Iris Murdoch

BookIris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch

Writers and Their Work


May 31st, 2019



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Iris Murdoch was both a popular and intellectually serious novelist, whose writing life spanned the latter half of the twentieth century. A proudly Anglo-Irish writer who produced twenty-six best-selling novels, she was also a respected philosopher, a theological thinker and an outspoken public intellectual. This thematically based study outlines the overarching themes that characterise her fiction decade by decade, explores her unique role as a British philosopher-novelist, explains the paradoxical nature of her outspoken atheism and highlights the neglected aesthetic aspect of her fiction, which innovatively extended the boundaries of realist fiction. While Iris Murdoch is acknowledged here as a writer who vividly evokes the zeitgeist of the late twentieth century, she is also presented as a figure whose unconventional life and complex presentation of gender and psychology has immense resonance for twenty-first-century readers.

'This new overview of Murdoch's life, coming as it does in her centenary year, brings together fresh materials on her life and work and will be a central resource for students, teachers, academics and the general reader. Rowe builds on her vast knowledge of Murdoch – and her earlier published work – to bring out the fullest examination of Murdoch's life and work to date. This is a book by an academic at the height of her powers'.
Dr Miles Leeson, Director of the Iris Murdoch Research Centre, University of Chichester

‘The leading Murdoch scholar Anne Rowe, in an effective new critical study, emphasises the relevance to Murdoch’s future reputation of society’s increasing openness to “more complex variations in sexual and psychological make-up”. The old myth that Murdoch only writes about leisured middle-class heterosexuals who live in big houses has in turn bred the more recent myth that nobody could possibly bother reading her nowadays...’
Leo Robson, The New Statesman


‘Anne Rowe, a scrupulous Murdoch scholar of many years’ standing, has written a slim but comprehensive overview of the writer’s career, attending successively to aspects of her output in both genres, encompassing matters intellectual, spiritual, experiential and geographical.’
Stuart Walton, The London Magazine

Author Information

Anne Rowe is Visiting Professor at the University of Chichester and Emeritus Research Fellow at Kingston University, where she was Associate Professor and Director of the Iris Murdoch Archive Project (2004-2016).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Biographical Outline11
Introduction: Iris Murdoch (1919–1999)17
1. A Writing Life: 1954–199525
2. Writing the Novel of Ideas: The Philosopher and Public Intellectual57
3. Writing Sacraments: The Holy Atheist75
4. Writing ‘A New Vocabulary of Experience’96
5. Writing the Landscape: The Island of Spells and the Sacred City114
Afterword: 'Onward!’131
Select Bibliography147