The Bell

A long time ago I read the opening of Iris Murdoch’s novel The Sea, The Sea (1978), but something happened, and the book disappeared – or I did – before I came to the end of it.

The Bell (1958), which I have just put down, is therefore the first book by Murdoch that I have read, from first to last. My immediate comprehension of this novel is to see it as a mix of a farce and a moral tale – rather overwhelming, but not without charm. And it ends rather beautiful, in a cooled down last chapter where the main characters growth and development during the plot is presented in a calmer tone.

Here is a short presentation from Patrick Gale’s point of view:

As in most Murdoch novels, there’s an air of playful artificiality. On one level she knows a novel doesn’t matter – she writes for intelligent readers who should probably be doing better things with their time, like healing people or teaching Greek philosophy – and her dialogues exist on a bright, self-aware plane that’s not quite real, as though the characters were on stage. 

But on another level she’s writing about the only things that matter – love, goodness and how to be happy without hurting others – and, like her hero Plato, is using a seductively “easy” medium to bring us to deeper understanding.

Hm … , I must admit I really liked this novel, I might actually go and search for my old copy of The Sea, The Sea

9 comments on “The Bell

  1. I liked The Bell, but I cannot say I enjoyed A Word Child (though it was marvelously readable; I just didn’t like the plot). She revealed in several interviews how deeply she loved Dickens, and that’s evident in her characters and her plots with their mad coincidences. I think Murdoch was one of our most brilliant writers in English…and she doesn’t underestimate her readers. The reader has to want to work a bit at reading and puzzling, and be curious enough to enjoy the task Murdoch sets before us. Patrick Gale’s quote says as much–I agree with him!

  2. Dear Sigrun, I came across your post on The Sea, The Sea while doing a Google search about Iris Murdoch novels. I saw “Sub Rosa” and thought, “Hang on, I know this person” 🙂 So lovely to read your old archives and I’m stunned to think you’ve been blogging for four years. I only hope I have your staying power! Best regards, Laura

    • Thank you so much, Laura. I don’t think I ever thought about the future when writing my blog, it just feels very interesting in the moment. But really great to hear that some of “the old stuff” still can be of interest …
      Love, Sigrun

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s