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Iris Murdoch

Updated on October 8, 2014

For Everyone Else

My first contact with Iris Murdoch was through the movie Iris. I fell in love with the author through Kate Winslet's depiction. Knowing this to not be an accurate representation of the author I decided to start reading her books, hopefully in order. This is not an easy task as many of her books I was not able to find. Iris wrote twenty-six novels in her life. A few of which were written when she was stricken with Alzheimer's.

Iris was born in Dublin but grew up in London. She studied at Oxford and Cambridge and later taught philosophy at Oxford where she met her future husband John Bayley. Typically her writing is adored by scholars but there's no reason why the average person can't or shouldn't enjoy her writing as well.

This page is dedicated to the author and philosopher Iris Murdoch and her novels as I work through them. Feel free to take the journey with me.

"Language is not a cage."

~Iris Murdoch

Add Under the Net to your Book Shelf

Under the Net
Under the Net

Join Jake on his escapades through the streets of London as he looks for a long lost friend and meets an array of interesting characters.


Iris Murdoch Discusses Philosophy and Literature

A Listing of Iris Murdoch Novels - From 1954 to 1995

An "*" beside title means they are still available in print.

  1. Under the Net (1954) *
  2. The Bell (1958)*
  3. Flight from the Enchanter (1956)
  4. The Sandcastle (1957)*
  5. A Severed Head (1961)*
  6. An Unofficial Rose (1962)*
  7. The Unicorn (1963)*
  8. Italian Girl (1964)
  9. The Red and the Green (1965)
  10. The Time of the Angels (1966)
  11. The Nice and the Good (1968)*
  12. Bruno's Dream (1969)
  13. A Fairly Honourable Defeat (1970)*
  14. An Accidental Man (1971)*
  15. The Black Prince (1973)*
  16. The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974)*
  17. A Word Child (1975)
  18. Henry and Cato (1976)
  19. The Sea, The Sea (1978)* Winner of the Booker Prize
  20. Nuns and Soldiers (1980)*
  21. The Philosopher's Pupil (1983)
  22. The Good Apprentice (1985)*
  23. The Book and the Brotherhood (1987)*
  24. The Message to the Planet (1989)
  25. The Green Knight (1993)*
  26. Jackson's Dilemma (1995)*

"We can only learn to love by loving." ~Iris Murdoch

Iris - The Movie...

Beautifully filmed creative biography telling the story of Iris's life from the perspective of her husband and long time companion John Bayley. It stars Kate Winslet as a young Iris and Judi Dench as a senior Iris. If you are a fan of romantic movies then you are sure to enjoy this film. Here is the movie trailer for Iris.

The Interview Continues Here

John Bayley On Iris

John Bayley met Iris at Oxford where he was a professor. He was with Iris for over 40 years. No one knew her like he did. He's written an number of books about her and her writing.

"Some kinds of obsession, of which being in love is one, paralyze the ordinary free-wheeling of the mind, its natural open interested curious mode of being, which is sometimes persuasively defined as rationality. I was sane enough to know that I was in a state of total obsession and that I could only think, over and over again, certain agonizing thoughts, could only run continually along the same rat paths of fantasy and intent. But I was not sane enough to interrupt this mechanical movement or even the desire to do so."

~Iris Murdoch (The Sea, The Sea)

"Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real." ~Iris Murdoch

Quotes from Iris Murdoch

  1. "In almost every marriage there is a selfish and an unselfish partner. A pattern is set up and soon becomes inflexible, of one person always making the demands and one person always giving way."
  2. "Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea."
  3. "Falling out of love is very enlightening. For a short while you see the world with new eyes."
  4. "Only lies and evil come from letting people off."
  5. "The absolute yearning of one human body for another particular body and its indifference to substitutes is one of life's major mysteries."
  6. "Youth is a marvelous garment."
  7. "Philosophy means looking at things which one takes for granted and suddenly seeing that they are very odd indeed."
  8. "Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins."
  9. "Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved."
  10. "Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out."
  11. "One doesn't have to get anywhere in a marriage. It's not a public conveyance."
  12. "Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real."

"We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality." ~Iris Murdoch

How do you feel about Iris Murdoch books? Do you have a favorite? Please share your ideas on Iris Murdoch's writing.

Are you a Lover or a Hater?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Anyone have any idea why "Under the Net" has never been made into a movie? It is one of the most cinematic reads I have known. Fun characters, rollicking story, mystery, surprise, comic mayhem, some light "Dinner with Andre" dialogue, and plenty of "filmed on location" possibilities.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I haven't heard of her before, and I have to admit they don't sound like my kind of books, but you did an excellent job on this lens about Iris. Blessed.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Very nice lens! Good work *****

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 9 years ago

      I wasn't familiar with Iris Murdoch, but you've definitely put her on my radar screen. Nice lens!