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The Flight from the Enchanter

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  675 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews

Businessman Mischa Fox has wealth, charisma, and an uncanny ability to influence those around him. When he moves to buy a small feminist magazine in London called the Artemis, Mischa becomes entangled in the lives of the Artemis’s editor, Hunter, his sister, Rosa, and her boarder, Annette, as well as their circle of friends.   As Mischa instigates a series of ominous event

Paperback, 287 pages
Published 1962 by Penguin Books (first published 1956)
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May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favourites
Interesting 50s office sexual politics: secretaries slowly and carefully getting promoted and taking over, unchallenged. Cold war influences re the sinister aspect of central/eastern Europe, plus a right-of-passage novel regarding one character.

Description: Annette runs away from her finishing school but learns more than she bargained for in the real world beyond; the fierce and melancholy Rosa is torn between two Polish brothers; Peter is obsessed by an indecipherable ancient script. This is a story of a group of people under a spell, and the centre of it all is the mysterious Mischa Fox, the enchanter.

Opening: It was about three o'clock on a Friday afternoon when Annette decided to leave school. An Italian lesson was in progress. In
May 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-from-1956

I don't personally know anyone who has read Iris Murdoch's novels. This is her second novel and only the second one I have read. I find her books so far, to be refreshingly unique. In this one she explores the hold a strong personality can have over other people, denying them the freedom to live by their own determinism.

Only gradually does the reader realize which character in the story is the enchanter and by then you are so invested in several of his victims' lives, that you fear for them and
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this a lot at the beginning; but by the end, I was kind of irritated and impatient to be done with it. Still, there is no gainsaying that Murdoch is an amazing writer. There are some extremely funny set pieces; there are elements of fable; and throughout it all, absolutely stunning prose - smooth, full of arresting but utterly convincing images, psychologically compelling.
Tracy Kendall
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!!!! Once again (as with The Bell), the characters jump at you and move on their own. She has a way of interconnecting various characters in surprising ways - selecting only 3 or 4 of them in which to use omniscient voice, and those character really do grab you and make you want to come back to the book. I did find Mischa intriguing, and wished that she would have used the omniscient voice with him, but maybe that would have ruined his power, as I took him to be the Enchanter.
Stephanie Pullen
"Never mind what they establish!" said Rosa. "So all your work was for nothing, for nothing!" She spoke half angrily, half in grief.

Jul 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My first foray into Murdoch's oeuvre has left me a little confused and muddled.
A complicated book that never really delivers what it promises; too many non-sequiturs.
The premise really never culminates into anything. The characters are imprisoned (and thereby narrowed) by their own inaction and fear and far too many of them dissolve into tears at the slightest provocation. It frustrated me. I didn't take to any individual or feel any pathos for their respective plights. I wanted to slap some s
Nina Milton
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Flight from the Enchanter was Murdoch's second book, but it was my first introduction to my number-one writing hero, which made me long to also write about love and power and goodness and beauty and what makes up a human being. Suddenly, at the age of twenty, I wanted to say great things, like Murdoch, who, being a professor of philosophy, has a far greater claim to be able to write such things than I will ever have. However, if we can’t be inspired by the great exemplars, what hope is there ...more
Stefania Pastori
L'INCANTATORE di Iris Murdoch mi ha lasciata perplessa, perché non l'ho capito. Ci sono tanti personaggi le cui vicende sono intrecciate, ho impiegato più o meno mezzo libro (composto da poco meno di 300 pagine) per cogliere chi fosse l'incantatore del titolo (il che, secondo la scuola di sceneggiatura da cui provengo, è UN DELITTO GRAVISSIMO!), sono rimasta abbastanza intrigata dalla prima parte, perché scorre veloce, è accattivante e stuzzichevole, anche sotto il profilo del sottile erotismo d ...more
Feb 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a group of people who love and fear the magician who affects all their lives: the ravishing and eccentric young Annette who, after swinging on a chandilier, runs away from her finishing school to enter the School of Life, and learns a good deal more than she bargained for: the fierce and melancholy Rosa, the mistress of two Polish brothers: her brother, editor of a down-at-heel magazine: the scholar, Peter Saward, obsessed by an indecipherale ancient script: Rainborough, a civil ser ...more
Zuzana Reveszova
I really enjoyed reading the novel. It is a very full story - nice composition of characters, intense narrative and deep insight of contemporary issues that might freeze you even nowadays - deportations, threats, illegal work etc.
I'm a devotee of almost any audiobook narrated by Robin Sachs, and he didn't disappoint in this audio edition of The Flight from the Enchanter.

This was my first Murdoch, and I have to admit that I found it more than a little confusing. I won't detail the plot; I'll just say that I still don't understand the denouement.

I think this audio version is available only from I'm not sorry that I used one of my "credits" on it. I may even listen to it again, if only to have 11 hrs of Sachs
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Murdoch seems to have a limitless talent for taking any idea, however promising, in the wrong direction. It may have something to do with her predilection for mythological and classical parallels. The problem is, you can't go chasing archetypes in this dogged manner. They invariably elude the direct approach, and more often than not the author is left high and dry.
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mixture of Agota Kristof, feminist novels and Bildungsroman (which wasn't). Charming and a bit haunting novel.
May God and readers save Learys secondhand bookshop in Inverness.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I enjoy most in a book is to get partway into one and find that I'm reading something quite unlike anything I've read before. This novel is very much like that. I have been stalking the used bookstores for years looking for a copy of Under The Net, and have not found one, but I did find this and quickly picked it up.
Very soon afterwards I was writing to a friend, telling her that I was reading a strange book, but a good one, that was very unusual. It is a small handful of books that glide
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
A book where apparently people never lock their doors and when you don't, a Polish guy will creep into your house and set your lil' brother's hair on fire.
Eva Arrhenius
In the beginning it seemed uneven and at times hard to stand the story. All comes together and is strangely memorable and fascinating. I have an urge to read more Iris Murdoch.
Less fantasy than I wanted, really, and it started to irritate me towards the end. Murdoch is a great writer but I was let down with the ending.
Andrew Kavanagh
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Flight from the Enchanter explores the complexities of many characters and how they are intersected through their acquaintance with the enigmatic press baron Mischa Fox. Fox, a polarizing force in their lives, seems to draw out what the notion of power represents to each one. To Nina the dressmaker, he represents fear, to Annette Cockeyne, the privileged debutante, he represents the magnetic allure of an absent father-figure, to frustrated scholar Peter Saward he is a riddle to be solved, to ...more
Aniko Carmean
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iris Murdoch has an unparalleled talent for putting her characters into awkward, flabbergasting messes. Each character's hideous bad decisions result in unintended outcomes that tend towards horrific. THE FLIGHT FROM THE ENCHANTER is Murdoch at her character-twisting finest.

Annette, youthful and vibrant, leaves school. She wants to go to the school of life, and despite two near-rapes, a ridiculous midnight (and half-naked) pursuit of a man old enough to be her father, and a silly suicide attemp
Verity Halliday
A strange book, read for my local book group as our March-April 2016 pick. I look forward to discussing this with people who remember the 1950's to see how the novel's atmosphere accords with their memories of the era.

I'm not sure how I feel about the book. There were some very funny parts, for example the elderly suffragettes arguing at the Artemis AGM, but also some very disturbing parts (view spoiler) which I didn't feel were a
Apr 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martin McClellan
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some explosive moments of brilliance (the darkroom, the board meeting, the Polish brothers' creepy storytelling), mixed with subtle development of unique and interesting characters. No gnashing of teeth over morality, so much as interesting insight into the motivations of what drives people.

Murdoch dramatizes some things that are small, and downplays the melodramatic. Her language terse, direct, and thoroughly commanding. As a second novel, it's so assured and even, a challenge some older write
[These notes were made in 1984:]. As usual with Murdoch, the characters are far more comprehensible than the plot, which ends on a note of despairing irresolution just as we are getting ready for our old marriage-at-the-end-of-the-book pattern. Mischa, the central enigma, plays with the lives of small creatures, loving and killing them, as God plays with the lives of men - or so, at least, I think we are supposed to think. Rosa, the main female, comes across as strong-minded, but remains curious ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first foray in to the world of Iris Murdoch and my early impressions are mixed. As many other reviewers have commented, the characters are definitely the strength of this book. They are all well conceived, fleshed out and mesh with one another believably. The story was in many ways quite life-like as opposed to quite novel-like. By this, I mean that it meanders and wanders without any particular meaning or direction, yet everything ties together. Some chapters made for a compelling a ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murdoch's second novel, featuring a large cast of intricately related characters, all in one way or another "enchanted" by the mysterious Mischa Fox, all of them trying to achieve some sort of freedom, and each making one bad decision after another and suffering for it. I didn't really identify with any of the author's character-victims, and I don't think she did either. Each is an example of yet another way of how not to act. Nevertheless often quite funny, and always written with great care an ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one rather randomly at the library, having heard of Iris Murdoch but never read anything by her. After reading some of the reviews of the book here, I was kind of sceptic, but also curious. Turned out to be a really fun and different read, which gave me a good reading experience. As others say - there are a lot of different characters, but I really liked the way they are all connected to each other.
I've already got more books by Murdoch ready and am looking forward to other hopeful
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A savagely farcical novel concocting the anxiety-stricken lives of several people all held in the snare of the dangerously charming Mischa Fox - the eponymous enchanter. Desperate to keep their infidelities under wraps, the characters engage in ludicrous activities in order to protect their already tainted reputation. At times the heavy, hypnotic prose is a little frustrating but relatively satisfying to all Murdoch-ites.
Kathryn Hurn
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have read twice. Was my first Murdoch and I was enchanted within three pages.
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Я обожаю Мёрдок. Два романа (Черный рыцарь и Колокол) - великие, остальные - никак не ниже четырех звездочек.
В этом - эпическая завязка, с десяток ярких героев, но ближе к концу они разбегаются и разъезжаются, вполне буквально.
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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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