A Word Child by Iris Murdoch

By Iris Murdoch

A significant yet deeply fallacious guy struggles to earn absolution

Hilary Burde used to be a emerging big name in academia until eventually a sad coincidence plunged him and his mentor and rival, Gunnar Jopling, into 20 years of melancholy and guilt. Hilary, not able to beat his ache, deserted his promising occupation for an unfulfilling activity as a civil servant. yet at age 41, Hilary crosses paths back with Gunnar—initiating a chain of occasions that may swap their lives forever. 

Set opposed to a richly drawn backdrop of post-war London, A note Child is a gripping tale of ardour and the redemptive energy of affection.

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Example text

As we shall go on to argue below, the main focus of the narrative is not on Basilius’s gender but on the office that he holds and his abrogation of the duties belonging to it. So Basilius can be read as suggesting some of the dimensions of Elizabeth’s position. Arcadia works with a series of equivalences that ‘figure forth’, as Sidney’s first biographer Fulke Greville wrote, particular ideas and issues, working through suggestion and shadowings rather than precise identifications. So the strength of the passages surrounding Philisides and the Iberian tournament in Arcadia establishes a connection, as Dennis Kay suggests, with Sidney and Elizabeth’s Accession Day tilts, and these textual events invite readers to understand Philisides as sometimes more successful than his historical counterpart.

I was thinking this poor carp was the unhappy Pamela. I was comparing myself to my naughty master. As we deceived and hooked the poor carp, so was I betrayed by false baits; and when you said, play it, play it, it went to my heart, to think I should sport with the destruction of the fish I had betrayed: I could not but fling it in again; and did you not see the joy with which it flounced from us? ’78 The identification of the woman with the fish rather than, as in the Arcadia example, with the angler is not unprecedented as we saw in Wroth’s Urania where the fishing maid compares the fish betrayed by baits with her own betrayal by ‘the craft of love’ (U, I: 288).

At a broad level Basilius represents the dangers of a political leader who fails to take advice from his counsellors – a situation familiar to Philip Sidney and many others like him. Gynecia similarly conceives a great passion, but her position is very differently marked within the patterns of the book. Her error is singular, not part of a theme of the character-based mistakes to which Basilius is heir. Apart from this transgression, Gynecia is worthy, indeed is ‘of more princely virtues than her husband’ (NA, p.

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