Description : First published in 1961, The Severed Head is regarded is one of Iris Murdochâe(tm)s most entertaining works. A dark and ferocious comic masterpiece, the novel traces the turbulent emotional journey of Martin Lynch-Gibbon, a smug, well-to-do London wine merchant and unfaithful husband, whose life is turned inside out when his wife leaves him for her psychoanalyst. In The Sea, the Sea the landscape shifts to the seclusion of an isolated house on the edge of Englandâe(tm)s North Sea, where Charles Arrowby, a big name in Londonâe(tm)s glittering theatrical world, has retired to write his memoirs. Arrowbyâe(tm)s plans begin to unravel when he meets his first love and becomes haunted by the idea of rekindling his adolescent passion. The Severed Head and Booker prize-winner The Sea, the Sea are two of Iris Murdochâe(tm)s most accomplished novels, displaying all her talent for combining profundity with playful creativity. Both tragic and comic, brooding and hilarious, they brilliantly reveal how much our lives are governed by the lies we tell ourselves as well as our all-consuming desire for love, significance and, ultimately, redemption.
Description : Martin believes he can possess both a beautiful wife and a delightful lover. But when his wife, Antonia, suddenly leaves him for her psychoanalyst, Martin is plunged into an intensive emotional re-education. He attempts to behave beautifully and sensibly. Then he meets a woman whose demonic splendour at first repels him and later arouses a consuming and monstrous passion. How will he survive it?
Description : Bradley Pearson, an unsuccessful novelist in his late fifties, has finally left his dull office job as an Inspector of Taxes. Bradley hopes to retire to the country, but predatory friends and relations dash his hopes of a peaceful retirement. He is tormented by his melancholic sister, who has decided to come live with him; his ex-wife, who has infuriating hopes of redeeming the past; her delinquent brother, who wants money and emotional confrontations; and Bradley's friend and rival, Arnold Baffin, a younger, deplorably more successful author of commercial fiction. The ever-mounting action includes marital cross-purposes, seduction, suicide, abduction, romantic idylls, murder, and due process of law. Bradley tries to escape from it all but fails, leading to a violent climax and a coda that casts shifting perspectives on all that has preceded.
Description : These never before published writings comprise Iris Murdoch's passionate wartime correspondence with two early intimates: the poet Frank Thompson, brother of the historian E.P. Thompson, who was killed in 1944, and David Hicks, with whom she had a dramatic affair, engagement, and breakup. It also includes the journal that Murdoch kept as a touring actress during August of 1939. The selection sheds new light on a brilliant young mind ("sharp and polished as a sword" as Frances Wilson describes it), while painting a vivid picture of life during the Second World War.
Description : VINTAGE CLASSICS MURDOCH: Funny, subversive, fearless and fiercely intelligent, Iris Murdoch was one of the great writers of the twentieth century. To celebrate her centenary Vintage Classics presents special editions of her greatest and most timeless novels. WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY DAISY JOHNSON ‘I saw a monster rising from the waves.' Charles Arrowby has determined to spend the rest of his days in hermit-like contemplation. He buys a mysteriously damp house on the coast, far from the heady world of the theatre where he made his name, and there he swims in the sea, eats revolting meals and writes his memoirs. But then he meets his childhood sweetheart Hartley, and memories of her lovely, younger self crowd in – along with more recent lovers and friends – to disrupt his self-imposed exile. So instead of 'learning to be good', Charles proceeds to demonstrate how very bad he can be. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 1978.
Description : Iris Murdoch produced twenty-six novels in forty years. The last of these, Jackson's Dilemma, was published in 1995, four years before her death. Murdoch's interest in moral problems inclined her towards what could be seen as an unusual view of human character and human life, leading her to create bizarre situations and offer unsettling solutions which frequently challenge and intrigue the reader. This essential introduction to one of Britain's best-known writers guides the reader through the full range of Murdoch's fictional output, tracing basic patterns which run throughout Murdoch's work and showing how the novels help to elucidate one another. The revised, updated and expanded new edition takes into account certain details which have emerged following Murdoch's death in 1999, incorporates the latest scholarship and offers fuller treatment of a number of novels. The second edition also gives more weight to the development of the moral discourse which is predominant in Murdoch's work. From the mid-sixties onwards, Murdoch was intensely concerned with the problems of Good and Evil in a godless world. In the later novels, particularly those of the eighties and nineties, she posited the possibility of mystic personalities who influence others from a position beyond the normal parameters of our world. Hilda D. Spear examines these mystic, and mysterious, fictions in the later chapters of her study, and argues that Jackson's Dilemma should be viewed as Murdoch's 'unfinished novel'.
Description : Henry and Cato is the story of two prodigal sons. Henry returns from a self-imposed exile in America to an unforeseen inheritance of wealth and land in England. He is also returning to his mother. His friend Cato is struggling with two ambiguous intermingled passions, one for a God who may or may not exist, the other for a petty criminal who may or may not be capable of salvation. Cato's father and his sister Colette wait anxiously to welcome Cato back to sanity after his dubious escapades. Henry meanwhile confronts his mother, the unappeased furies of childish resentment, and various possibilities of revenge. Henry's cool mother watches, Cato's impetuous sister intervenes. Can love here become a saving force, or is it condemned to be possessive and demonic? Blackmail and violence take a hand, and both Henry and Cato return home at last.
Description : Guilt, secrets, and lies haunt two men whose lives are bound by a long-ago tragedy in this “riveting” novel by the author of The Sea, The Sea (Los Angeles Times). Twenty years ago, Hilary Burde’s story was one of remarkable success and enviable courage. Having brought himself out of a troubled childhood with only his intellect and wit, he was one of the most promising scholars at Oxford, a student with a rare talent for linguistics and an unquenchable drive. Until the accident. Now, forty-one and a decidedly ordinary failure, Hilary finds his quietly angry routine shattered when his old professor reappears in his life—a man whose own demons are tied to Hilary’s and the tragedy from years ago. As the two men begin to circle each other once again, digging up old wrongs and seeking forgiveness for long-buried ills, they find themselves on a path that will either grant them both redemption or destroy them both forever. Haunting and emotional, A Word Child is an intimate look at the madness of regret by the Man Booker Prize–winning author of Under the Net and A Severed Head.