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Good Apprentice

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,129 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
"A brilliant entertainment." (Harold Bloom, The New York Times Book Review)

Edward Baltram is overwhelmed with guilt. His nasty little prank has gone horribly wrong: He has fed his closest friend a sandwich laced with a hallucinogenic drug and the young man has fallen out of a window to his death. Edward searches for redemption through a reunion with his famous father, the
Paperback, 528 pages
Published January 6th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1985)
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Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
"I expect you will have heard by now that I am going to marry Giles Brightwalton. We have known and loved each other for ages, but Giles kept thinking he was really homosexual."

Oh, Iris, you're so nuts. I enjoyed this ... but it was a bit overwrought and...:

1) I thought Harry didn't come across as very sexy at all. At one point he was wearing a red bowtie with a black leather jacket!

2) When was this supposed to be set?

3) Folloing on from 2), if you're a millionaire in Thatcher's Britain and you'
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
five or six perspective characters, all from very close third POV, usually introduced by a long passage of dialog without hardly any tags like "he said," or "she slapped him," just a segue of blank space on the page, a preface to set the scene, and then four of five pages of solid dialog, followed by five or ten pages of intricate internal monolog.

she's crazy good at giving a sense of distinct characters' changing states of mind, and does some wild acrobatics with plot twists and convergences wh
Stephen Brody
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would take a very bold, impertinent, critic to say that any of Iris Murdoch’s mature novels was ‘best’. Nonetheless, I’ll risk that audacity and give first place to The Black Prince and The Sea, the Sea, closely followed by this one. Murdoch is not just a superlative master of English prose but of Englishness, and how is that to be summarised – hearts of oak with shiftily variable foliage? Deceit and ambiguity are built into the language, and here at its most subtle joy and grief, love and ha ...more
Italo  Perazzoli
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'There is so much good that we can all do, & we must have the energy to do it.' -The Good Apprentice (Brownie)

The Prodigal Son is a long chapter where the author introduces the main characters.
“He was a God, he had become divine, he was experiencing the good absolute, the vision of the visions, the annihilation of the ego.”

Ego, in psychoanalytic theory, that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the “self” or “I” and is in contact with the external world through perception
Erin Quinney
Jul 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"What a load of hogwash." Yeah, that's what went through my mind every time one of these awful and self-absorbed characters went off on a pseudo-intellectual soliloquy about their latest unbelievable drama. Oh, and the italics. They were simply dreadful and overused and distracting. Every other word was in italics. I didn't like any of the characters. Not a single one. I felt bad for Stuart because everybody hated him and told him so and he was the only one who showed a shred of decency. I still ...more
Mar 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
So after years of hearing about her--murkily, if admiringly, I now realize--I have finally dived in. Murdoch is...awful. What's worse, she is awful in all the things she lavishes so much care--or at least pages--on, so that it doesn't feel like an accident, with better novels awaiting me.

Take Jungian archetypes (the elvish sisters, the wizardly men, the Death portents in human form, the innocent hero on a quest, the evil stepmothers), stir them into a soap opera plot of crises, coincidence and
André Bogaert
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hoe gaat een moderne mens, die niet (meer) in God gelooft, om met de kronkels van zijn innerlijk leven: met schuldgevoel, doodsverlangen, verliefdheid, trouw en ontrouw, vriendschap enz. Iris Murdoch legt de pogingen van haar tijdgenoten om met die innerlijke realiteiten klaar te komen in het lang en het breed vast in haar boek: De Leertijd. Ik raad het boek aan aan al wie zich zorgen maakt om de mens van morgen, de mens die door het wegvallen van de eerder geruststellende en in die zin gemakkel ...more
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iris Murdoch novels always seem like transmissions from an alternate history where upper-middle-class British intellectuals enact 20th century life crises in the manner of stately 19th century novels. They’re all great (if all more or less the same), and everything hangs together beautifully and everything, but I always have a background impression of Patrick Stewart running around the Holodeck in a coachman’s hat or something. In fact, in The Good Apprentice, Edward would be a clear Wil Wheaton ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Murdoch is a highly respected author, but this is just plain boring, with stilted conversations that are totally implausible & repetitious. The author is just way too self-indulgent, which is too bad, because the moral themes at the heart of the story could be compelling.
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
Dense with closely knit characters (three or four families) and improbable (deliberately improbable) coincidences. The weird commune/shrine to the still-living "god" artist Jesse will probably stick with me longest. The catalytic event is striking: what can a young man who inadvertently kills his dearest friend DO in order to cope with the rest of life? Many of the other inclusions seem oddly beside the point: characters entangled in a rather ordinary love affair (but not graced with the quiet p ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Specifically, I rate the audiobook with 3 stars. I have loved Iris Murdoch's writing and have counted her as one of my favorite writers. Her books have eccentric characters, are beautifully worded, philosophical, and psychological. Nothing happens, they are terribly long and British.

I began thinking about the experience of audiobooks. This one went on forever. I realized I read faster than listening to an audio book. And I love words, looking at them, mulling over them. I really like reading to
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is my first read of Iris Murdoch, and after taking a while to adjust to her, I found myself completely absorbed. The book follows the internal emotional workings of half a dozen characters in response to changing events in their lives. While I was reading this book, I was asked several time what it was about. As my reading progressed, I found myself answering that the book is about good and evil (terms I don't use frequently or lightly), but that it's not simple... it's very complex. Nothin ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of british novels & the philosophy of ethics
It's a familiar enough device: two brothers choose (or are fated to) opposite but complementary paths, and literature ensues. In this case, one searches for redemption from his own crushing guilt, and one wants to live a life beyond moral reproach -- both try to do so without the nudge of a belief in a higher power. Iris Murdoch is a trained philosopher, and this is a very British novel, rife with symbolism & achetypal allusions. I liked it, but it was long in spots and the dialogues/inner m ...more
Jennifer Hu
Because she was one of the 20th century's most important female philosophers, I decided to give Murdoch's novel a shot. Edward falls into a pit of guilt after lacing his friend's sandwhich with drugs; his friend falls out of a window to his death. The story is loony and peculiar rather than terribly gripping. Probably would have appreciated more had I any background in moral philosophy worth speaking of.
Mind Bird
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
It's been years since I read this, but I still remember even small details (the resting places for things on their way to another room, the girl dancing in the forest), while there are countless other books I have read since that I don't remember anything about. Iris Murdoch is one of the immortals.
Mar 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book drove me nuts, though I read it all the way through. Too much coincidence in the story line for plot device, weirdly portrayed characters, weak main character ... I could go on but I will not. Because that would keep reminding me how much I disliked this book.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So many edgy jokes about "repressed homosexuals", yawn.
John Cairns
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
The p18 quote is from Macbeth. By dromos she actually does mean temenos, a sacred area or precinct. I agree with the psychiatrist, sex is the spirit made matter or, as he says, substance when talking of Stuart's apprenticeship to goodness though it's his brother is the main character, burdened by guilt or an angel of death. Though it is Edward too who is expected to do good and does help resolve things, putting Stuart's catalytic effect into perspective.

The p144 quotation is from Tennyson and t
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
I have really enjoyed all the previous Iris Murdoch books I have read, and was looking forward to this one with the topic of a young man learning to live with the consequences of his actions having inadvertantly led to the death of his best friend.

I had such a hard time getting into the book, and if it were not Iris Murdoch I would not have plowed on. I found it so hard to care about the characters, and there was so much philosophy built into the text that it really dragged, and still left me no
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I will grow old and I won't forget you, but I can't let you destroy me. My life belongs to others, those who are here now and those who are to come." (515)

A bit too philosophical for my taste. I enjoyed it enough but the fact that I was able to take a 6 month brake from the book and never quite feel the urge to read it during that time shows just how invested I was hahaha
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It left me wondering for weeks after reading it.
Karen Connelly
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
agree with some others on this one: "Overwrought"
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[These notes were made in 1987:]. Like all Murdochs, this is a tremendously involved and complex novel, but there is at least emotional unity to it - or perhaps I am merely more attuned to this unity than I have been in her earlier stuff. This novel is about grief and loss - living through it, surviving it, taking responsibility for your actions without destroying yourself. It also, as the cover blurb quite rightly says, is about the problem of being good. Plot? There's Edward, a heedless young ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another amazing Iris Murdoch book, the fourth that I have read. It took me rather a long time to get into it, however: I struggled with the lengthy dinner-party passage near the beginning, and a ‘dramatis personae’ list would have been useful to help remember who is who and how they are all related.

Part two of the book, taking place in a ramshackle kind of castle called Seegard, left me astonished. A mysterious, dominant matriarch lives at Seegard, with her two daughters, leading a kind
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. Came apart a bit in the last 5 or 10%....
Jonathan Shaw
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With an audiobook, there are always two things to review: the text itself, and the narrator's treatment of it.

Regarding the text: it's a great story about a young man's experience with remorse for accidentally causing his friend's death. The title is misleading -- Stuart (the "good apprentice" who is seeking to do good) is not the main character. Rather, the narrative focuses on Stuart's brother Edward, and how he deals with his intense feelings of guilt. Stuart and other characters are describe
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
В самом начале (страницы после 50 примерно) есть нудный кусок с разговорами ни о чём (что даже в какой-то момент отмечает одно из действующих лиц), размышлениями ни о чём, предложениями ни о чём. Весьма раздражающий. Возможно, он зачем-то нужен. Но мне это неизвестно.
Заканчивается он в районе приезда Эдварда в Сигард.
И дальше становится можно читать нормально. Но потом внезапно происходит то, что происходит. Мидж после Сигарда. Можно не обращаться внимания на неестественное поведение 2/3 героев
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I enjoyed this Iris Murdoch novel - the 22nd read in the Murdoch challenge- although I think it is a little over long. I really liked poor old Edward, and sort of liked Stuart although he isn't such a presence in the novel. After the death of his friend, Edward is in a terrible state - guilt and self hatred drive him away from his home. He arrives at the home of his natural father whom he hasn't seen since childhood. Here he finds a rather different way of living, an almost monastic household, h
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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
More about Iris Murdoch...