At first glance, Malcolm may seem like a surprising choice as a guide to Murdoch’s novels, because he is best remembered—or so the anecdotal evidence I have gathered suggests—as a Murdoch parodist rather than critic.
The first Sino-British Iris Murdoch Conference is scheduled for Sunday 8th August, 2021. This is the result of a growing relationship between the Research Centre at Chichester, and the growing number of academics in China.
I discovered Iris Murdoch’s novels around the same time that I was becoming immersed in Powell. I had read a few in England, starting with The Bell, before my move to Japan in the mid-1980s. And so, I became a Murdochian as well as a Powellian.
The Research Centre at Chichester was delighted to announce the start of a new working relationship with Palgrave Macmillan; an open-ended project entitled ‘Iris Murdoch Today’ that will produce two books a year (monographs and edited collections) overseen by myself and the Deputy Director of the Centre, Frances White.
Sorting through some material for my essay on Iris Murdoch’s links with Australia recently, I discovered the notes I took more than a decade ago when, towards the end of a long research trip to the UK, I drove to Oxford from Winchester to meet John and Audi Bayley.
Now libraries and archive collections are re-opening, and I am delighted that restrictions on travel have been lifted, so that I can make an appointment at the Iris Murdoch Special Collections at Kingston University, to continue my work on the archive material there.
Iris Murdoch, who lived for much of her childhood in Chiswick, was one of the best and most influential writers of the twentieth century. Iris was the only child of doting parents who married after a rather whirlwind romance.
In the years since I became a Quaker by convincement, no one has ever mentioned Iris Murdoch as a representative Quaker sensibility and thinker. In that same period of time I’ve also been convinced that the, shall we say, post-supernatural, post-fundamentalist condition is naturally Quaker, and is a reasonable contradiction of Sigmund Freud’s position that there’s no future for ‘illusions’ of the religious sort.
Following a successful Centenary Conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford in 2019, and given the difficulties of meeting in person, the first online Iris Murdoch Conference will take place at the University of Chichester in 2021.