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The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (Penguin Books) [Paperback]

Iris Murdoch
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Oct 1976 Penguin Books
Swinging between his wife and his mistress in the sacred and profane love machine and between the charms of morality and the excitements of sin, the psychotherapist, Blaise Gavender, sometimes wishes he could divide himself in two. Instead, he lets loose misery and confusion and--for the spectators at any rate--a morality play, rich in reflections upon the paradoxes of human life and the nature of the battle between sacred and profane love.

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The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (Penguin Books) + A Fairly Honourable Defeat (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Oct 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140041117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140041118
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 13.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A novel of infinite variety and intelligence; the work of a novelist at the height of her powers."--Christopher Hudson

"[Iris Murdoch] remains a consummate and sensual scene-painter."--Michael Ratcliffe in "The Times" (London)

Book Description

'Iris Murdoch is incapable of writing without fascinating and beautiful colour' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must be one of her best! 19 Dec 2011
By adam
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think Iris Murdoch wrote approximately 27 novels or so, but this has to be one of her best in my humble opinion. As usual all the typical mix of complex and complicated side characters, ambiguous and contradictory antagonists and protagonists, whilst all the while the plot and sub-plots merging, disintergrating, convoluting and always drawing the reader further in untill a gorgeous finale. Thunderous and passionate, fairly much dark and twisted yet subtle throughout, this is an incredibly addictive and consuming read engulfing you into the life of Montague Small the obsessive and failed detective writer, but more so that of Blaise Gavender the psychotherapist whose life and loves are so unendingly tormented that you don't know whether to cry out in despair or get angry. It came in hardback and cost very little. An excellent and very enjoyable read, i recommend every Iris Murdoch fan to buy this novel!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed with state of this 'New' book 29 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love Iris Murdoch, wont buy books online again, the cover was badly marked and scratched.This is a serious literary work and I expected better. Surely youre packers could see the damage? Did expect returns labels with product, so I will leave it, cant stand the hassle and return to my trusty bookshop.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murdoch on love and betrayal 11 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on
The Sacred and Profane Love Machine describes the spectacular unravelling of two families at the hands of Blaise Gavender. The first family is his own "legitimate" one, comprising his wife Harriet and son David. The other is his lover Emily and their son Luca. A weary and cynical novelist,the newly widowed Montague Small, is the unwilling observer and intermediary of this melange. We see a recurring exploration of the meaning of love when the faults of the lovers suddenly become overwhelming and the only options are forgiveness or alienation.As in her other books, Murdoch's characters are complex, their motivations tangled by alternating emotional currents of elation, despair, and futility.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly comic delight! 28 Nov 2010
By Geek-Lover - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd first read Murdoch's "The Sea, The Sea" and was already a fan of her work. My second selection was the provocatively titled "The Sacred and Profane Love Machine". This is a darkly comic, somewhat fanciful story about what occurs when a charlatan of an analyst is 'outed' for his double-life with two families. One family, his traditional, stable and 'respectable' professional family- the other an erotically charged but since-gone-stale relationship with a woman from a less fortunate background and pathetically poor and terminally envious of his 'other' life. The cuckolded wife is perhaps the most comic character in the novel as she futilely tries to control the situation. In Murdoch's standard style- she has rendered a rich cast of well-developed characters who are each imperfect in their own unique ways. This book is a wild ride of a read that does not disappoint- I was left panting with exhileration as the novel came to a close and I was released from this captivating tale!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wrote my thesis on this author and she keeps popping up ever since 27 April 2014
By Ashley - Published on
She's definitely not for everyone. This text in particular reminds me of a convoluted daytime soap, but there's a reason those things have been going on with the same families, characters and such for decades--that's life. The point of this intricate and often frustrating story is that everyone needs to fantasize and, often, when those moments finally arrive in life where your fantasies have the opportunity to come into fruition you choke! It's about realizing those things about yourself that make you weak, that are unreasonable, and learning Just what it takes to change your own behaviors and thoughts in the real world. Habits and people make us comfortable and even when the person we count on the most breaks that routine (and our hearts?) it takes an unbelievable amount of work to make yourself acknowledge that change and adapt. Also, in a decade where it was "chic" to go to an analyst, Murdoch pokes at the culture and profession in all of her books when she (perhaps overtly) reveals that no one can make you believe certain things about yourself, it's a humiliating and often grueling journey that will find an end only in one event and only when you're ready--no one else no other time. Great book, great writing, a lot to think about
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but dark story 10 July 2013
By JoAnn Yellow Mustang - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Iris Murdoch exposes many hypocrises, ironies, rationalizations, and absurdities that go along with just normal life, apparently, for some. Much of the book is riotously funny. The writing is enjoyable and accessible. I just couldn't think the philandering husband could get any less clued in or more self-centered, but he continued to to the end.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By David Schauweker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like her novels "The Black Prince" and "A Word Child", I found this one utterly gripping and unique.

Psychoanalyst Blaise Gavender is trying to hold together his double life as a respectable husband to his wife Harriet and as lover to his mistress Emily, but his secret relationship is turning sour under the compromises it forces upon Emily.

Ultimately all the numerous characters are suffering or will suffer under the strain of trying to obtain security through a loving relationship as these relationships fail to match each character's heart's desire or inevitably change.

Murdoch shows us the beauty and ecstacy of love along with the agony, desperation, and deceit that often accompany it, leaving me alternately admiring, envious, horrified, and pitying.
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