The Black Prince Paperback – 27 Feb 1975
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"Murdoch is at the height of her powers in this novel, combining a complex plot with a heartrending analysis of the meaning of love" (Good Book Guide)
"A source of wonder and delight...No summary can do justice to the rich intricacy of character and incident with which Miss Murdoch crowds every page" (Spectator)
"This is great Murdoch. It rings as clear as The Bell...her humour is all the more achingly funny because she keeps it on the edge of our vision" (Daily Mail)
"Iris Murdoch's marvellous, heroic novel...A gloriously rich tale" (The Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'It is witty and wise and provocative...brilliantly good' Evening Standard --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
This is my second Murdoch novel, the first being The Sea, the Sea, and there are parallels. The aging male protagonist, slightly detestable, but sympathetic; a desire to escape; a claustrophobic set of friends and family; tragedy; farce; love. There are also other "Murdochian" depths here: philosophy & Shakespeare (Hamlet in this case) being the two most obvious. This means the text is fleshed out with questions; particularly, the nature of art, beauty and love all come in for rumination, usually through the inner workings of our narrator's mind.
Murdoch's intelligence blazes through The Black Prince; it is a courageous and vivid novel, simultaneously vague, as though somehow estranged from real life. We know this takes place on London streets with the Post Office Tower in attendance, we know there are taxis and shops and seashores, we even know there are pokers, sleeping pills and glasses of whiskey, but these concrete "moments" are but anchors for a novel concerned with the incorporeal that would otherwise float off into the ether.
Elliptical in structure, it will not spoil the reader's enjoyment to say that the end is contained within the beginning. And yet not! The final twist is malicious, and complicated by a series of postscripts from various characters offering "their" view of the events; the consequences of which those inclined could ponder over indefinitely. This is representative of the novel as a whole, which is so stuffed with symbolism, that I imagine the author sat on high laughing whilst we lesser mortals wrestle and go mad trying to decipher "the truth" of it all.
The novel left me cold (not in the negative sense that it didn't affect me, but that its effect was chilling), not least because it suggests an "unknowable" core at the centre of everything and everyone that might as well be a black hole. I'm used to contemporary texts self-consciously highlighting their own "fictionality", but when a text removes the skin from everything, what is left underneath? The real "truth" perhaps?
Murdoch writes beautifully, and our narrator's flights into love and life are ethereal at times: it is a genuine pleasure to marvel at the ideas and the language used to express them.
Candia McWilliam's stylish "introduction" in the Vintage Classics edition is as elusive as the text itself.
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