critical Survey 1169). His subject manner is often the line between logical or psychological meaning. The subject contains an irony that is well balanced between an element of horror and humor. His short stories are based on relationships of the young and old. Collier’s characters are hoping to fulfill their dreams and they do have them fulfilled but only to discover they have been dreaming the wrong thing.
"The Chaser" is a story that deals with a man’s dream of gaining a woman’s love through a potion. The man wants the love of this woman so badly that he wants to purchase a potion to gain her love. The old wise man that owns all these potions is a man who has experienced much about love in his life. This woman to the young man is everything. He will go to all limits to have her care about him. With this potion the old man says "She will care intensely. You will be her sole interest in life." this is when the young man says "That is love." we can see here how desperate of a dream to have the love of this woman is to him (Collier 48). When the woman drinks the potion she will have total adoration for the young man and will want nothing but him. This story is very typical of John Collier with the whole story being summarized in the last line. The last line said by the old man is "Au revoir" meaning until or for we meet again. These words leave the reader thinking that the young man will return for the glove cleaner (Collier 49).
The relationship between characters of the old man and the young man is one based on knowledge and desires. The knowledge is of the dream that the character has the desire is o fulfill this dream. The young man in this story has dreams of obtaining the love of a woman yet the old man knows that he is going about it the wrong way for it will not work and the young man will be back to purchase the other potion just like the men before him. In the ending of the story we know the young man’s immediate dream is fulfilled by his purchasing the potion, yet we are left to decide if the young man must return for the 5,000 dollar potion to correct his dream that has gone bad.
Love in a relationship is also the basis of the story "De Mortius". Young and old is once again portrayed in the relationship of this story. The characters of this piece question the relationship between the doctor and his young wife. The man is old and his wife is young and full of life unlike himself. This couple is at the two far ends of the spectrum. He is one with deep thought while she is as the man states " she’s stupid."(Touch of Nutmeg 17). One might think that such extreme devotion would cause him to hate her. Especially when the