The influence and impact of Iris Murdoch’s work is increasing exponentially each year and the Iris Murdoch Review likewise seems to grow with each issue. This edition contains a wide-ranging collection of essays, reviews and reports variously connected by specific features. We begin with celebrations of Murdoch at home and abroad, then move on to America, art, philosophy and literature – specifically by women writers: a set of topics that encapsulates Murdoch’s life of working, writing and travelling.
Murdoch concludes her essay ‘The Sublime and the Beautiful Revisited’ (1959) with a very expressive metaphor: ‘a novel must be a house fit for free characters to live in; and to combine form with a respect for reality with all its odd contingent ways is the highest art of prose.’ Surely we see this in The Sandcastle? Moreover, she never again explored the subject of portrait painting or indeed school-teaching in such depth, though we see in her next great novel The Bell a further development of an enclosed society with its tensions between sacred and profane love.
Encounters with Iris Murdoch in Oxford. What has emerged from most of these memories is how vivid they are and how receptive she was to meeting with ‘ordinary’ people, not necessarily in her academic or literary spheres.
The 2022 Iris Murdoch Review places Murdoch in dialogue with contemporary novelists and philosophers whose views put her beliefs into sharp relief and develop conversations that have been ongoing since Murdoch’s centenary in 2019.
Murdoch’s beer mats point the way to how some of the most dramatic moments of her life were played out in pubs, as indeed they are for many characters in her novels. The names of scores of pubs lie within their pages, for it is to pubs that characters go to weep, to quarrel, to think, to hope, and often to come to conclusions that will destroy their lives.