We welcome new contributor, Eileen Battersby, who considers Iris Murdoch, ambivalent Irishwoman


This year could witness another fraught cultural struggle between Ireland and Britain as to the ownership of philosopher/novelist Iris Murdoch, whose centenary falls in July. Although born in Phibsboro—and she remained true to her personal Irishness—Murdoch is fixed within the Oxbridge world that was her personal universe. Her characters, with few exceptions, are products of that competitive, claustrophobic society and she explores the complex dilemmas of choice, desire and need: love, sex and, above all, ego. Ego and vanity dominate as her ‘impossibly young’ 50-somethings grapple for romantic fulfilment.

Metaphysical battles are waged in dense, deadly serious, completely comic narratives (honed by Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and Proust) that are also upper-class romps in which sex and philosophy are interchangeable. While she was the definitive Oxbridge insider, Murdoch, who died aged 79 in 1999 after Alzheimer’s disease had relentlessly erased her brilliant mind, never lost the ability to observe the inhabitants of her narrow academic world with open-eyed wonder. Sexual yearning and sexual guilt preoccupy her cast of clever Peter Pans who possess Oxbridge degrees, erudite vocabularies and smart wardrobes—favouring rich velvet, corduroy and the inevitable tweed. […]

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January/February 2019 (issue no.383)

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May Book Competition

The Doctor Who Sat for a Year

By Brendan Kelly

The twelve-month project of a self-confessed ‘Zen failure’

for a chance to win:

The Doctor Who Sat for a Year
By Brendan Kelly
ISBN: 978-0-7171-8457-6
Publisher: Gill Books



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