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The Black Prince (Penguin Classics) Kindle Edition

36 customer reviews

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Length: 418 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


   • Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

   • With an Introduction by Candia McWilliam

   • "A source of wonder and delight... No summary can do justice to the rich intricacy of character and incident with which Miss Murdoch crowds every page." --Spectator

   • "This is great Murdoch. It rings as clear as The Bell... her humour is all the more achingly funny because she keeps it on the edge of our vision." --Daily Mail

From the Inside Flap

A story about being in love The Black Prince is also a remarkable intellectual thriller with a superbly involuted plot, and a meditation on the nature of art and love and the deity who rules over both. Bradley Pearson, its narrator and hero, is an elderly writer with a 'block'. Encompassed by predatory friends and relations - his ex-wife, her delinquent brother and a younger, deplorably successful writer, Arnold Baffin, together with Baffin's restless wife and youthful daughter - Bradley attempts escape. His failure and its aftermath lead to a violent climax; and to a coda which casts a shifting perspective on all that has gone before.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1393 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (March 25, 2003)
  • Publication Date: March 25, 2003
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ELA59M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the most influential British writers of the twentieth century. She was awarded the 1978 Booker Prize for The Sea, The Sea, won the Royal Society Literary Award in 1987, and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 by Queen Elizabeth. Her final years were clouded by a long struggle with Alzheimer's before her passing in 1999.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Christine Menendez on February 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Just adding to the plethora of reviews and putting in my two or three cents. Dame Iris is said to have possessed a prodigious and heavy intellect. And one can see, in reading her works, that this is very true. She is able to see into all the various emotional responses of myriad characters, and to do so faultlessly. Yes, we say, this is true! This is the way he would think and act (or the way I would think and act.) She is mercilessly honest in her descriptions, whether they be of thoughts or actions. And I found the book very humorous. Our hero, Bradley, is himself a humorous character, so serious and caught up in himself. He is a buffoon who constantly makes the wrong choices, yet intellectualizes everything and rationalizes everything to suit himself. I think this is quite an amazing book. As one reviewer who didn't like the book remarked, it is a farce. And yes, it is a farce. But there are nonetheless deep truths running around in here. Dame Iris had this incredible ability to see through people, to put herself in their places and understand just what they would do in any given circumstance. Her characters are so impeccably drawn that we know them utterly.

To be able to weave a good story is one thing, that makes a good story-teller. To be able to create characters which live and breathe is yet another thing, and many writers base their works on this alone. But to be able to write impeccably precise prose , create living characters, tell a great story, and have a moral imperative is what makes great literature.

The Black Prince is worth a read. This is great literature, and a whole lot easier than all those Russian guys.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Jacobs VINE VOICE on April 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Black Prince tells the story of Bradley Pearson, an aging writer with few publishing credits to his name. He feels a masterpiece within him, but finds his efforts to focus on his work thwarted by pressures from the women in his life: his sister, his ex-wife, and his best friend's wife and daughter. Murdoch introduces Pearson as a reserved, self-indulged, and solitary man, committed to producing his life's masterpiece and averse to involve himself in others personal affairs. Reluctantly, he comes to the aid of those who seek him out each time he tries to depart for a quiet space in the countryside, further delaying the creation of his masterpiece.
The story starts out slowly. Pearson's self-absorption and righteousness do not inspire the reader's sympathy nor do the other characters, who privately abuse, cheat, or wish death upon their loved ones while maintaining respectable public appearances. Murdoch intersperses this introduction to the dual-natured main characters and their immediate crises with a great deal of philosophy about the nature of love, art and truth. These issues were Murdoch's passion as a philosopher, but the frequency with which she raises such difficult questions detracts from the story line.
Midway through the book, the pace picks up rapidly. Murdoch successfully involves the reader in the passion -- referred to as the black Eros -- that could awaken Pearson's creativity, causing lasting consequences and turning the relations between English intellectuals into a literary thriller. Murdoch twists and turns the story in a way that makes the reader care for and even sympathize with each character as they struggle with aspects of love and human emotion.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1996
Format: Paperback
"The Black Prince" is my favorite novel, and I can recommend it unreservedly for its vivid characters, for its complexity, its wit, its drama, for its analysis of human failings and triumphs, loves and hates, and for its prose, which is ecstatic, biting, and brilliant. The ambiguously romantic Black Prince of the title, Bradley Pearson, is an aged bachelor, whose range of somewhat histrionic emotions involves the serene Rachel Baffin, her confused daughter Julian, Rachel's novelist husband Arnold, Bradley's rival in so many ways, Bradley's dysfunctional sister Priscilla, and Bradley's prying ex-wife Christian, who holds the possibility of solace and redemption. In amongst this tangled web they weave Bradley "meditates" on art and metaphysics, sleeping and waking, life and death.

Iris Murdoch is the English authoress of a score of popular novels. Unlike the submissions of most writers who attempt to be popular, Ms. Murdoch's elegant fictions are literature, and are also aspirants to the semi-mythical realm of "art". And what is "art"? Is it not, in at least its principle manifestation, great entertainment? And I would assert that the greatness of the entertainment depends mightily upon the reader. I know a man who thinks, and says, that all of Iris Murdoch's books are alike. Very well. Emotional response is surely the beginning of literary criticism (otherwise why bother reviewing this book, or that one?). I identified with Bradley Pearson for several years of my life, and was jubilant that he lived in a world of funny, thoughtful, intensely interesting people, most of whom were not relatives.
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