A overview of the career of one of the most respected contemporary British novelists
A dominant figure of postwar British literature, Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) wrote more than twenty-five novels, a collection of poems, and a half-dozen philosophical studies. While critical opinion of her work varies, Murdoch remains one of the most respected contemporary British novelists. In Understanding Iris Murdoch, Cheryl Bove divides Murdoch's work into two broad categories—the ironic tragedy and the bittersweet comedy—to examine the reasons why her work continues to attract such a large following.
Bove describes Murdoch as preoccupied with love, art, and the possibility and difficulty of doing good and avoiding evil. A writer of consistently readable novels who fashions gripping narratives and vivid characters, Murdoch presents readers with moral problems upon which she allows her audience to pass judgment. Bove summarizes Murdoch's work not as an effort to advance a cause, expand a philosophy, or portray a society, but to present human relationships and solve fictional problems of plot and theme.
Cheryl K. Bove taught humanities in the Honors College at Ball State University. A specialist on the work of Iris Murdoch, she is author of A Character Index and Guide to the Fiction of Iris Murdoch and coauthor of Iris Murdoch: A Descriptive Primary and Annotated Secondary Bibliography and Sacred Space, Beloved City: Iris Murdoch's London. Bove also serves on the acquisitions board of the Iris Murdoch Centre at Kingston University.
"Considering all of Murdoch's novels, plays, and essays, Bove dutifully combines summary with analysis of Murdoch's moral philosophy and aesthetics. . . . She works within a sound scholarly perspective."—Choice