The Ausar Auset Nutrition Handbook gRelationships 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 oldrinch and the exception to the rule of musical chairs 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 kept 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 loves Joe I used to love Iris Murdoch but after the rather ponderous and deprimant Dream of Bruno I took a break that turned to last two decades Now I m back and I m Girls Und Panzer, vol. 1 glad to report that her books can be not only deep philosophical and provocative but also a lot of fun Rambunctious is not a ualifier that I had occasion to use before but it describes accurately the madcap permutations in the affections of the close knitroup of friends and relatives at the center of this story To borrow a title from my next review the book could aptly be named The Disorderly Lovers a commedy of manners that could only be set in England where appearances stiff upper lips and repressed sexuality trump sincerity and trust You are preserving your dignity by refusing to show your feelings But there are moments when love ought to be undignified extravagant even violent says Rupert at one time to Tallis about the latter s failure to convince runaway wife Morgan to come back to himI m etting ahead of the story I should et back and properly introduce the actors before commenting on their foibles Briefly the novel starts with Rupert a high ranking La Vilaine Lulu government official and his stay at home wife Hilda celebrating the 20th anniversary of their steady and slightly boring marriage It s one of those elusive hot summer days in London and the coupleossips extensively about their uests as they sample liberaly from the drinks cabinet We learn that Hilda s sister Morgan is expected to return soon from the United States where she had a torrid affair with Julius a former school colleague of Rupert Their son Peter is living out with Morgan s abandoned husband Tallis while Rupert s brother Simon is expected to join them in the company of his significant other Axel another mate from Rupert and Julius school days At this point I recommend a spreadsheet and some colored markers in order to keep track of who is involved with whomTo make it easier I would say the novel is a cross between two literary classics A Midsummer Night Dream by Shakespeare and Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos I am not ualified to comment in detail on the connections as I am only familiar with the movie versions of these stories but I see Rupert and Hilda as Oberon and Titania around whom the others ravitate Morgan as the Maruise de Merteuil and Julius as the disruptive malicious Puck Vicomte de Valmont This artificiality theatricality is in fact the one major complaint I could level at the novel In "order to touch on as many aspects of subject as possible Murdoch "to touch on as many aspects of subject as possible Murdoch a sandbox approach with the characters acting sometimes as puppets whose strings are in their creator s hands and who move in predetermined patterns that puts them in exactly the situation that illustrates best the point Murdoch wants to make With the same oal in mind all the characters are upper class highly educated and introspective able to analyze their emotions and extremely articulate about expressing them What saves the characters as people is the level of detail of Murdoch analysis and the real pain they o through as they try to reach out and touch one another "I HAD SOME ISSUES WITH PETER "had some issues with Peter Simon who are a little too stereotypical in their roles one as a teenager refusing his parents love and the other as the effete promiscuous flashy dresser Granvilles New Strategy of Daily Stock Market Timing for Maximum Profit gay interior decorator Peter Peter do drink something not just water It would do youood What sort of Artificial Evolution (Big Sigma, good You people all drink in order to escape from reality I happen to like reality I m staying with it not taking off for the land of make believe Peter again I m afraid nowadays it s you young people who are cynical and we middle aged ones who are idealistic We aren t cynical And you aren t idealistic You re just a lot of self centred habit ridden hedonists Simon Simon wasreedy for the surface texture of his life whose substance he luxuriously munched second after second as if it were a fruit with a thin soft furry exterior and a firm sweet fleshy inside Simon loved times of day eating drinking looking touching All his experiences were ceremonies He liked the slow savouring of moments of pleasure and he engineered his life to contain as many of these as possibleIt sometimes seemed to him that all his enjoyments were similar in kind though not in degree whether he was stroking a cat or a Chippendale chair or drinking a dry martini or looking at a picture by Titian or On Moral Courage getting into bed with Alex Murdoch most reliable characters for presenting her position on the major themes of the novel are Rupert and Julius Rupert is actually writing a philosophical book about the power of love and positive thinking Julius thinks Rupert is conceited and misguided and sets up to demonstrate that his own cynical approach to love is closer to reality Rupert Love is the last and secret name of all the virtues Julius All human beings fly from consciousnes OK it s not really thereat novel it sets out to be but it s very entertaining Julius King is one of my all time favorite bad uys 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 exp. In a dark comedy of errors Iris Murdoch portrays the mischief wrought by Julius a cynical intellectual who decides to demonstrate through a Machiavelli. Gure 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 iven 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 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 know I m Mastering the Art of Self-Sufficiency in New Zealand going to love it when a it is set in London and or b I have to write my own list of characters inside the front cover to keep a track of everyone Your letters weren t terribly informative actually They moved from the curt to the enigmatic to the frantic And take eating if you re lucky enough to do any Stuffing pieces of dead animals into a hole in your face Then munch munch munch If there s anybody watching they must be dying of laughter as if his mouth were a sea anemone trying to turn itself inside out Well why don t you treat yourself to a shave if it comes to that You look like somethingrowing on the side of a tree trunk The sort of thing you can t resist scraping off with your foot and then wish you hadn t It s so orgeously untidy like London Exactly I love the village life of Rome Those innumerable little suares And the fountains And the white statues among the trees And the ancient pillars built into Renaissance walks And the neon lights at night on tawny coloured houses And the naked boys bathing in the Tiber Ah the naked boys bathing in the Tiber This could o on forever thought Simon I couldn t live like that Like what Without a false picture of yourself No In cynicism Why use that nasty word Let us say a sensible acceptance of the second rate I won t accept the second rate If you stay in the same house as yourself you may have to How could her dreamy converse with Rupert have occasioned have caused this terrible violence It was like the humming of a song causing an aeroplane crashHe remembered Morgan s jokey self consciousness about her wedding ring and the peculiar shy ache of his pleasure when she displayed it 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 John, Paul Me-Before the Beatles garden of their house in Priory Grove London SW10 Hilda a plumper angel now reclined limply exhibiting shiny burnished knees below a short shrift dress of orangey yellow Her feet were bare Her undulating dark hair showed some needle thin lines ofrey 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 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 strong 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 hosts yet none of them realise the real power that is manipulating their livesIt opens inauspiciously with a long conversation between Rupert and Hilda which explains the back story but which they would not be discussing in that way between themselves However after that it becomes a trademark Murdoch psychological novel In some ways her protagonists are a little like the British euivalent of Woody Allen s shrink addicted New Yorkers as they endlessly analyse their relationships interconnectedness motives etcThe narrative slips seamlessly between pages of pure dialogue "To Descriptive Passages In "descriptive passages In of the dialogue sections it is not always clear who is saying what but that is actually very effective especially when there is a large athering with multiple conversations and the reader is effectively eaves hopping between themThe book is slightly dated in places especially early on when Murdoch seems embarrassed about the terminology regarding Simon and Axel liaison association his friend and there are a couple of awkward racial comments but mostly it reads very well and would also be Ion Adventure in the Heartland, Volume 1 good for a readingroup though probably too unfashionable to be picked unless it rose to prominence on the back of a film You could spend ages merely on Both you and X are wounded people X is the wounded because X is the uilty and for that reason is probably the proud and ood is is probably the proud And Good is What novelist ever succeeded in making a Hedge Fund - tome 4 - L'hritire aux vingt milliards good man interesting Fortunately this novel devotes plenty of pages to those who are notoodI d love to read another book about Julius so this one must have been excellent 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 keep reading as events play out I say morbid as the plot is. Man tendency to embrace drama and intrigue and to prefer the distraction of confrontations to the difficult effort of communicating openly and honestly. ,
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Eriences the Turners as amateurish and poorRuining someone s ability to appreciate Turner just for fun Now that s a creative portrayal of evil I first read this book in raduate 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 oing 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 Places of Performance 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 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 asood as the book It s been a very long time since I read any Iris Murdoch When you ve been much attached to an author in the past there is always the fear that a later reread will reveal you ve The Alpha Wolf Bent Me Over 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 thaneneral principles In a way think this is true 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 მოგონებები შეფიცულთა რაზმზე 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 kinds of thingso 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 Ithe one that I 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 a shame about feeling ashamed or insecure to begin with a humiliation about having a problem that stops a person Doing Exactly That "doing exactly that that would fix the problem a spiral down into lies not to hurt the other person but out of a lack of The Heart of Business genuine respect for one s self and inability to believe that he could trulyenuinely 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 to see them end happily and I think the lesson about love relationships and intimacy is uite specifically true I felt like I recognized other characters as well though I had less empathy for them Though the villain in so far as there is one is meant to be Julius I found him far less frightening and horrible than Morgan Perhaps she is upset perhaps she is even ill but the damage that she inflicted seemed somehow so much worse a narcissistic flailing that destroyed everything in its path and had a frightening randomness that Julius s cruelty lacked I was sorry but not surprised to see her forgiven I m so pleased Iris that you ve held up for all these years The temptation to binge read everything now is huge Perhaps one over the summer is enough for now 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 marriage 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 fi. An experiment how easily loving couples caring friends and devoted siblings can betray their loyalties As puppet master Julius artfully plays on the hu.