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Gic event sinks from his potential glorious rise in life to become a badly paid underutilized civil servant which is where the story begins To maintain his sanity Hilary has a strictly regimented life whether it be what he eats and wears or the days of the week he has dinner with the various people in his life These include his childlike sister Crystal his subordinate Arthur and Laura and Freddie Impiatt all of whom provide different atmosphere s for Hilary to play his acknowledged part Something clearly has to give in this mundane repressed life and it eventually does as we find out what the tragic event was and see its continuing repercussions play out in tempestuous fashionHilary may have had a difficult start in life but this as so often with Murdoch s male characters is not a man we can like or particularly empathize with He may be aware of his cruel rude and selfish behavior but takes few steps to change it and can t seem to stop himself torturing those he sees as weaker or beneath himself his girlfriend Thomasina Arthur Christopher his ex boy band flat mate all are subjected to his emotional brutality in one way or another not helped by the copious amounts of alcohol he consumes As his emotions vacillate from day to day so do those around him and by the end of the novel every main female character has been in tears at least once often because of Hilary who has ideas in his head of the role they should play and that they can only fail to live up to He is constantly grabbing women by the wrists in the novel like he s putting manacles on them and there is a sense of his restrained violence even with his beloved sister CrystalHis relationship in particular with Crystal who he seems to want to eep in a box like a toy is sometimes touching but primarily disturbing Crystal is a symbol of the innocence that Hilary has lost and as such he wants to Salvation: A Novel (Salvation Sequence) keep her cloistered unable to be potentially sullied She just had to be always available in a place fixed and controlled by me I had tonow at any moment where she was If that wasn t enough here is his comment about women in general b I was feeling so intensely sorry for myself by this time I was delighted to see Tommy After all a woman is a woman and it is her job to be a ministering angel Tommy ministered Yup he s a charmer alrightWe only hear about the other characters through Hilary s eyes and for the most part he takes them all for granted although the Impiatts and Clifford appear to use him as much as he uses them either for entertainment or company Much of the humor of the novel relies on Hilary s strident rudeness to others or unwillingness to play along with their jokes and schemes Most take place in the offices and in scenes in the flat and there is one particularly amusing scene between the Impiatts Hilary and Christopher This is very much however a sad and frustrating novel in so many ways as the inevitability of what is going to happen becomes clear and each character muddles their way through this wintry London lifeThe weather in the novel is a major presence it seems as though Murdoch s novels either take place in the blazing sunshine of summer or the cold and fog of winter this is a winter novel and the fog the cold and wet are pivotal in events that take place There are numerous scenes of walking through London of meetings in parks and by the river that are made dramatic by dripping hair and ice cold fingers and London itself and its landmarks such as Big Ben and its crammed tube trains of commuters is also part of this hemmed in atmosphere The park at Hampstead itself serves as Hilary s happy place in a uote which shows us not only this but Hilary s desire for structure and suppressed violence he says For me the park was the great divide between myself and a happier land into which I thought that I was destined to enter It was not to be It turned out that I was unfit for ordinary life I was always sorry that I had been too young to be in the war I would have enjoyed the war Nevertheless despite the freuent desire to strangle Hilary he makes for an engrossing read the writing is top notch and the ability of Murdoch to create a world of sualid apartments gloomy streets and thoroughly dislikable characters and yet still create that feeling of sinking into a good book from the very first page is present as always Some favorite Lines There is nothing like early promiscuous sex for dispelling life s bright mysterious expectations After a pause Tommy said Aren t you thinking rather too grandly of yourself You are just you after all with the crinkly hair and the crooked face and the odd socks on Her beautiful golden eyes were hidden by the thick glasses whereon all sorts of reflections were playing as she moved her head dealing with the bottle Her frizzy orange tinted hair hung heavily down as if a small thick mat had been laid upon her head I stared at that face and the universe seemed to circle round uietly like a great bird and come to rest Hilary a deprived and difficult boy is saved by a school master who nurtures his love of language He ends up at Oxford but most of the novel is set almost 20 years later when he is still suffering the results of a disastrous incident that ended his Oxford days More plot than a typical Murdoch novel but not entirely believable and too rushed at the end MotivesIt s hard to fathom the motivation of many of the characters and why they put up with particular people and situations but perhaps that s what intrigued me and compelled me to continue Some of the minor characters were the most vivid and realistic Clifford office colleagues etc Unsympathetic CharactersIt s tricky to make a novel work with an unsympathetic main character indeed very few sympathetic characters but overall this one does In Hilary s case whether Murdoch new it or not I don t think the condition was widely diagnosed in 1975 when it was written his behaviour seems like classic Asperger s syndrome It would certainly explain his lack of empathy obsessive routines and fascination with the mechanics of grammar rather than using language for expression and inference Novels With Slightly Similar CharactersIt is interesting to compare this with the very different Curious Incident by Mark Haddon my review HERE and maybe The Housekeeper and the Professor my review HER. Ars as head of his department Hilary hopes for forgiveness and a new life but finds himself haunted by a ghostly repetiti.
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online A Word Child – lavitamin.us
The most egregious facet of my Vintage Classics paperback edition of Iris Murdoch s A Word Child is undoubtedly the clumsy uote on the front cover from The Times Iris Murdoch is incapable of writing without fascinating and beautiful colour While my sanity refuses me any scope to contest the fascinating colour of Iris s writing it would be crass and unacceptably unfair to attribute this particular book with beautiful colour as it is with a master craftswoman s artful poise that Iris draws a very real monochrome yellow rendition of LondonInto this necessarily murky landscape Iris captures the complex frailties of human relationships and the fragile edifice of social behaviour as she draws the reader through the guilt ridden habitual purgatory of the protagonist Hilary Burde s passive reminiscence of life uite on a par with the devastating culpability which powers RR s War and Peace Engraving her legendary intelligence into every line of every page Murdoch entices the reader into a heartily pumping and fabulous charade of pain a calamitous world of sickening sibling relationships haunting nostalgia and naive virgin worshipAs the plot inevitably weaves into a powerful tapestry depicting childish renouncement of responsibilities the disaster slowly unravels in almost farcical proportions as Iris Murdoch displays what can earnestly be called one of the most cunningly paced and thoroughly unblemished examples of the genius at work on a novel My favourite Iris Murdoch and one of my favourite books London in the winter compare with Under the Net for London in the Summer Peter PanSloane Suare on the tubeI may be wrong but I think the boy at the centre of the Peter Pan story illed himself at Sloane Suare Underground station This is definitely my favourite of the Iris Murdoch book that I have so far read for the Murdoch a month challenge The characters are fascinating complex beings the story so finely plotted and yet it is a very readable Murdoch a page turner I loved the descriptions on London in this one London is a feature of IM s work but with this novel there were a lot of references to places I Transnasal Endoscopic Skull Base and Brain Surgery knew in London I go there very seldomI also enjoyed Hilary s Office life with the bickering and gossip and desk moving What a stupid coagulated mass of indistinguishable guilt and misery I had become How perfectly futile all my sufferings had been If only I could separate out that awful mixture of sin and pain if I could only even a for a short time even for a moment suffer purely without the burden of resentment and self degradation to which I had deliberately condemned myself there might be a place Hilary Burde is the word child of the title In school the only thing he did really well in was languages He excelled at words but not in using them creatively his interest was in learning how they worked together the grammar not the poetry An abused orphan his plan was to get a position at Oxford which he did and bring his sister Crystal to come live with him and be educated by him But an ill advised love affair with a married woman results in a tragedy and he finds himself working at a dead end government job his sister supporting herself as a seamstress He has a girlfriend Tommy who he treats horribly and a few friends who tolerate him It seems he has found his niche or rather his rut and will go on this way Until the wronged husband of his ill advised love affair comes to work as a higher up at the office he works at How will he deal with this Will he do the right thing this time around Burde is a thoroughly unlikable character He s weak he s narcissistic he expects the women in his life to just orbit uietly around him until he has use for them He has no ambition and no longer any dreams Basically he contributes little or nothing to the world Despite this Murdoch as managed to make the novel one I could not stop reading I have to admit it was rather like watching a slow motion car crash one where you wonder how many others he will take down with him this time Thankfully the supporting cast members are likable than Burde well most of them are His office mates are pretty strange All the supporting characters show themselves ultimately to have a lot to themselves than Burde assumes they have life love and volition beyond their association with him A very good book all round if you can take a main character who is a ds One of my favorites by by Ms Murdoch a great place to start if you ve never read her fiction very darkly funny also about mad love The word child of the title is Hilary Burde the narrator Using one of her rare first person narratives the book has an interesting structure with each chapter headed by a day of the week This is based on the order and routine Hilary has attempted to establish for his life by having certain things that he always does on certain days of the week and the novel follows him as this routine is gradually upended From childhood he escaped into his own world through a talent for languages partly due to the inexpiable horror of having caused the death of another man s wife an event which ended his promising Oxford career and sent him into a decade of self flagellation Gunnar the wronged widower reappears remarried but as paralyzed as Hilary by the events of twenty years ago Through the agency of an unfathomable half Indian servant Gunnar s second wife begins an euivocal intrigue with Hilary on the pretext of getting Gunnar to come to terms with his feelings about Hilary and Anne s death The moral imperatives of the developing situation are perceived in contradictory terms by Hilary and his small circle of confederates a persistent half wanted mistress a placid co worker and his effusively solicitous wife a rancorous homosexual friend the beautiful and mysterious servant his unpresentable but adored sister and her humbly devoted fiance Murdoch gives us all the machinery and then some for a cause of conscience of the most perverse contradictory and surreal complexity in a subjectively perceived post Christian universe where moral impasses obstinately continue to exist and to have conseuences but no canon law can help us predict them The result of the events is a resounding triumph One can see themes develop and abound the first person narrativeeeps you riveted in spite of the limits of this point. Introduction by Ray MonkSaved by education from a delinuent childhood cheated of Oxford by a tragic love tangle Hilary Bu.
Of view Essentially it is a Gothic tale whose atmosphere concerns fall and redemption The author s use of stylistic effects is outstanding I enjoyed the neat obvious and effective structure of the book which Souvenirs de dbauches kept the events within reasonable limits Some may find Murdoch somewhat challenging but but I relish the feeling that the in this case as with her best novels goods have been delivered Murdoch will win you overdespite yourselfHilary Burde grows up in poverty abused He s saved by a tutor who notices his language skills and works with him to hone them Hillary is admitted to Oxford and finds a lush learning environment and yet another devoted tutor He thrives and dreams of saving himself and his younger sister from their childhood Just when he s ready to soar he commits a horrible act and his world crashes Burde is one of the most despicable literary characters I think I ve ever encountered yet Murdoch s portrayal is compelling her revelatory pacing exuisite Hillary seems to say I can t forgive myself so it s your responsibility to if not forgive me excuse my bad behavior towards you You owe me I m entitled to indulge my basest instincts I hate myself so much I m entitled to hate and abuse you His outlook is pretty mesmerizing Murdoch s style is outside almost any other writer The writing is at times incredibly beautiful but the characters especially the main one are horrible I ve read her Black Prince and The Nice and the Good which I also liked but A Word Child is on a whole different level I wish I could say I loved her books but they re so lurid I can t As with all her books Word has an aura of exulted learning theind that Oxford and other institutions of its ilk are nown for It makes the action harder to relate to The educated Psychopath could be an alternate title Though Word Child was written in the mid 80 s it could easily be mistaken for something written in the fifties because the s and sexism would be at home during that time Maybe Philip Roth was her proof reader though this cast of characters prove not only men can be misogynists More likely Murdoch s illustrating a point about one individual s twisted mind Poor Hilary Poorer still are the women who bump against him The men who cross his path aren t enjoying his company much eitherI almost feel stupid reviewing Murdoch s book because she writes with a depth of nowledge and an understanding of people at least a certain segment of them that her books seem untouchable by mere mortals She s like a scientist cutting live things open to see what s beating crawling or bleeding inside I don t think she s the greatest writer who ever lived but she s whizzing in and out of them She s not for everyone though She s dark Her characters writhe about and suffer and they make the reader suffer with them It ain t pretty Well ok it Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary kind of is lovely It s a loveliness that catches you unawares especially when you turn the page only to encounter something even tawdry flip another page and you re in an oasis of beauty Yet even as you turn the next page you re tremblingnowing you re gonna get plunged back into icy watersand it s the dead of winter It s too late for me This book solidified my devotion to Murdoch It s not too late for you SAVE YOURSELF I m giving this book four stars but liking is not exactly an emotion I associate with this read Frustration yes despair Exasperation at the way the characters all seem to be caught in their behavioral patterns Admiration for the intellectual elouence of the narrator Respect for the author who weaves her words so that I stayed with the story for all of its 400 pagesFor a long time I wanted to read something by Murdoch She has been praised and awarded and now I now why since she really is a very accomplished writer I m glad I read this book for the experience of having read a book by her But I would not lightly recommend this read to anyone elseThe themes are those of the great Tragedies being haunted by the Past being driven by Fate toward some inescapable Doom Wanting to be Forgiven There are many beautiful philosophical musings in the book on these subject which make it worth while for anyone wanting to read about themBut for anyone not particularly craving to be depressed this is not an advisable bookThe main character deports himself in such an unlikable manner he attracts a crowd of people who either mock or pity him or both I found it hard to depict him in my mind s eye He s big bullying and brusue and yet has a following of females who make him the center of their lives out of pity or a sense they can save him or masochismThere seems to be a misogynist trait to this novel all the women derive their worth from being with or waiting for a man This book does not pass the Bechdel test which simply dictates that it should answer the following three criteria 1 it has to have at least two women in it who 2 who talk to each other about 3 something besides a man I was a bit surprised by that since I always thought of Murdoch as a modern woman It makes the book a bit unrealistic for me even if it is set in the seventies None of the women seems to have a voice that is truly her own they all use the same language and phrases Even the simple Crystal is uite elouent and intelligent there is nothing in speech or demeanor that distinguishes the characters from each otherBut that goes for the male characters as well Even though difference in class and standing play a great role it is never really felt in the conversations They are all on one level even when they argueThe end of the novel answers to the laws of tragedy which is slightly satisfying On the other hand there is no real change in the main character at the end he and his main woman continue in the same unresolved manner they had in the beginningAll in all reading this book was like being trapped in a windowless small room without any fresh air Since that is obviously what the writer intended I can respect the craftmanship Putting the book away now that I ve finished it feels like a great relief The narrator of this the seventeenth novel by Iris Murdoch is a forty one year old man called Hilary Burde who had a difficult childhood as an orphan and could only use violence to express himself He is eventually mentored by a teacher Mr Osmand goes to Oxford and then after a tra. Rde cherishes his obsessive guilt and disappointment in a dull civil service job When the man whom he has betrayed reappe.
Dame Jean Iris Murdoch Irish 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