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The Book And The Brotherhood

The Book And The Brotherhood [Kindle Edition]

Iris Murdoch
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Iris Murdoch is incapable of writing without fascinating and beautiful colour" (The Times)

"Iris Murdoch was one of the best and most influential writers of the twentieth century" (Peter Conradi Guardian)

"A thoroughly gripping, stimulating and challenging fiction" (The Times)

"When the intellectual map of our time comes to be sketched out, Irish Murdoch will occupy a position analogous to Tolstoy and Dostoevsky... Her vision of the world is heart-rending, but ultimately celebratory" (A. N. Wilson Guardian)

Book Description

'A thoroughly gripping, stimulating, and challenging fiction' The Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 857 KB
  • Print Length: 610 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (1 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003U2T646
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #117,848 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I am never certain of the place of Iris Murdoch's writing in the pantheon of world literature but she must be considered by any standards a major novelist. If you are familiar with her works then it is unlikely that you will read this review but instead will just go out and buy the book and enjoy it. It is one of her best. If you are not familiar with them then I am able to give an overview of the recurrent themes which make them so absorbing, while not wishing to give the impression that they are in any way formulaic.
Most of her novels revolve around a small clique of upper-middle class academics who in the past have attended Oxbridge together. They are interconnected by a complicated but self-contained network of love affairs, both open and clandestine. Many are homosexual, and there is normally at least one Jewish character. There is also very often a pivotal individual, either an enchanter or charismatic, or a mysterious or demonic über-intellectual held in awe by the others, and around whom many of the tragic events take place (in the Book and the Brotherhood it is David Crimond). Having assembled a cast of characters she then sets about putting them through the most intense emotional torture, to such an extent that they nearly all hover on the edge of, or tumble into, hysteria or insanity, with dire consequences. But Iris Murdoch gives such a penetrating, almost Dostoyevskian, insight into their psychology that you soon forget that they are generally a set of quite absurd and theatrically self-obsessed individuals, and become concerned about their fates.
Although her works are intellectual they are terrific, riveting stories.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about the reality of life and love 6 May 2001
By A Customer
The author is very clever at creating believable characters and portrays complex emotions and thoughts extremely well. It's believable; it doesn't romanticise relationships; it does not shy away from the darker emotions; there is no 'happy ever after' (a refreshing change from many novels). Friendship and love are analysed in a raw style and stripped bare; in this way, to me, this book exposes many other less conscientious novels as putting a rosy glow on relationships. In this novel, Iris Murdoch does not romanticise relationships and the human experience for the benefit of her readers; she represents the stark reality of life with astounding clarity. It is an absorbing read; the characters become people you know; they come into existence in their own right. I wish the book had no end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth revisited? 18 Mar 2014
I first read this book several years ago and, although Iris has been my favourite novelist for a good portion of my life (I am now 67), I did not rate it too highly. I do now. Most informed reviewers of her books that I've read mention her reworking of mythic themes without particularising. So in this second reading I've tried to concentrate on the book's structure and to pick up any allusions that I can find.
The wife of of the member of the 'Brotherhood', Duncan, leaves him for a charismatic Scottish 'thinker' called Crimond.
This leaving involves a fight in which Duncan is beaten and who suffers as a result a 'psychic death'. Attached to the group are three unattached women bracketed together by their names which are also the names of flowers, i.e with the natural/elemental world and attempt to exert controlling influences on the male characters. Duncan's child is aborted by it's bearer, a disturbed girl who subsequently sees this as murder induced by the influences of one of the 'witches'.
Indeed extreme psychological disturbance - or madness - is exhibited by several characters, including Crimond's mistress, Jean.
All this suggests to me a reworking of Macbeth. Comments?
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3.0 out of 5 stars The agony and helplessness of created things 28 Nov 2013
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is surprising that as experienced an author as Iris Murdoch should swamp the reader with no fewer than nineteen characters in the first ten pages - not all of whom will be significant players in the story. The novel opens at a Commem Ball at Oxford, and most of those sixteen are alumni and alumnae. One of them is David Crimond, who, we will learn later, is the author of the book in the title; and we gather that, for some as yet unexplained reason, most of the others are shocked that he is there and try to avoid meeting him. There are all sorts of permutations and combinations that evening, people losing and looking for each other - it's all rather a frenetic farce, and a contrast to the sombre and tender pages, about a death and a loss, which follow. From then onwards many characters, their stories and their thoughts come into focus - their thoughts are often tortuous, and feelings of guilt or self-accusation will figure frequently. Most members of the group have seen each other frequently ever since their time at Oxford, and are in and out of each others' homes all the time. The narrative of their relationships and their eventual permutations continue, but at a more leisurely pace. The central plot, which is about Crimond and is the most interesting part of the book, disappears for very long stretches. And there will be what I think of as longueurs: minute descriptions of everyday actions, almost always of the clothes people are wearing and of the furnishing of rooms, of the weather and of nature. And she loves lists. The dialogues are usually crisp (though on a couple of occasions mawkish and unbelievable), but I find her descriptions tiresomely wordy and self-indulgent. Read more ›
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