Under the Net is an earnest narrative of a man who wants to do good but whose misguided actions lead him to consistently do the opposite. Jake is a wrUnder the Net is an earnest narrative of a man who wants to do good but whose misguided actions lead him to consistently do the opposite. Jake is a writer/translator, lazy by his own admission, who wants to do nothing more than spend his days discussing interesting things with interesting people. The novel begins with Jake getting tossed out onto the streets by the friend he's been living with, leaving him to seek out an old girlfriend, Anna, in an attempt to find new housing. Jake has no interest in maintaining a home of his own and instead relies on the kindness of others. A conversation with Anna leads Jake down a road that involves quickly multiplying complications. As Jake's life grows increasingly complex and he finds himself at a loss, it is pointed out to him that there really isn't so much going on that he isn't engineering himself.
And that's the crux of the book. Murdoch has created an entertaining story where not much happens. Yes, events occur but very little actually happens. Much of the narrative is Jake obsessing about particularities and the reader is able to witness just how much things spiral out of control in Jake's head.
Iris Murdoch is a masterful writer and her words are to be savored. Under the Net is not her strongest novel but it is still a sound example of great writing. She excels writing about ridiculous situations and events and yet never do the most absurd situations feel forced. Under the Net is probably one of her most accessible novels and while it isn't her best, it isn't a bad starting point for someone new to her writing....more
Iris Murdoch never ceases to amaze me, and A Fairly Honourable Defeat is no exception. She takes what could be a tragic story of deception, unrealizedIris Murdoch never ceases to amaze me, and A Fairly Honourable Defeat is no exception. She takes what could be a tragic story of deception, unrealized dreams, and marital infidelity, and turns the tables in such a way that the victims seem to deserve all they receive and the aggressors appear innocent of any wrongdoing. Murdoch's deft touch still provides some room to sympathize with the weaker characters on the losing end, but overall the novel is an entertaining ride exploring what happens when bad things happen to good people, while allowing the reader the space to cheer for those responsible for the pain and suffering. ...more
I always experience a mix of emotion when I reread a beloved book. Excitement that I'm going to spend hours with something I've proven to love but atI always experience a mix of emotion when I reread a beloved book. Excitement that I'm going to spend hours with something I've proven to love but at the same time trepidation that for some reason, the story will fail to captivate me as much as previously. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find that, upon rereading, I find I love the book even more than I did originally. Such is the case with The Green Knight.
The Green Knight traces the lives of a group of people loosely arranged as a family more so because of their proximity than blood. They live comfortably with little drama until a startling incident drops a man they all thought was dead into their lives. This action kicks off a series of events that forces each of them to re-examine their relationships with each other, as well as grapple with the realizations that people are not always who they say they are and that not every one is intrinsically good.
Murdoch's characters are always odd in some sense or another. When reading any of her novels, I find myself repeatedly thinking, "But no one would ever do that," yet her characters always do. However, because Murdoch imbues her writing with so much philosophy and theology, the unexpected actions of her characters always seem justified. So instead of thinking that early 20-something Harvey would never attempt seduction with middle aged Tessa, it becomes reasonable in light of Oedipus. The result is that Murdoch's books are *interesting* in a way that many are not - the plots can be ridiculous and the characters eccentric but the writing is so intelligent that it all makes sense.
The Green Knight is one of Murdoch's most accessible novels, and is a good place to start if you haven't read her before. ...more