Well what a messed up little love pentangle that was I put off reading this book for a while because to be frank I am a coward Scared of the weighty prose Taut wit Scathing analogies of the midd
Well, what a messed up little love pentangle that was. I put off reading this book for a while because to be frank, I am a coward. Scared of the weighty prose? Taut wit? Scathing analogies of the middle classes on the cusp of a sexual revolution?No actually. Just a bit scared of the front cover. Sinister looking serial killer lady wielding a samurai sword or sabre of some description. It just freaked me out and I can't explain it. My friend Dana will corroborate this irrational fear of book covers because she was scared of my copy of The Master and Margherita for aaaaaages and when we were working together she always had to turn the book over so she couldn't see the cover with the picture of the big scary cat in the dinner jacket. See, I'm not the only one here.If you love to loath the characters that feature in your reads then this is the book for you. The delightful (and I do not mean this sincerely) Martin Lynch-Gibbons is a man who wears his "I'm an alpha male" hat with pride. I would say the hat was a baseball cap but he's so middle class it is probably a fedora. After embarking on an affair with a much younger lady he is then scandalised when his wife pips him to the punch and leaves him for her therapist. Ohhh the audacity! The he falls for someone else anyone but they don't really fall for him and before you know it, it's all a bit like Friends but its the episode where they all put their keys in a bowl. And it's not as funny and there is no Joey character. I didn't really have any sympathy for any of the characters, aside from Georgie Hands, the original paramour of loathsome Lynch-Gibbons, who seemed to get passed around like some kind of pet or trophy or bargaining tool, depending on whose emotional clutches she was in at the time. I failed to observe any castration in the novel, despite what it says in the blurb on the back (at one point I was wondering where the samurai sword might swing) but I suspect the castration is the implied mental castration of some of the characters, especially Martin who is largely responsible for creating a number of emotionally stunted situations and with each twist and affair he becomes less and less powerful.So to sum up; an unlikeable cast and no castration but an excellent short novella which is much less scary than the cover.The best A Severed Head By Iris Murdoch am Kindle As macabre as a Jacobean tragedy, as frivolous as a Restoration comedy, Iris Murdoch s fifth novel takes sombre themes adultery, incest, castration, violence and suicide and yet succeeds in making of them a book that is brilliantly enjoyable.. Dame Jean Iris MurdochIrish born British writer, university lecturer and prolific and highly professional novelist, Iris Murdoch dealt with everyday ethical or moral issues, sometimes in the light of myths As a writer, she was a perfectionist who did not allow editors to change her text Murdoch produced 26 novels in 40 years, the last written while she was suffering from Alzheimer disease She wanted, through her novels, to reach all possible readers, in different ways and by different means by the excitement of her story, its pace and its comedy, through its ideas and its philosophical implications, through the numinous atmosphere of her own original and created world the world she must have glimpsed as she considered and planned her first steps in the art of fiction John Bayley in Elegy for Iris, 1998 enpedia wiki Iris_Mur. Popular Books A Severed Head Extraordinarily funny, lean novel that somehow manages to be completely cynical while maintaining a belief in the possibility of love. The plot is hurtlingly insane, as the lead, Martin Lynch-Gibbon, and the 5 most important people in his life form an improbable love-hexagon whose Freudian complications are legion. The protagonist knows the least of anyone, which is always fun, and though his behavior throughout the book is repellent, Murdoch accomplishes the difficult task of making him likable, mostly through the parodist stiff-upper-lip way he approaches the dissolution of his marriage, his affair, his family, his crush, and his (marvelously concealed except for one glimmering line) gay crush. The writing is often amazing, generous. Martin's wine-selling co-workers, for example, are completely non-important to the plot, but they are described as such:"Mytten was a Roman Catholic, a sybarite, and an ass, but he was loyal and a decent judge of wine, and went down splendidly with my more snobbish clientele...(The secretaries) had been with me for some years now and I had been very worried in case one or other of them should take it into her head to get married , until the day when I realized, through some imperceptible but cumulative gathering of impressions, that they were a happy and well-suited Lesbian couple...Their faces and attitudes expressed their respective modes of sympathy: tall air Miss Hernshaw, long vainly courted by the imperceptive Mytten, swaying moist-eyed and ready to hold my hand, short dark Miss Seelhaft, frowning with concern as she polished her spectacles, darting me glances of brisk commiseration."This is pyrotechnic craft, Murdoch indulging herself in the name of some deep understanding of why we are reading her. These characters don't matter to the book, but they make it come alive all the same. The novel has its small experimental flourishes as well - there is a wonderful sequence of unsent letters, and this is the best line break I've ever seen, during a fight between Martin and his mistress."'When you took me to Hereford Square,' said Georgie, 'you took me through the looking glass. There's no going back now. I've had enough of having things around that I'm afraid to think of.''Well I'm not going to introduce you to Antonia, and that's that.''Antonia, this is Georgie Hands. Georgie, my wife.' I found these incredible words passing my lips. I was able to speak without stammering or choking. No one fainted."It's difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it, because beyond the writing, the plot is nuts. 6 characters are treated generously and with abandon. Honor Klein, in particular, is an absolute wild card, who has a sort of mystic dance scene with a samurai sword and some napkins that I will never forget. I see some negative attention being paid to this book by other Goodreads reviewers, and I was not surprised. The novel falls into the book-club trap, when characters are assessed as if they are real people, and their bad behavior (and everyone is so very, very bad) can seem a disappointment. Martin is a shiftless, lying, mostly dumb cad who commits physical violence against women, the kind of lead you will never see in a book in 2017. But Murdoch is a master, and she has created something more real than our expectations of reality. In this, A SEVERED HEAD reminds me a bit of Magic Mountain - each character has a personal philosophy, and they will follow it into oblivion. Beautiful, beautiful ending too, with an amazing last paragraph.My only complaints: too many descriptions of light, and too many uses of the word "golden." I'll live.