Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A huge cast of characters, intensely described personal dramas and a pinch of fun... it's typically Murdochian, though on a larger scale than in most of her other books. Although some of the characters are vile, there are enough of them that there's sure to be at least one that you'll like.

I myself could have done without the narrator character who only steps...
Published on 15 July 2009 by a nice guy

versus
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You really will believe that Ennistone exists.
What an enjoyable book. From a suspected murder attempt at the start of the book, you are immersed into the Ennistone spa where you meet all the Ennistone townsfolk, each as fascinating as the other. Murdoch cleverly interweaves their lives and creates a page-turning novel that, as corny as it sounds, you really don't want to put down. I'm sure though that there were...
Published on 27 Sept. 2000 by liz@lizjohns.com


Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 15 July 2009
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
A huge cast of characters, intensely described personal dramas and a pinch of fun... it's typically Murdochian, though on a larger scale than in most of her other books. Although some of the characters are vile, there are enough of them that there's sure to be at least one that you'll like.

I myself could have done without the narrator character who only steps into the story occasionally.

Whilst a lot of weight could have been scythed off this carcass if you are willing to embrace Murdoch's world then there's a lot to enjoy in this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly rich novel - brimming with passion, spirituality, violence and wisdom, 19 Jan. 2011
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Absolutely wonderful. A stunning novel. `The Philosopher's Pupil' is a Dante-esque tale of love - in which numerous types of love are evoked, from dishonest to honourable, self-defeating to masochistic, platonic to deviant, and never ever simply just one type at any one time - that is set in Ennistone, a town renowned for its natural hot water springs/baths, and also filled to the brim with the heat of gossip, anger, passions, and small-minded mischief makers. But this review is not about the plot, as that's for you to enjoy in your own reading. This is an homage to the truly marvellous characters that Murdoch's genius has given life to in this novel.

Murdoch has a mature nineteenth century novelist's depth to her characters; she is easily a match for Tolstoy, Trollope and Eliot, to name some of the giants of fiction. Her fictional beings are beautifully detailed, fully realised in scope and complexity, and each draws you in with their own personal world view, and reasoning and often troubled emotional life, and you are captivated in your watching and listening to them live and breathe and assert themselves in their muddled worlds.

Her dialogue alone is worth the price of the novel - and the prologue, relating the car `accident' (for it really isn't one, but an incident resulting from a violent action), is a tour de force, introducing George, the novel's devil in (barely) human form. But he is scarily human. He is, for me, the most fully realised and horribly convincing, nightmarish psychopath and sociopath I have read in fiction. Far scarier than Hannibal Lecter as a fictional creation, and more believable than a real-life monster like Ed Gein. With his extreme ranting and raving, his sheer loathing and violent, misogynistic fantasies (as well as behaviour), he is apocalyptic in tone and revenge. Yet he could just as well be one of your neighbours who has become utterly mad, yet within a framework of apparent sanity at the same time.

He is the strongest case and example - though there are several others in this novel - of Murdoch's tremendous ability to create flesh-and-blood human beings that convey her passionate intellectual and creative interests, while never failing to be merely conduits or foils for her fictional plotting. There's never any sense of Deus ex Machina at work, here - her creatures spring from the page, and are all tremendously individual in language, thought and action.

As if psychotic George wasn't enough for one novel, there's also the philosopher of the novel's title as well, John Robert Rozanov (George was once one of John's pupils): he is manipulative, amoral, uncaring, soul-less, intellectual and emotionally moribund and, in many ways, is far more of a devil than George himself (though never committing physical acts of violence, or verbal, as George does with such relish and ease).

Then there are the brothers to George: Brian, who is just the most miserable, endlessly complaining and always irritable sod - and relentlessly funnily drawn through his dialogue and through whom a lot of the novel's humour is brilliantly played out; and Tom, the youngest of the brothers, at university and, for most of his life, to his teenage years, he is naive, delightfully happy and at one with his world and his peers, until corrupted by a Faustian task that John compels him to take up.

Besides the above-named individuals, you also have the joy of being entertained by Brian's put-upon wife, poor, defeated Gabriel, always tearful, always troubled, and ready to blubber at the drop of the proverbial hat. There's Stella, the intellectual, yet remote, and incredibly martryrish wife of the monster George (who, to give him credit, besides his murderous rage and violence and misogyny, does save Zed - probably one of fiction's most charming, delightful and convincing portraits of a clever little doggie, who is Zen-like and always understanding, even when he's clueless; both part of the natural world, and yet connected with his human peers) and Adam, another marvel in this novel, offspring of Gabriel and Brian, and who is Francis of Assisi-like, as well as Buddhist, in his immediate and deep empathy with all living things.

Murdoch clearly knows her Varieties of Religious Experience, and if the Gabriel, Stella and Zed weren't enough, you have Father Bernard, an Anglican priest who's also an atheist, who believes ultimately that the only hope and saviour for the world is religion without god, and ends up preaching like some sort of ethereal combo ascetic-Russian hermit/-ancient Desert Father-type to remote Greek island kindly peasants (and otherwise local birds who'll hang about, and the sea and the rocks).

In short, I loved, loved, LOVED, this novel. It's fabulous, funny and dark, with substance, yet as light as a perfect soufflé. There's also plenty here for lovers of Plato and Dante, for example, and yet such references are never done in an ostentatious way, but flow seamlessly with the events and thinking of the novel and her characters. And all these riches are carried through with zest right to the end and beyond, with you being totally immersed in and absorbed by the mess and muddle of these human lives (a true Murdochian talent). You are left joyous and breathless and happy and utterly, utterly impressed by Murdoch for her philosophical wisdom, her mischievous wit, her darkness and light, her psychological insights, her innate appreciation of what it means to be human. She is a novelist extraordinaire.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Novel, 13 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Iris Murdoch continutes in this books to surround us with characters who become deeply part of our life as we read through, Her knowledge and thorough understanding of things philosophical never cease to astound and educate me
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ideal English sleepy village...., 22 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
An ordinary sleepy English town where nothing happens? Wrong, read the subtleties and intricacies of life in the idealist village especially after the coming of the Philosopher. Will someone follow the philosopher's guidance and who will it be? Read to find out more....
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spa town frolics and adventure, 11 Nov. 2007
By 
Room for a View - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
For me Murdoch's literary talent is embedded in her captivating ability to blend complex philosophical ideas with entertaining, humorous story telling to produce a hybrid philosophical tale that is accessible and intellectually rewarding. The Philosopher's Pupil conforms to many of the Murdochian themes and literary metaphors found elsewhere in her oeuvre: mysticism, academics, redemption, swimming, suicide, infidelity, youthful naivety, good and evil.

Murdoch's description of a fictional spa town (Ennistone), located somewhere in the south of England, is soaked in mystery (i.e. flying saucers, an ancient stone circle, Lud's Rill) and immersed in the waters of a vividly realised spa complex complete with steaming public pools and private rooms. Furthermore Murdoch's dazzling descriptive serenades, like the opening paragraph of the story, which evokes the effect of rain hitting a car windscreen (`... fractured in sudden stars upon the rain-swarmed glass'), are delightful and scattered throughout the novel. And there is no sense of complacency in Murdoch's plot and character development: tension, twists, unrequited love, and psychodrama. The main protagonists are the MacCaffrey's, particularly George (the philosopher's pupil) a violent, pugnacious man who sees `the world as a conspiracy against him, and himself as a victim of cosmic injustice.' George is obsessed with the arthritic Professor Rozanov (the philosopher), who returns to his birthplace in Ennistone with a mission to marry off his virginal seventeen-year-old granddaughter. Rozanov's plans, however, are fraught with misunderstandings and repressed desire. In a telling passage Murdoch ponders the elusive substance of philosophical thought (`some encrusted treasure which instantly crumbled') placing Rozanov's profound introspection at the centre of an incommunicable process to discover `some great symphonic finale.'

Other treats include the adventures of Zed (the pet dog), the occasional appearance of an anonymous Ennistone narrator (N), a priest who does not believe in God, gypsies (particularly the enigmatic Ruby), spa town gossip and William Eastcote. This edition comes with a superb introduction by Malcolm Bradbury.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "magical novel", perhaps influenced by Theodor Adorno, 8 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not many of Iris Murdoch's critics have commented on Adorno's influence on her fiction. She in fact wrote a preface to Adorno's book "The Culture Industry".

With regard to the book being reviewed, I would like to draw attention to two instances of what is apparently "magic". The first is when the McCaffrey family goes on a picnic to the seaside and a little boy loses his dog while swimming in the sea. Several members of the family dive in and search frantically for the dog, to no avail. In the meantime, George McCaffrey, who has got separated from the family and is not aware that the dog has gone missing, finds it "by accident" (or by magic?).

George is the "philosopher's pupil" and the key character in the novel. The second instance of "magic" is when he visits his former teacher John Robert Rozanov in the Roman Baths and finds him apparently unconscious, or possibly already dead. He pushes him into the water. This could be interpreted as a murderous action, but the narrator clearly does not condemn George for what he did. What complicates the situation is that Rozanov had written a note indicating that he had drunk a poison with suicidal intent. George is not aware of this note. The "magical" coincidence is that George happened to come across Rozanov at that particular point in time.

To make sense of this novel I found it interesting to read Adorno's book, "The Dialectic of Enlightenment". He wrote, "Both reason and religion outlaw the principle of magic". The book is a critical view of the Enlightenment which was set in motion by thinkers like Francis Bacon in the 17th century, establishing the supremacy of scientific reason at the expense of meaningfulness in human life. Murdoch's novel seems to suggest that in totally rejecting magic we may have thrown out the baby with the bath-water.

To quote Iris Murdoch in her book "Metaphysics as a guide to morals", "Art is a magic which excites the magical propensities of those who enjoy it..........Adorno is (was) a metaphysician and moralist, one might call him a puritan, he was also an artist, a pianist, a composer......"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good example of Murdoch's style, 2 Dec. 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
R. G. White "bobbygw" has written a full review and I agree with much of it. Iris Murdoch may have taken a leaf out of JP Sartre's book when she started writing her novels. He was a master at philosophizing through his novels, e.g. "The Age of Reason" and "Being and Nothingness".

Murdoch does the same and in her readable novels, she proves that even the deepest of philosophers can write accessible stories and fictional spa town, Ennistone, somewhere in the south of England, is the unusual setting for such a range of mysteries, surprises and confusions. AS well as the deep mysteries, the frightening episodes, there is also a lot of humour.

Murdoch wrote well and this is a good example of her best work.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You really will believe that Ennistone exists., 27 Sept. 2000
By 
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
What an enjoyable book. From a suspected murder attempt at the start of the book, you are immersed into the Ennistone spa where you meet all the Ennistone townsfolk, each as fascinating as the other. Murdoch cleverly interweaves their lives and creates a page-turning novel that, as corny as it sounds, you really don't want to put down. I'm sure though that there were deeper philosophical meanings in the story which I missed, but the story was so good, it didn't seem to matter. Maybe I'll pick up on them the next time I read it.....
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perseverance required!, 23 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This was my first foray into Murdoch land and although it took quite a lot of perseverance it was worthwhile. Some excellent characterisation and a storyline that eventually grabbed me. The swimming baths setting was strange but actually worked.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
good
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics)
The Philosopher's Pupil (Vintage Classics) by Iris Murdoch (Paperback - 6 Jan. 2000)
£9.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews