Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch... brilliant writer of scintillating prose, philosopher, fearless sexual adventurer, communist, and sharp observer of the human condition. Definitely qualifies as a top-notch bluestocking. Three cheers for Iris!

Her later novels went off the boil a bit, but the glittering and claustrophobic atmosphere of The Bell (about a small quirky spiritual community and its internal tensions) assures its place as a classic. Her writing style was similar to that of A S Byatt (another great bluestocking). I can honestly say that Iris Murdoch taught me to look at the world in a different way.

She read classics, ancient history, and philosophy at Somerville College, Oxford, and philosophy as a postgraduate at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she attended a number of Ludwig Wittgenstein's lectures. In 1948, she became a fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford.

There are even videos of her on YouTube. Whatever next? It's almost as though intellectuals were becoming popular and mainstream!


  1. Oh God--I've tried with La Murdoch, I really have. 'The Sea, the Sea', 'Bruno's Dream', 'The Good Apprentice' and 'The Flight from the Enchanter'--read 'em all. They always seem to be about men called Lindsey and women called Julian visiting their psychoanalysts in Hampstead, or standing in country houses watching the snow whilst wearing lumpy stockings and discussing the sovereignty of the Good. As Victoria Wood said: 'I've got a Margaret Drabble to finish:- just to see what doesn't happen at the end.'

    Sorry, I know I'm a terrible prole. :(

  2. Like I said, early Iris is much better (The Bell, Under the Net, The Italian Girl). Thing is, I like the world as she describes it. I wouldn't want to live there, but it's fun to visit. And it suited my angsty teenage taste in reading, so I retain enormous fondness for it.