The Book and the Brotherhood

Iris Murdoch, Author Viking Books $19.95 (607p) ISBN 978-0-670-81912-6
The opening scenes of this charged and potent novel, Murdoch's 23rd, are flooded with gaily bedizened dancers at an Oxford Midsummer Night's ball. Couples in Shakespearean disarray chase and lose one another through the gardens. Gradually, a design becomes visible in the dense, chaotic weave of a slowly gathering fictional world. A male and female ""brotherhood,'' bookishly inclined, give financial support to one of their number, the fanatic, red-haired, possibly mad writer Crimond. The friends worry about Crimond's mysterious, ongoing book. Is he a ``maverick Marxist,'' urging terrorism to revolutionize the world? Crimond, strangely attractive to both men and women, while scorning and exploiting the ``old dreamy continuum'' of the brotherhood (which resembles the human condition), seems evil incarnate. Jean adores him, however, and leaves her bear-like, devoted husband for him. The lovers are less hilariously depicted than the similarly self-glorifying adulterers in The Good Apprentice. Here the satire is somber, the sense of character both sinister and muffled. But religious myths, theatrics and games offer salvation in the rising spirit of glee that marks the novel's latter portion. The couples' joyous pairings and recovery of serene, humorous domesticity re-enact the solutions of dark comedy. Fertile in the arts of language, story and philosophy, Murdoch brilliantly entertains the robust reader. 35,000 first printing. (February)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1988
Release date: 02/01/1988
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-14-010470-7
Hardcover - 608 pages - 978-0-7011-3251-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0298-5
Open Ebook - 624 pages - 978-1-4070-1931-4
Open Ebook - 624 pages - 978-1-101-52309-4
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