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The Book and the Brotherhood: A Story about Love and Friendship and Marxism (Penguin Fiction) Paperback – January 1, 1989


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The Book and the Brotherhood: A Story about Love and Friendship and Marxism (Penguin Fiction) + The Green Knight + The Nice and the Good
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140104704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140104707
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,372,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Fertile in the arts of language, story and philosophy, Murdoch brilliantly entertains the robust reader," said PW . The author's 23rd novel, this concerns a male and female, bookishly inclined "brotherhood," and one of their numbera fanatical, possibly mad writer.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Murdoch's long but moving 23rd novel follows a band of Oxford graduates who in their youth pledged monetary support to fellow student David Crimond to write a book of political philosophy. Now old age is approaching, none of the band has come to much, "the book" has yet to appear, and Crimond has turned out to be a moral and intellectual monster. There are fine set pieces here (a revelrous and finally sodden Oxford lawn party), but the novel's mood is chill. That Murdoch can work from the disaster and deceit at its center to a "new space of peace and freedom" is an inspiring achievement. Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id .
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Murdoch establishes a tone entirely different from those of her other novels. The characters seem more disturbed and more strained than those of her other works, yet their conclusions become more meaningful. In this novel, Murdoch may come as close as she ever does to the "real" world that we experience. It shows how difficult it is to be good, to throw off the tendencies towards self-delusion that keep us from seeing what is really going on in the world. Jenkin and Gerard are especially interesting characters in the contrast they create, and Crimond is fascinating because Murdoch allows him to remain vague for most of the novel. Also, the complex beginning that hints at A Midsummer Night's Dream is ingenious. Besides The Green Knight, this could be Murdoch's most ambitious work.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By George A. Soule on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This novel may be Murdoch's finest. It has a wonderful and large cast of memorable characters; their sufferings are both moving and laughable. It has the finest parrot in all literature. The problem I first had with the novel was discovering what it was about. There were so many major characters and so many bizarre incidents that I could not easily find the book's theme--and I had been taught to look for themes. I think that at the heart of the novel, often unnoticed by its readers, is Murdoch's narrator. The narrator is almost never intrusive, but her presence makes the novel hang together.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A. Hickman on February 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Iris Murdoch's "The Book and the Brotherhood" is a marvelously droll novel of manners that has the audacity to explore the philosophical and moral issues that have effectively paralyzed a group of `60s-era Oxford graduates. The novel opens, appropriately enough, at Oxford, where, in the shadow of their former classmates and professors, the friends have gathered some 25 years later for a Ball. The narrative follows the movements of the group in a Mozartian roundelay, as each is, in turn, humiliated by revenants that appear to mock the potential they have, with one notable exception, so ingloriously squandered. The title refers to a pact the graduates once made to underwrite a philosophical treatise to be written by David Crimond, the most charismatic of their set; to the consternation of each, however, it now appears that the book might actually become a reality, and the prospect of its publication leads the group to an orgy of self-reproach and soul searching. The event of the Ball also inspires one wife to leave her husband and to take up with Crimond, a decision that leads to unexpected complications in all their lives. The novel is full of comic and tragic moments whenever the principals, whom Murdoch likens to a chorus-line of snails, attempt to emerge from their shells. A second generation of thirty-somethings is headed down the same path of dalliance as their elders, or so it seems, until, in the final pages, Murdoch offer an affirmation, of sorts, in the form of a pending marriage. Readers familiar with earlier novels by the late Dame will not be disappointed by this weighty offering from 1987, which can only enhance Murdoch's already-secure reputation as one of the great novelists of her generation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James McAuley's Quill on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ah, it was a happy day in Beaumaris library in 1993 that I came upon this, my first Iris Murdoch novel. The characters in this book actually live in my head - and many of the set-piece scenes too - the opening Commem Ball with music by the appropriately-named band The Treason of the Clerks (puctuated by Gerard's disturbing interview with his old tutor Professor Levquist), Jenkin Riderhood's London flat with the windows open year-round, the squalor of Violet and Tamar Henshaw's quarters with the television permanently on (the mere presence of a televison is a sign of utter moral depravity in Iris's world!), Gerard's love for his parrot, Duncan Cambus's leonine mane of dark hair, the menacing ideological purity and commitment of David Crimond, half the cast of the novel ice-skating on Rose Curtland's pond, the tower in Ireland where two of the characters take refuge as lovers, and then the dark night that they deliberately drive their cars at each other along a country lane... I have written all of those from memory. If you seek a highbrow soap-opera about the liberal conscience in Englan just before the Wall came down, with some ice-skating thrown in, look no further.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wonderful blend of politics and Murdochian love-intrigue. It's a portrait of an enigmatic man on whom everybody projects his/her angst. Somehow moral progress emerges in small but meaningful ways.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The overload of characters, relationships and and personal intrigue is typical Iris Murdoch. One needs an academic approach to really interpret the significance and complexity of such entertaining and outrageous human interaction. It's probably worthy of reading at least twice.
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