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Iris Murdoch: A Life: The Authorized Biography: A Life - The Authorized Biography Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Length: 736 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Product Description

From the Publisher

A full and revealing biography of one of the century’s greatest English writers and an icon to a generation.

About the Author

From 1997 Peter Conradi was Professor Emeritus, Kingston University, and Honorary Research Fellow at UCL; from 1999 he has been Visiting Research Fellow at Magdalen, Oxford. His critical study, IRIS MURDOCH: THE SAINT AND THE ARTIST (Macmillan, 1986), was described by the NYTBR as ‘Brilliant’ and will be reissued by HarperCollins.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1293 KB
  • Print Length: 770 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (14 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000653175X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006531753
  • ASIN: B004WC07YG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,700 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book transformed my idea of Iris Murdoch, in whom I had not previously shown much interest, and made me regret that I had paid so little attention to her when she was alive.

It was interesting to me because I am interested in philosophy, don't mind a lot of exposure (occasionally) to what the Oxbridge elite are up to, am quite interested by the philosopher/novelist combination, and despite those dusty credentials, not at all put of by a colourful love life.

My impression, somewhat tendentiously perhaps, is of a woman who dedicated her whole life to her career as a novelist (her philosophy was I feel a junior but integral partner), to an extent which I had not imagined possible.
Not because she slaved away at it 24/7, but because I got the impression that the very rich and interesting social and sexual side of her life was all research for her novels (not specific but general background).
She was emotionally promiscuous, falling in love with a startling number of people, which is much more interesting than mere sexual promiscuity, and love perhaps was the central theme of her fiction.

Philosophically, one of her central themes was morality, the good.
One thing this book did not do for me (nor any other) was give me any comprehension of her conception of the good which was consistent with her life, her novels, and her philosophical writings.
She remains to me an enigma, which will probably never be dispelled (as to her philosophical views).

I do not write book reviews (does it show?), this is my third book review at amazon.
I do it only for books which have had real impact upon me, and this was one of them.
And I enjoyed reading it too.
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Format: Paperback
An impressively researched and very well-written account of the life of one of 20th-century Britain's most prolific novelists, who was also, at various times, a Communist, a civil servant, a philosophy don, a teacher of philosophy in an art college, and the lover of many learned men, including the polymath Franz Baerman Steiner and the writer Elias Canetti. Conradi, a close friend of Murdoch, describes the various periods of Murdoch's life and the people she associated with very vividly, in dense, at times almost poetic language, with many interesting quotes from Murdoch's own diaries and her friends' accounts of her. Her childhood in London (daughter of Irish parents who moved to London and lived a very quiet life), schooling at Badminton under a Quaker headmistress who remained a close friend, wild days in Oxford acting, working furiously, making many friends, and falling in love with tutors Eduard Frankel, Donald Mackinnon and with fellow student Frank Thompson, her experiences in wartime London and her life as an Oxford don and - after Franz Steiner's death - as a member of Canetti's Jewish-emigre Hampstead circle, are beautifully brought to life. Conradi manages a vast cast of characters very well, so that the book at times is almost like a combination of a vast novel and a cultural history of 20th-century London and Oxford. In the second half of the book, following Iris Murdoch's marriage to don and critic John Bayley, Conradi begins concentrating more on Murdoch's novels (she began comparatively late as a novelist, in her 30s, and married Bayley just before beginning her fourth novel, 'The Bell').Read more ›
Comment 8 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
A few years before Iris Murdoch developed the Alzheimer's disease that afflicted her latter years, she was asked if it was true that someone was writing her biography. "Yes", she said, greatly surprised. "I don't read biographies, but apparently people buy them. But me? What is there to say about me?"

This was not just the humility that Peter Conradi, the biographer in question, reveals as one of Iris Murdoch's outstanding characteristics. It is a valid question. Literary biographers argue that an author's life is the very source of their writing, but most writers feel that connections between art and life are slippery, not easily discernible even to themselves.

Are the limitations of biography - the unreliability of source material like letters and diaries, the distortion inherent in squeezing a haphazard and multi-faceted life into a coherent narrative - justified by the end result? Or are the 3000 or so biographies published each year just Hello! for people who prefer words to pictures, satisfying only what Martin Amis once dubbed "eternal human vulgarity", our insatiable curiosity about the gifted or famous?

Never did such questions seem so pressing as when reading this first "Life" of the gifted writer Iris Murdoch. It's not that Peter Conradi isn't qualified to write about his subject. English Professor Emeritus at the University of Kingston, he was a friend of Murdoch's and was given access to journals, letters, papers and friends. He edited her non-fiction collection, Existentialists and Mystics and his study of her fiction, The Saint And The Artist, is now in its third edition.

Neither is this one of those dig-the-dirt exercises that has become popular in recent years and so discredited the genre.
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