Iris Murdoch discussion

Introducing the Iris Murdoch group

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message 1: by Drew (last edited Feb 05, 2009 12:51AM) (new)

Drew (drewmelck) | 2 comments Mod
Welcome to the Iris Murdoch group, a space to discuss and celebrate Dame Iris's life and work. I've been enjoying her books for the past decade, and whenever I don't know what to read next, I can always turn to one of her novels. What really makes her stand out for me is the wonderful confluence of linguistic and stylistic fluidity (she's as readable as Evelyn Waugh), with thematic and philosophical density (she's as deep as W.G. Sebald).

Among my favourites novels are: Under the Net, The Bell, The Black Prince, The Message to the Planet and The Sea, The Sea. What are your favourites?

message 2: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 3 comments Hello, Drew:

I've been waiting for a group like this for a long time, and I'm glad I found it. About myself: I am a university English professor who stumbled upon Murdoch in graduate school (back in my *youth*) and although I have not taught Murdoch, she is one of my favorite writers whose works I read during the summer on my time off. Currently, I am just about finished with "The Sea, The Sea." I've found some useful journal articles about it.


message 3: by Joann (new)

Joann (joann_l) | 15 comments A group on my favorite author. What fun. Looks like there hasn't been much activity here. I'm new to GR, so I'm still feeling my way. I think I've read almost all of Murdoch's novels, but some so long ago, I'm about to start some selective re-reads. Any suggestions?

message 4: by Drew (last edited Aug 04, 2009 12:58AM) (new)

Drew (drewmelck) | 2 comments Mod
I recently re-read Under the Net, her first novel. I think it offers an fascinating insight into a time and a culture that have more or less disappeared. At the same time it's aged very well: the prose is vibrant, the descriptions vivid, and the metaphysics are quintessential Murdoch.
On a side-note I also read James Woods' How Fiction Works recently and he admonishes Murdoch for her overplotting. A better author would reduce rather than elaborate, he says. I must admit that I do agree to a certain extent, especially when I think of even some of my favorite Murdoch books, such as The Black Prince or The Message to the Planet. The former is dense and pungent, a cramped London tale, while the latter is bright and airy, a (mainly) country yarn. But both are plotted to the point of hypercombobulation (pardon the neologism) - either something you detest or just enjoy the ride, I suppose. Generally I fall into the latter category but sometimes it does feel rather like someone (Dame Iris for example) is trying to imprint a tremendously complex tatoo on my consciousness.

message 5: by Joann (new)

Joann (joann_l) | 15 comments Yes, I really like Under the Net. I guess I just like most of her writing. I don't analyze the why of it too much. The complaints I hear most often have to do with the difficulty of getting into to the story. I don't understand this. I figure any novelist is entitled to 50 pages or so to get started. But I guess in this age of immediate gratification, that's asking a lot. It's hard to pick favorites, but The Philosopher's Pupil really sticks in my head. Nuns and Soldiers too, and it's a bit unusual for having 2 women as lead characters. The Book and the Brotherhood, The Good Apprentice, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, An Accidental Man, The Bell, A Severed Head. I don't think I ever read The Black Prince might be one I missed, but I've been reading her work since the 1970s so maybe I forgot. Perhaps I should start with that.

message 6: by Lucy (new)

Lucy | 4 comments A Murdoch group, brilliant! I'm still working my way through her catalogue; I started in no particular order but have recently joined a Murdoch a Month reading group; they're reading them chronologically, so I've fallen in with their regime.

Anyway, favourites so far: The Bell, The Sea The Sea, and Henry and Cato, which was a surprise as it was a totally unkown quantity - there's very little discussion of it anywhere. I found it full of humour and suspense! I also liked The Sandcastle, A Severed Head and The Nice and The Good - couldn't get on with The Black Prince, though. I'm currently reading Nuns and Soldiers, which I'm warming to nicely after being slightly put off by the long-winded Polish history lessons in the first chapter.

message 7: by Joann (new)

Joann (joann_l) | 15 comments Very nice to hear your comments. I'm at a re-read stage for most all her work. I remember liking Henry and Cato, though the details escape me. The one novel I missed, The Black Prince, which many critics consider her best, I got halfway though recently. It seemed too tangled with characters I couldn't really develop much feeling for. I get most books from the library, so I plan to take it out again and see if I can finish it. One side comment. I like to listen to books on CDs, and for some reason, I can't find one of her works on CD in several library systems in my major metropolitan area. I guess I have to take it to the sources, such as Recorded Books, Blackstone, etc., and see if something can be done.

message 8: by Lucy (new)

Lucy | 4 comments Joann wrote: "Very nice to hear your comments. I'm at a re-read stage for most all her work. I remember liking Henry and Cato, though the details escape me. The one novel I missed, The Black Prince, which many c..."

Hi Joann, thank you for your thoughts!

I get my books from the library, too. And like you, I do intend to have another go at The Black Prince. I felt bad about giving up on it, especially as I had looked forward to it so much .. party because of other people's praise for it, and partly because of the Hamlet allusions. But I was comforted to find most of my reading group couldn't get on with it either, so perhaps it is genuinely hard going?

I'm finding your comment about giving one's self time to get into the books very true - Nuns and Soldiers was not immediately appealing to me, but now I'm far enough in to be totally hooked!

Hope you can find a good source of audio books, they're great aren't they?

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

My county library system has only one of Iris Murdoch's books on audio, and it's on audiocassette; I need CD.

I searched Blackstone on line and couldn't find anything on CD. I did get a couple of Muriel Spark's books on CD from Blackstone a while back, but nothing by Murdoch.

Let me know if you have any luck. I spend alot of time in my car and like to listen to books on occasion.

message 10: by Lucy (new)

Lucy | 4 comments Hay Marge, good stumble! I hope you enjoy the rest of the book - I think you will. You are in for a treat now, there are so many more good Murdochs to read!

message 11: by Christy (new)

Christy | 3 comments I'm a big fan of Murdoch and just found this group. I am rationing my Murdoch reading since there are a finite number of her novels. (I can't stand the idea of not having another to look forward to!) My absolute favorite so far is The Black Prince. It made me laugh out loud. Also loved The Sea, The Sea and The Book and the Brotherhood.

From reading some of the other comments on this board, it sounds like I'm lucky that my local library here in Kansas has a decent number of her novels. Not all of them by any means, but quite a few.

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