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.
We are delighted to announce the full line-up for our Virtual Conference next month, 15th July 2021. All the papers, bar the plenaries, will be available to watch in advance via this link.
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.
I don’t know whether Murdoch is right about God, but I’m pretty sure that she’d have struggled to understand my reasons for getting up at 6 a.m. to watch soccer. Unlike the old lady in her story, I’m under no illusions. The empty stadiums and canned crowd noise of the pandemic might have brought it home more forcefully, but on some level I’ve always known the game is just a dog’s tooth. The interesting question is why that doesn’t stop it from glowing.
Iris Murdoch met the painter Harry Weinberger (1924-2009) by chance in the mid-1970s and in him she instantly recognised a kindred spirit. For more than two decades, they maintained an intimate friendship and rigorous intellectual discourse, centred on sustained discussion of the practice, teaching and morality of art.