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.
Serious book collecting isn’t the draw it was for earlier generations, and the biggest prices are still attached to the works of the canonical dead white males (although Dickens can be surprisingly cheap), making Murdoch and some of her contemporaries viable and reasonable to collect. So how do you go about starting a collection of Murdoch’s works? Where do you find them? And, crucially, how much should you pay?
In this blogpost Arka Basu, the first recipient of the Barbara Stevens Heusel Early-Career Fund, discusses his doctoral work and future research in the UK