(Jean) Iris Murdoch 1919–
British novelist and playwright.
Murdoch's education in philosophy is evident in her novels which have as a central concern the ethics and moral alternatives of the English middle class. A frequent theme is that love is rare and, indeed, possible only when an individual recognizes the importance of others. Some critics complain that the philosopher sometimes triumphs over the novelist, reducing characters to puppets thrown into situations to make a point. Murdoch's novels are intricately plotted and often treat complex and fantastic situations rather melodramatically. Critical reaction to her work is generally divided; some critics see her as a major contemporary novelist, others as a middle-brow romancer.
(See also CLC, Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 15, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 13-16, rev. ed.)