Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)

“Irish-born novelist and philosopher. Murdoch’s novels are noted for intricacy of plot and character, psychological penetration, and subtlety of style, with a with that changes from recondite irony to the crazily comic. Their structure is elaborate and unrealistic, often concerning a group of characters who become involved with each other through a complex network of love affairs. People’s need for love and freedom are explored as part of their greater need to affirm their own reality. In Under the Net (1954), The Bell (1958), and An Unofficial Rose (1962), the twin philosophical questions are posed: how free can man be and how much can he know himself? Among her many works are the novels The Flight from the Enchanter (1956), The Sandcastle (1961), A Severed Head (1961), The Unicorn (1963), An Accidental Man (1972), Henry and Cato (1972), The Sea, the Sea (1978; Booker Prize for literature), and Nuns and Soldiers (1980), as well as a study of Sartre, Romantic Rationalist (1953), and The Fire and the Sun (1977), a discussion of Plato’s aesthetic theory. Her later novels are The Philosopher’s Pupil (1982), The Good Apprentice (1985), and The Message of the Planet (1989). In 1987 Murdoch was made a Dame of the British Empire.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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