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The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
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Aug 20, 07

Read in August, 2007

Martin Amis (in his more or less essential collection "The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000") refers to this as one of her best. In it (or with it), Murdoch plunges full-scale into the realm of the Nabokovian unreliable narrator and even, I think, tips her hat directly to Lolita and Pale Fire in spots. Lots of plot developments (usually in the form of marital infidelity) tend to keep her books moving rapidly and she's not above a bit of melodrama - in some cases she gets her characters into such insoluble dilemmas that she has to conjure up a war or revolution to kill a couple of them off, a sort of Lucifer ex machina, to end the emotional crisis. In this case, the Humbert-styled narrative voice and assorted other modernist tropes leave you uncertain what actually happened, another way out of the bind and sometimes a cheap one (c.f. my complaints about Amis's own "Night Train") but in this case it works.
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