Iris Murdoch's Paradoxical Novels

Iris Murdoch's Paradoxical Novels

Thirty Years of Critical Reception

Barbara Stevens Heusel

The first study of the literary criticism on Murdoch's novels.
The novels of the late Iris Murdoch have been compared to Shakespeare; her name has been put forward for the Nobel Prize in literature; her works have been translated into 29 languages; and no less a critic than Harold Bloom has said of her 'no other contemporary British novelist seems to me to be of Murdoch's eminence.' Collecting the major critics who have described for the last third of a century the phenomena of Iris Murdoch's fiction, this study analyzes the stories those critics tell about her artistic processes. Murdoch passed away in February 1999 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, and now it seems time to examine her critical reception. There are three major questions at the heart of this reception and at the heart of the present study: to what extent is Murdoch a philosophical novelist, a realistic novelist, a postmodern novelist? The book also deals with the question of Murdoch's reputation in the literary world: an intriguing question in view of the praise of Bloom and other critics and writers. This is the first full-length work to deal with the literary criticism on Murdoch.

Barbara Stevens Heusel isprofessor of English at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri.

Table of Contents

A Philosophical Novelist? Early Dialogues
A Philosophical Novelist? A Range of Perspectives
A Philosophical Novelist? Questioning of the Earlier Criticism
Murdoch's Moral Psychology
The Realist Dilemma
Postmodernist Experimentation


[Heusel] offers even-handed summaries of divergent points of view... A welcome addition to the growing body of Murdoch scholarship, this volume will be a key resource for those beginning their investigations of the writer's rich oeuvre. CHOICE

Also in Series