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Existentialists and Mystics Writings on Philosophy and Literature

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  155 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Best known as the author of twenty-six novels, Iris Murdoch has also made significant contributions to the fields of ethics and aesthetics. Collected here for the first time in one volume are her most influential literary and philosophical essays. Tracing Murdoch's journey to a modern Platonism, this volume includes incisive evaluations of the thought and writings of T. S. ...more
Paperback, Non-Classics, 576 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Penguin (first published 1997)
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Nov 25, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing
The best essay in this book for me is by far Iris Murdoch's "The Sublime and the Beautiful Revisited" - in fact I think this has influenced more than just my views on novels but rather on general ethics and how people should treat one another entirely. I recently read this again and was no less moved than by the first time I read it over ten years ago.
Feb 12, 2015 Harperac rated it it was amazing
The first thing I want to say is that Iris Murdoch has a very good prose style. It has the clarity and simplicity of good philosophical writing, proceeding smoothly from point to point, from premise to conclusion. Yet her career as a novelist certainly shows itself in her great idiomatic and metaphoric flair, not at all overwritten or purple, but equally understated and clear. Here is an exemplary paragraph from "The Sublime and the Beautiful Revisited":

"What is pictured here is very like Kant's
Jan 09, 2014 Dan rated it it was amazing
Murdoch is one of the kindest and most humble writers of philosophy I've ever read. She writes about existential themes without angst, with keen insight and admirable restraint. With both her style and her substantive claims, she rightly balances the urge toward philosophy and the urge toward literature. She directs her attention to some of the most lasting problems in philosophy without much simplification and she avoids over-radical claims. It's not standard academic fare, yet it comes from a ...more
Oct 04, 2010 Ronny rated it did not like it
Yet another book that I did not finish because it did not deliver what the title promised.

The main focus on this book appears to be literature. Philosophy seems to be the secondary purpose, and indeed it's almost more about what literature can teach us of philosophy.

The problem is the title puts Philosophy first and I expected a more philosophy-centric approach, which I did not get. Indeed, the section titles were also misleading. "Towards a Practical Mysticism" did no such thing.
May 05, 2009 Kimi rated it really liked it
it took me about a year to get through these essays. i really enjoyed her writing (and philosphy). what was a little difficult for me was the grouping of the essays (i didn't get that). i especially enjoyed the interview transcriptions, and the essays where she discussed the connection between literature and philosphy.
Jul 22, 2012 Rowan rated it it was amazing
Very accessible and lucid despite her erudition.
I actually enjoyed this more than her novels, which I sometimes feel i read more for the scenery.
Extremely useful even if you know as little as I do about philosophy.
Sep 26, 2008 Christopher rated it really liked it
Picked this up in new Mexico waiting to meet a friend in a bookstore. So far it has its moments, though I'm having to skip through.
I had this on loan from the school library for over two years and never finished it. Now I am leaving the school. The bits I have read are great. One day I will get my own copy.
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I loved it but of course I would. Let you into a secret though, can't remember much about the content at all except the neo-platonic drive for the Good.
Aug 25, 2009 Eduardo rated it it was amazing
A great set of essays from a brilliant philosopher & novelist, one gets a glimpse of a versatile thinker and writer. Worth reading.
Jane rated it it was amazing
Jun 29, 2007
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May 03, 2013 Robbie Govus rated it it was amazing
Pure philosophical genius !!!
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  • Selected Prose
  • Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935-1938
  • Love's Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature
  • Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980
  • Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?: 23 Questions From Great Philosophers
  • The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations
  • Cigarettes Are Sublime
  • Axel's Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930
  • Signposts in a Strange Land: Essays
  • The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science
  • Iris Murdoch: A Life
  • In Rough Country: Essays and Reviews
  • Lyrical and Critical Essays
  • Time and Narrative, Volume 2
  • Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts
  • The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault
  • The Romantic Agony
  • Euthyphro/Apology/Crito/Meno/Gorgias/Menexenus (Dialogues, Vol 1)
Dame Jean Iris Murdoch

Irish-born British writer, university lecturer and prolific and highly professional novelist, Iris Murdoch dealt with everyday ethical or moral issues, sometimes in the light of myths. As a writer, she was a perfectionist who did not allow editors to change her text. Murdoch produced 26 novels in 40 years, the last written while she was suffering from Alzheimer disease.

"She w
More about Iris Murdoch...

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