The Philosopher's Pupil (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
In her most recent novel, The Philosopher’s Pupil, Iris Murdoch brings together many of the philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic concerns that have dominated her fiction during her thirty years as a novelist. The futility of philosophy as a means of perceiving truth, the tendency of certain individuals to act as power figures in the lives of others, and the difficulty of understanding human behavior and motivation are all explored in a sprawling, panoramic novel narrated by a mysterious narrator who calls himself simply “N.”
The philosopher of the novel’s title is John Robert Rozanov, a world-renowned metaphysician who has returned recently to his hometown of Ennistone, England, in order to rewrite his “great book,” a work that will summarize and illuminate a lifetime of philosophical speculation. He has returned also to protect his granddaughter Hattie Meynell from the “vulgar sexuality” of the modern world, a feat that he hopes to accomplish by marrying her off to Tom McCaffrey, the younger half brother of his former student George McCaffrey. Rozanov is the latest in the long line of characters in Murdoch’s fiction who exert an unexplainable and powerful influence on those around them and set off a series of events that radically alter the lives of many individuals. Rozanov’s return gives Murdoch an opportunity to...
(The entire section is 1761 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Antioch Review. XLI, Fall, 1983, p. 509.
The Atlantic. CCLII, August, 1983, p. 100.
Boston Review. VIII, October, 1983, p. 37.
Christian Science Monitor. July 6, 1983, p. 9.
Hudson Review. XXXVI, Winter, 1983, p. 748.
Library Journal. CVIII, June 1, 1983, p. 1158.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 3, 1983, p. 2.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVIII, July 17, 1983, p. 1.
Newsweek. CI, June 20, 1983, p. 75B.
Time. CXXI, June 27, 1983. p. 72.
(The entire section is 55 words.)