What Do I Read Next?
• Often acclaimed as Murdoch’s best work The Sea, The Sea (1978), a Booker Prize–winning novel, tells the story of Charles Arrowby, a tyrannical director-playwright, who decides to retire after a forty-year-long career in the theatre. He moves to a home by the sea and plans to write his memoirs about an old love affair. Things do not go as he had thought, as he is visited by people from his past (some of them no longer alive) and he learns a lot more about himself than he thought he wanted to know.
• The Black Prince (1973) is another of Murdoch’s more reputed works. It is an experimental novel, and the story is told by Bradley Pearson, a selfconscious writer who is a perfectionist. He ends up in jail for a crime he did not commit.
• Jean-Paul Sartre introduced Murdoch to the philosophy of existentialism. She was most fond of his Being and Nothingness (1956), which began the existentialist movement and consists of essays on the topic of consciousness and free will. To live authentically, Sartre believed, one needs to be conscious of one’s own acts. Existentialism was said to have heavily influenced Under the Net.
• Albert Camus, a contemporary and fellow existentialist of Sartre, wrote The Stranger (1946), considered one of the most widely read novels of the twentieth century. It tells the story of Meursault, a disaffected, amoral man who is alienated from society. Meursault, a young Algerian, ends up killing a man. His trial, however, reflects less on his crime than on his so-called deficient character.
• One of Murdoch’s favorite authors was George Eliot, whose The Mill on the Floss (1860) relates the ordeals of a young woman, Maggie Tulliver, who has great difficulty adapting to her provincial world. Her intelligence is denied by all, except for one friend, whom her older brother eventually forbids her to see.
• Leo Tolstoy was another author whom Murdoch praised. His novel The Death of Ivan Ilych (first published in Russian in 1886) is a classic work, presenting...
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