epub books A Fairly Honourable Defeat BY Iris Murdoch – alphabetpreschool.co.uk
Hairs deployed by Murdoch here in her study of love morality and fidelity If the tune sounds familiar it s because I ve spent half an hour on Google trying to identify a song that I ept humming back in the 80 s Turns up it s by a band named Chilly Joey wants Penny but Penny loves Bo Bo isn t ready cos he s havin fun Playin with many is better than none Johnny loves Jenny but Jenny lo This is a tangled web set in the late 60s concerning Rupert and Hilda their 20 year old drop out son Peter Rupert s younger brother Simon and his boyfriend Axel Hilda s unstable younger sister Morgan and her estranged husband Tallis and her former lover and college friend of Rupert and Axel JuliusThings are intertwined *From The Start But Later There Are *the start but later there are echoes of Shakespeare s Midsummer Night s Dream when the stage is set for a non magical enchantment leading to illusions of love and betrayal with the metaphorical puppeteer appearing to soothe whilst actually sowing doubts and creating scenarios Although the story is entirely naturalistic rather than magical realism etc there are occasions when some of the characters think they sense supernatural demons or ghosts yet none of them realise the real power that is manipulating the I first read this book in graduate school in the 70 s and I ve re read it several times over the years It may or may not be one of the best books I ve ever read but in some ways it is probably the most powerfulFor many years it was the only Murdoch book I d read but over the past five years I ve picked up others and that altered my reading experience this time I still felt the chilly dread of what the characters were going to encounter next but I was also hit over the head with Murdoch s philosophy in the same way that I did reading Ayn Rand s Atlas Shrugged okay okay I get itThis awareness didn t diminish my interest in this novel or Murdoch s writing but it made me think about how present her voice and her personality are in the book It chills me to consider her cynicism and contempt for people but also intrigues me that in addition to the frightening amoral personalities she creates there is also a seeker and a hopeful belief that love conuers all I haven t decided whether it would have been fascinating or frightening to sit down to dinner with Iris Murdoch at her peak but I am confident it woul have been memorable I have enjoyed this book a lot I have found it humorous Never was I bored From the start to the finish my head was busy The story focuses on character portrayal rather than plot Events circle around nine characters Only nine there are no subsidiary figures We start with a husband and wife Rupert and Hilda Foster It is their Twentieth Wedding Anniversary They Have A Solid wedding anniversary They have a solid They have a son named Peter He is at Cambridge Into the picture is drawn Hilda s younger sister Morgan Browne Morgan s jilted husband Tallis Browne and Tallis elderly father named Leonard He has an ache is it arthritis Two family members left to be mentioned are Rupert s younger homosexual brother Simon Foster and his partner Axel Nilsson One character remains He is not part of the family Let s call him the disturbing outside element He is a biochemist named Julius King These are the nine characters All nine live in the world of academia university lecturers and a student writers and authors a scientist individuals concerned with the arts and design philosophy literature semantics philology Conversations revolve around philosophizing and theorizing at times leaning towards the esoteric All are well to do One s attention is drawn to understanding each of the nine their personalities and the complicated relationships existing between them No relationship is simple or straightforward Each character has opinions about the others It is up to the reader to figure out what is true and what is not The focus is on how each behaves and why they behave as they do What are the underlying motivations One observes a split between elegant philosophical reasoning and realityOne can uestion if plot events are realistic Could would what happens here occur In the given situations that arise what the characters say and do seem reasonable natural feasible The conseuences turn out disastrous How did this happen you ask And yet as a whole that which unrolls seems unbelievable This you find yourself thinking about too One element of the story I did not like view spoilerthat Julius had during the war been incarcerated at the concentration camp Bergen Belsen This is thrown in at the very end Is it meant as an explanation for his bizarre behavior If this is what is implied it is not adeuately developed hide spoiler. Man tendency to embrace drama and intrigue and to prefer the distraction of confrontations to the difficult effort of communicating openly and honestly. .
It s been a very long time since I read any Iris Murdoch When you ve been much attached to an time since I read any Iris Murdoch When you ve been much attached to an in the past there is always the fear that a later reread will reveal you ve grown out of that author and that then you will lose your happy memories Not so here I think too that I am better able to articulate what I like about her I ve been carrying around memories not of my own impressions but rather my impressions of secondary criticism my memories of my impressions of others impressions of Iris Murdoch Specifically I remember if hazily a Martha Nussbaum lecture about her that described her books as little clockwork machines the characters wound up and placed into a moral dilemma to provide a sort of real world philosophical experiment and investigation into philosophical particulars rather than *general principles in a way think this is *principles In a way think this is but it places too little emphasis on that particularity oh how different it is to talk about or think about specific people and specific situations than to provide general principles abstract arguments One of the things I had forgotten was just how calmly and precisely Murdoch describes the people in her books not only their physical attributes but what Down Lambeth Way kinds of things go on in their heads There is a detachment in this description but I think that it is actually a mistake to therefore assume that disinterested euals uninterested The author is not Julius She is curious but she is not cruel I liked too what this book has to say about the value of truth in relationships In this respect Simon and Axel s story is the one that I found the most moving and the most familiar Simon s interior workings seem very real to me a shame about feeling ashamed or insecure to begin with a humiliation about having a problem that stops a person from doing exactly that thing that would fix the problem a spiral down into lies not to hurt the other person but out of a lack of genuine respect for one s self and inability to believe that he could truly genuinely be loved And Axel is not as secure as he seems either his rules about absolute truth are correct and effective but they are not coming from a place of philosophical conviction but rather from a deep seated fear that he has himself I was uite moved This paragraph at the beginning of the novel after the first few lines of dialogue captures why I love Iris Murdoch so much Hilda and Rupert Foster celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary with a bottle of rather dry champagne were sitting in the evening sun in the garden of their house in Priory Grove London SW10 Hilda a plumper angel now reclined limply exhibiting shiny burnishednees below a short shrift dress of orangey yellow Her feet were bare Her undulating dark hair showed some needle thin lines of grey Her burly boyish faced husband whom she had at last persuaded to stop wearing shorts sat open shirted cooking in the sun He was red hoping later to be brown There is no one like her in all of literature OK it s not really the great novel it sets out to be but it s very entertaining Julius King is one of my all time favorite bad guys Go Julius Destroy that relationship Drive that man to madness and despair Cut up that dress Do the washing up Sort of a high brow Hannibal Lecter lite as it were Though I was rather shocked to discover the explanation for his lack of affectHere s the bit I liked best The woman is very taken with him and hangs on his every word He tells her that Turner is rubbish no talent at all She uncritically believes him Then a bit later she visits the National Gallery and is delighted when she now experiences the Turners as amateurish and poorRuining someone s ability to appreciate Turner just for fun Now that s a creative portrayal of evil 35 starsIris Murdoch s thirteenth novel is a surprisingly uick read despite the fact it s the longest out of the initial thirteen This is probably in part to the fact that a large part of it is dialogue and partly because there is a morbid desire to eep reading as events play out I say morbid as the plot is a spiral into which there seems nothing good can happen and leaves you eagerly waiting to see if secrets are revealed and everyone ends up where they deserveThe novel has the usual slightly claustrophobic small cast and is set in London moving primarily between the rich and comfortable homes of Rupert and Hilda a blissfully happy couple at the beginning of the novel the home of a gay couple Simon Rupert s younger brother and Axel and the decrepit and filthy dwelling of Tallis the erstwhile husband of Hilda s sister Morgan who has just returned from America after a disastrous affair with Rupert s acuaintance. In a dark comedy of errors Iris Murdoch portrays the mischief wrought by Julius a cynical intellectual who decides to demonstrate through a Machiavelli. .
Julius Tallis lives with Peter the son of Rupert and Hilda his father Leonard and various immigrant families from PakistanJulius is the instigator and indeed the puppet master of a scheme that plays with the emotions of these individuals and causes upset as the novel progresses He is a Machiavellian figure whose behavior is partially explained though never excused a biochemist who treats those around him as just *another experiment or even as an art piece he is arranging He seems to see himself as some harbinger of *experiment or even as an art piece he is arranging He seems to see himself as some harbinger of stripping away vanity and artifice and taking great glee in being evil which he sees as far exciting and attractive than goodness Tallis is his agentless saintly counterpart a bystander who only once breaks out of his shell who is primarily apathetic has visions of his dead twin sister and is attempting to right all the world s problems alone By the end of the novel he is still as enigmatic in some ways as Julius despite their revelations to one another Morgan Tallis s wife is a vain and often irritating figure who is emotionally unstable for good reason to a certain extent while Peter is just a spoilt and annoying child who has a mummy complex Leonard Tallis s father is a far readable character who has some great lines in fact his introduction in the novel is one of the best speeches of the book and he is an unashamed misanthrope who Tallis nevertheless dotes uponSimon and Axel particularly Simon have to be my favorite characters of the novel Iris Murdoch often includes gay characters in her novels but this one is the first time where they are just another couple and one that is just as much if not successful than the others in the book In contrast to these two Hilda is rather vague and Rupert becomes less attractive as he gets further entangled in Julius s scheme I got rather tired of listening to the tortured conversations between him and Morgan I also tend to glaze over whenever Iris Murdoch starts to get overly philosophical and there is rather a lot about different types of love which gets confusing and still wasn t clear to this reader by the end of the bookThere are however the usual masterful character studies in the book as that is primarily what Iris Murdoch s novels are You don t read her for plot but for people and although there is this scheme in place to propel the book along it is still secondary to the reactions behaviors and hang ups of those involved in it Her characters often frustrate and even now I m not sure whether the reason this wasn t a favorite is because the frustration just got too much whether Morgan for example just irritated me beyond measure or was it simply that the suspense of what would eventually come of all this was too much for my sensitive nerves I now this happens to be a favorite with several other Iris Murdoch fans so as with all her novels this is probably one that will reward a rereading but for now I ll have to let it sit for a whileFavorite Lines Swimming refreshes the soul but does not affect the "waistline I m afraid Anyway drink is good for my insomnia Thank heavens I m so happy Insomnia must be "I m afraid Anyway drink is good for my insomnia Thank heavens I m so happy Insomnia must be if one isn t Good is dull What novelist ever succeeded in making a good man interesting It is characteristic of this planet that the path of virtue is so unutterably depressing that it can be guaranteed to break the spirit and uench the vision of anybody who consistently attempts to tread it Interesting When people don t understand something they feel they have to say that It s so conveniently non committal So my review disappeared That s been happening to a lot of friends lately but this is the first time I m certain it s happened to one of mineDespite being populated only by a host of white London luvvies this is my favourite Murdoch by far It s clever beautifully written and Simon is to die forAll I ll repeat from my review is DO NOT read the introduction by Philip Henscher before reading this novel It s a complete spoiler zone Read it afterwards though it s almost as good as the book I read Iris Murdoch and then I wonder why I ever read anything else Brilliant characters fabulous set pieces It should be an opera The dialogue the philosophy and the plot can be a bit clunky but everything is forgiven because it is so dramatic and the characters so charmingI ve decided that with Iris Murdoch I now Relationships It s ComplicatedTallis loves Morgan but Morgan loves Julius Julius woos Simon but Simon loves Axel Hilda loves Rupert but Rupert covets Morgan Julius wants Hilda but Hilda loves Peter Peter loves Morgan but Morgan loves Rupert Leonard loves nobody because he s an old grinch and the exception to the rule of musical An experiment how easily loving couples caring friends and devoted siblings can betray their loyalties As puppet master Julius artfully plays on the hu.