Context: Read most of this in the forest at the end of my mum’s garden in Portugal.
Sometimes I read a book, get to the end and wonder why the author wrote it. Iris Murdoch presented my sister with her degree it turns out and, if I ever meet her myself, I’d like her to present me with a reason why she wrote this novel.
It was her first and, on the strength of it, I’m surprised she went on to do as well as she did. Mind you, Woolf started with The Voyage Out so there’s hope for us all.
The story turns full circle which, in itself, is a bit frustrating. Even the narrator comments on this at the end. There are a few slapstick episodes of humour interspersed with some bits of amateur philosophy. On the whole though, I didn’t think these work well in the 21st century. They must have been wonderful in 1954 though.
The book made me chuckle in a few places simple because Murdoch does have a way with idioms. “A liquid slit in a warm expanse of brown fur” is a cat’s eye, for example. But it was the characters themselves which I found a bit shallow.
It was like a more fleshed out version of Vile Bodies meets One the Road crossed with Catcher in the Rye. The women were forever saying “darling” and “divine” while the men had golden opportunities to better themselves and wasted them time after time. In fact, the narrator was a likeable combination of Holden Caulfield and Dean Moriarty if such a thing is possible.
So, disappointing on the whole and, as there are three more of hers to read on the 1001 list, I’m hoping for more from those.
When I saw Finn waiting for me at the corner of the street I knew at once that something had gone wrong.
It’s easier to sell junk when you’re known than works of genius when you’re unknown.
“It’s just one of the wonders of the world.”
rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb