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An Accidental Man

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  438 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A scintillating novel of fate, accidents, and moral dilemmas

Set in the time of the Vietnam War, this story concerns the plight of a young American, happily installed in a perfect job in England, engaged to a wonderful girl, who is suddenly drafted to a war he disapproves of.

What is duty here, what is self-interest, what is cowardice? Austin Gibson Grey, the accidental man
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Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 1st 1988 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1971)
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The Sea, the Sea by Iris MurdochThe Bell by Iris MurdochThe Black Prince by Iris MurdochA Severed Head by Iris MurdochUnder the Net by Iris Murdoch
Best of Iris Murdoch
22nd out of 29 books — 34 voters
The Blind Assassin by Margaret AtwoodAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughThe Sound and the Fury by William FaulknerAbsalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
In Which These Are the 100 Greatest Novels
83rd out of 101 books — 34 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 783)
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Fiona
Even better than the others I've read. Totally awesome writer. Amazingly well realised characters. I think she should be studied at university.
Tariq Mahmood
Its a remarkeable how Iris manages to keep me captivated with a weak plot. I think her stength lies in character presentation and subtelity. The accidental man is man who is making mistakes but not living in guilt and regret for too long. He is a modern man, happy to live and feed off from the women in his life again without much shame attached. Iris shows how people can create an imagination in which they are never to blame for their own mistakes.

I love the book, as I saw too much of myself in
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Sally Tarbox
"Austin was a curious man. He inspired love. He inspired fear.",, 1 January 2015
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sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews

This review is from: An Accidental Man (Paperback)
My first attempt at Iris Murdoch's work, and difficult to review, as although I recognise that the quality of writing, the deeper messages on morality etc, mean it's probably worth at least 4.5, I didn't desperately like it.
Opening with the breathless engagement of an American draft dodger and his rather shallow
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Jessie
Murdoch must be more of a misanthrope even than me if she takes this view of people. I'm not such a modernist that I need a hero but this is surely the most contemptible bunch of characters of any book I've read. The philosophy is thin and the dialogue artificial. Still it is hard to not be sucked into the drama. Between this book and the last I read by her if she uses the word uncanny one more time I'm going to scream.
Ali
I found this to be an excellent Iris Murdoch novel. Big complex ideas, typical cast of Murdochian characters all of whom are somehow connected to the others. This is actually a very readable, even gripping read. Many of Murdochs usual themes are present, although toned down a bit, from her earlier novels. Overall very enjoyable, although there were a couple of characters who irritated me.
Courtney
The story of an incestuous upper middle class English family, their many friends, and one imposter, Ludwig. The scholarly American, accidentally born in Great Britain, is avoiding the draft for the Vietnam War by staying in his parent's adopted country.
Darlene
The best I can say about this book made up of secondary characters is that it was an interesting experiment. None of these characters are very likeable, but there are enough "accidents" to keep the story moving along.
Joyce
Too many characters! Mitzi, Maisie, Clarice, Caroline... can't keep them or their houses straight.
This was my first encounter with Iris Murdoch. I think she's a bit too overwrought for me.
wally
i don't believe i've read story one from murdoch...so this is a 1st, paperback version, 1971...dedicated to kreisel...

on the cover: "a scintillating novel of fate, accidents and moral dilemmas."

ummm. i'll read this, despite the cover blurb...

she has quite a list of stories...looks like 20 or more, couple works of non-fiction...story begins:

'gracie, darling, will you marry me?'
'yes.'
'what?'
'yes.'
ludwig leferrier stared down into the small calm radiant unsmiling face of gracie tisbourne. was it co
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Cecily
A complex book with many characters, not one of whom is both sane and likeable, and many who are neither! There is no single main character or even a main plot, yet lots happens (which makes you keep reading), but in some ways, nothing does (which makes it frustrating).

An odd mixture of conventional narrative, sections of correspondence and quickfire unattributed and disjointed dialog at parties. The latter two styles felt like a shortcut to move the story along. I also found the repeated use of
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Nathanial
Sep 21, 2010 Nathanial added it
Shelves: fiction
Pace, character, and stakes--Murdoch's mistress of 'em all. So much changes so quickly, for reasons we understand why, and effects such different characters in such different ways because she's given us insight into their quirks and circumstances. My favorite device of hers is how she alternates chapter formats: one long, meditative chapter from the perspective of a secondary character contemplating a momentary crisis, followed by a short, narrative chapter following a primary character through ...more
Robert Kradoska
A rambling story taking place in England with many personalities including Ludwig, Austin, Matthew, and many more
Mythmohit
too good... :)
Kristine Morris
About 30 pages in, I thought, "Damn, this is going to be hard to get through" and yet I must because it's been chosen by my book club. And then it kind of grabbed me. Never have a read such a jumble of miserable characters. I liked how she alternated between prose, letters and the party one liners. Lots of stuff going on in the novel with no real plot. Looking forward to discussing with my book club.
Kate
A book with no protagonist is harder to read than it sounds, and a book where there is no pattern, no real meaning to the lives of the characters is even tougher - but I'm glad we read this for our discussion because unlike so many easy-to-read books there was a lot to talk about and a lot to think about. I suspect, despite my 3-star rating, that this one is going to stick with me for a while.
Joann
I liked it much, but then I am an official Iris Murdoch fan.
Olympia
This book was something to read. The author did create some very complex characters, they were crazy, funny, sad,and oh my so depressing at times. You just wanted to jump into the book and shake them up. It was a very long book at four hundred and forty two pages.
Beth
This is now one of my favourite books of all time, and Iris Murdoch one of my fave writers. Well constructed characters, just quirky enough to be believable and fantastically written dialogue. Can't wait to read her other books.
Meen
I enjoyed it, but the whole time I was reading it I was thinking about Eddie Izzard's skit on British films, Sebastian and arranging matches, etc...:

http://youtu.be/TjC3R6jOtUo
Cohesion
Even though I enjoyed this book as I do all of Murdoch's writings, I don't think I am able to add anything to the reviews that are already listed.
Sarah
Some in my book club thought the title character was evil & horrible, but I disagreed -- I thought he was compelling and misunderstood.
Isabelle Austin
...I could not finish this one: found that despite author's convoluted attempts, characters never reached their full "epaisseur".
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Feb 25, 2015
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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
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