Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

Philosophical and Literary Influences
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889– 1951) influenced many writers and philosophers...

(The entire section is 950 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

First Person Narrative
Murdoch uses a first person narrator for Under the Net, but, rather than using a female voice, she...

(The entire section is 668 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Bove, Cheryl K., Understanding Iris Murdoch, University of South Carolina Press, 1993, p. 36.


(The entire section is 357 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Bove, Cheryl K. Understanding Iris Murdoch. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. A lucid and valuable handbook for college students that separates Murdoch’s works into two broad categories—the ironic tragedy and the bittersweet comedy—to explain how the writings express her philosophy, depict human relationships, and handle plot and theme.

Conradi, Peter J. Iris Murdoch. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. A biography of the novelist that examines her early life as an imaginative only-child, through the trauma of World War II, up to her final years. Describes Murdoch’s life as a search for good in a particularly evil century.

Grimshaw, Tammy. Sexuality, Gender, and Power in Iris Murdoch’s Fiction. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005. Examines representations of power, sexuality, and gender in Murdoch’s fiction, providing a feminist reading of the work and describing how Murdoch’s treatment of homosexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing, and related issues reflect her preoccupations with reality and morality.

Nolan, Bran. Iris Murdoch: The Retrospective Fiction. 2d ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Takes a psychological approach to Murdoch’s work, focusing on how she represents past events and their effects on her characters. Includes analysis of novels that were not discussed in the first edition, published in 1999; also includes a new preface, an updated bibliography, and three additional chapters covering Murdoch’s most important and popular novels.

Rowe, Anne, ed. Iris Murdoch: A Reassessment. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. A collection of essays that reinterprets Murdoch’s work in terms of twenty-first century debates about the aesthetic impulse, moral philosophy, gender and sexuality, literature, and authorship. Includes comparisons of Murdoch’s work with works by other authors.

Spear, Hilda D. Iris Murdoch. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Provides an introduction to Murdoch’s novels, tracing how she progressively uses the plots of her books to address philosophical issues such as the nature of reality as well as good and evil.

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

1950s: Elizabeth II is crowned queen of England, and Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, and Harold MacMillan, consecutively, are...

(The entire section is 168 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

• Iris Murdoch is said to have been influenced by both Jean-Paul Sartre and Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein. Choose one of these...

(The entire section is 246 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

• Often acclaimed as Murdoch’s best work The Sea, The Sea (1978), a Booker Prize–winning novel, tells the story of Charles...

(The entire section is 500 words.)