Iris Murdoch

I did manage to finish the book reorganization yesterday, so now I’m continuing to highlight old friends I encountered in the process.

Iris Murdoch (1919 – 1999) was an English philosopher and novelist. Her area of philosophy was ethics, with a particular emphasis on virtue. Her many novels focused on the power and effect of love and relationship. She once wrote: Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality. [From “The Sublime and the Good”, in the Chicago Review, Vol. 13 Issue 3 (Autumn 1959) p. 51.]

One thing that has always impressed about Murdoch’s novels, which are complex but very enjoyable, is her amazing ability to write pages and pages of dialogue without any name reference, and you always know who is talking. My favorites among her novels are A Word Child, The Sea, the Sea (for which she won the Booker Prize), and The Black Prince. There are 26 novels, the last being Jackson’s Dilemma which she wrote when she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. There is also a lovely film about her journey through that disease with her husband, John Bayley, called Iris.

Here is an excellent recent article about her fiction:

Iris Murdoch on my bookshelf.

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