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Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934-1995 (Hardback)
  • Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934-1995 (Hardback)
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Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934-1995 (Hardback)

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£25.00
Hardback 688 Pages / Published: 05/11/2015
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Iris Murdoch made her writing debut in 1954 with Under the Net. Her twenty-six novels include the Booker prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978), the James Tait Black Memorial prize-winning The Black Prince (1973) and the Whitbread prize-winning The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974). Her philosophy includes Sartre: Romantic Rationalist (1953) and Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992); other philosophical writings, including The Sovereignty of Good (1970), are collected in Existentialists and Mystics (1997). Writers including AS Byatt, Philip Hensher and Patrick Gale cite her as influences, and she was the subject of the 2001 Richard Eyre feature film Iris starring Kate Winslet and Judi Dench.

Here, for the first time, is Iris Murdoch's life in her own words, from her schoolgirl days to her last years. The letters show a great mind at work - we see the young Murdoch struggling with philosophical issues and witness her anguish when a novel won't come together. As well as her sharp sense of humour and irreverence, they also reveal her personal life, the subject of much speculation, in all its complexity: her emotional hunger and her tendency to live on the edge of what was socially acceptable. We see how this fed into her novels' plots and characters, despite her claims that her fiction was not drawn from reality. Living on Paper brings together Iris’s correspondence with the French author Raymond Queneau and Bulgarian writer Elias Canetti, the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, as well as with her various lovers, including philosopher Philippa Foot, novelist Brigid Brophy and student David Morgan. These letters bring us closer than ever before to Iris Murdoch as a person. They make for an extraordinary and intimate reading experience: she is wonderful company.

"Murdoch's letters are enjoyable, even moving; but read in bulk they can make her come across as self indulgent, morally bogus and emotionally incontinent." -  Financial Times

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9780701187057
Number of pages: 688
Weight: 991 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 43 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Astonishing" -- John Sutherland
"Deeply impressive" * Guardian *
"Reading these letters is like living Murdoch's whole creatively, sexually and intellectually voracious life alongside her, and at breakneck speed. Thrilling" -- Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live: A Life of Montaigne
"The letters themselves have been selected with conviction and care...the overwhelming sense of this volume is one of richness" * Times Literary Supplement *
"Her mind, here as in everything she wrote, is formidable" * New York Times *
"Astonishing epistolary abundance from a woman who meant it when she told a friend that she could "live in letters"... Few books leave the reader with as dizzying sense of the need to question absolutely everything" * Daily Telegraph *
"We find a passionate engagement with the world of ideas, but most of all with friends, lovers, and pupils. These letters reveal Murdoch's extraordinary talent for affection, exuberant sense of fun, razor-sharp intelligence, and acute awareness of the transcendent" -- Karen Armstrong
"Exemplary... The reader grows up and grows old with Murdoch" * Literary Review *
"This collection of letters provides a fascinating insight into the life of a complex and important novelist. It is a wonderful book" -- Alexander McCall Smith
"Murdoch was not writing for posterity; she was writing for her friends, or rather as a way of maintaining her friendships, whether intellectual, passionate or both...the letters reinforce Murdoch's qualities as a person" * Independent *
"By turns, her letters show confidence, kindness and great consideration for her friends... For me, their real power is that they draw us back, irresistibly, to the books, her wonderful books... a vibrant portrait of this extraordinary woman" * Psychologies *
"An unprecedented exposure of the heart and mind of a major novelist and thinker (the author of 26 novels and three major works of philosophy) and a woman who lived a life of unusual intellectual and personal freedom" -- Anne Chisholm * Prospect *
"Few writers comprehend the murky human messiness of desire like Iris Murdoch, or could plot like her, and these letters show us why. Her life -- the multiple lovers, the emotional strain, the terrible food, the nuns and prizes and philosophy -- was chaos. She'll always be my favourite writer; now I understand why" -- Charlotte Mendelson
"Fascinating... The letters are full of examples of her tolerance and her genuine interest in the inner lives of her friends. They can move engagingly from a rough, self-deprecating account of her failures and achievements to a series of penetrating asides about human nature and the power of art to illuminate it" -- Richard Strachan * Herald Scotland *
"The letters are fervent, philosophical, frenetic and witty... If there is an overarching message in this volume is is how far ahead of her time Murdoch was" -- Rivka Isaacson * Independent on Sunday *

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