Under the Net Topics for Further Study
by Iris Murdoch

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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 philosophers and analyze Murdoch’s Under the Net in relation to his basic tenets. How does Murdoch demonstrate the philosopher’s beliefs through her protagonist?

• What was the literary atmosphere in Europe and in the United States during the middle of the twentieth century? Which authors were winning literary prizes? What were the literary critics saying about the works contemporary to their times? What major literary movements were developing? Write a research paper that concludes with a reading list of novels prominent at the time.

• Research the activities of the Communist Party in London from the 1940s through the 1960s. How did the Communist Party affect politics in England? How involved was it in the labor movement? Are there any remaining effects of the Communist Party on politics and social issues in London today?

• Research Alzheimer’s disease and explain what it is, how it affects a person, what current research of the disease has revealed, and whether a cure is available.

• Read John Bayley’s memoirs Elegy for Iris and Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire, and then write your own biography of Iris Murdoch for an audience of elementary-school children. Keep your language simple and the story interesting but uncomplicated. What elements of Murdoch’s life do you think might most interest children of this age? Most inspire them?