Barbara Stevens Heusel

Dame Iris at Seventy: An American Examines Her Feminist Record

By

In addition to bringing joy to us with her humour and irony, and breathing life into the novel form for three and a half decades, Iris Murdoch’s great strength has been to force us too observe our frenetic behaviour, our selfish fantasies, and our inability to pay attention to other people. If we are to survive on this planet, we must, Murdoch suggests in The Fire and the Sun, grow beyond our narcissism and learn to value human beings and art – ‘a great international human language’. No other living novelist has focused so tightly on modern man’s primary moral obstacle, his ‘cozy dreaming ego,’ and analysed so thoroughly the illusions it substitutes for love and art and death. In The Fire and the Sun Murdoch argues that literature can be as evasive and as subversive now as it was when Plato found it threatening:

Art, especially literature, is a great hall of rejection where we can all meet and where everything under the sun can be examined and considered. For this reason it is feared and attacked by dictators, and by authoritarian moralists such as the one older discuss ion [Plato]. The artist is the great informant, at least a gossip, at best a sage, and much loved in both roles.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,