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The Red and the Green Paperback – March 1, 1988

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Of all the novelists that have made their bow since the war she seems to me to be the most remarkable...behind her books one feels a power of intellect quite exceptional in a novelist" Sunday Times "This is a comedy with that touch of ferocity about it which makes for excitement" -- Elizabeth Jane Howard --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Introduction by Declan Kiberd

The scene is Dublin in 1916. As rebellion looms, tension mounts in the sombre, rain-soaked Dublin streets. A single Anglo-Irish family provides the diverse characters: Pat Dumay, a Catholic and an Irish patriot; his pious mother pursuing her private war with his step-father; Pat?s English-Protestant cousin Andrew Chase-White, an officer in King Edward?s Horse and Frances, the girl he loves. Weaving between them all moves Millie Kinnard ? fast, feminist, and only just respectable. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140027564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140027563
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An extended Anglo-Irish family living in the vicinity of Dublin on the eve of the Easter Rebellion of 1916 reflects the attitudes and pressures that lead eventually to the cataclysmic events at the Dublin Post Office. Andrew Chase-White, a young officer in the British Cavalry, has been assigned to Dublin, where he has often spent holidays with his extended family and where he has an almost-fiancee. His idolized cousin Patrick Dumay, "the iron man," is secretly a member of the Irish Volunteers and an admirer of Padraig Pearse. His teenaged cousin, hot-headed Cathal, supports the Citizen's Army under James Connolly.

As the action unfolds throughout the week leading to the uprising, the family interacts on several levels, revealing their mores, their dreams for the future of Ireland, their occasional tendency to look for religious significance in political destiny, and their personal hopes and failings. The story of Andrew's chaste courtship of Frances Bellman is thrown into sharp relief through the character of Millicent Kinnard, Andrew's aunt, a flamboyant and overtly sexual woman.

Millie has tempted one relative into abandoning his priestly calling, persuaded another to propose marriage to her as a way of solving her financial problems, and worked her wiles on her chaste young nephews, a generation or more younger than she is. Since she has a peripheral role in the rebellion, Millie, in the absence of a single main character, connects the older and younger generations both socially and politically, acting as a linchpin of the action.

Murdoch's stunning ability to choose precisely the right word or phrase leads to memorable descriptions which enliven the story and bring the large cast of characters to life.
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Format: Paperback
If written by almost any other author, "The Red and The Green" would get 5 stars from me. It's only on the scale of Murdoch's books that it gets 4. The title plays on Stendhal's "The Red and the Black," referring to the army and the church/university. Among other things, those are the two ways a young man could work his way up out of the peasantry. The choice presented by Murdoch's title would seem to highlight an Irishman's 1916 choice to fight with England against Germany, or to fight with Ireland against England.

No other author can display the complexity of an individual's motivation with Murdoch's succinct incisiveness. In two or three paragraphs she can show you some of your own internal drives, some of which you may not have known were there. Fear and greed, of course, but many subtle bargainings for advantage, and many buried desires, as well. Dublin in the spring of 1916 may be unrivaled as the place compacted with the most complex and conflicted population of differing human motivations. Murdoch's talent for displaying human behavior and its drives is put to wonderful use.

Initially upon reading the book I felt that she had diminished the Uprising by treating it as a comic opera of confusion among the sexes, but later I came to appreciate that Murdoch plays a deep game. Although Irish women at the time were not 'allowed' to be political, they did of course have their opinions. For the most part those opinions are expressed as "war is stupid," e.g., "there is no such thing as dying for Ireland.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Red and the Green (1965) is a historical novel that takes place mostly in the week leading up to the doomed Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916 (made famous by W.B. Yeats' poem "Easter 1916"). While politics certainly has a prominent place in the narrative, Iris Murdoch's primary focus is on the interpersonal relationships of a set of characters, most of whom are related to each other at least distantly (Murdoch provides a rundown of the genealogy early in the book: pay attention).

Different chapters are told from the perspectives of different characters, who include Andrew Chase-White, a 21-year-old British cavalry officer who has yet to see action in the trenches in France, his (assumed) fiancee Frances, her widowed father Christopher Bellman, Andrew's alcoholic uncle Barney, his Irish nationalist cousins Pat and Cathal Dumay and, most interesting of all, his aunt, the nymphomanic and iconoclastic Millie Kinnard.

Murdoch takes quite a bit of time developing the characters before kicking things into motion in the last third of the book, where it all pays off (though one critical scene comes off almost as slapstick comedy). This parallels the political scene as tensions increase as the time of the Uprising grows closer (it actually commenced on Easter Monday, not Sunday). Hidden character motivations and attractions are revealed and (in most cases) acted upon. A brief coda set 22 years later (on the eve of yet another World War) gives a rundown of what happened and also makes one final startling revelation.

The Red and the Green is similar to Murdoch's earlier An Unofficial Rose in having a set of characters who seemingly can only love only someone who doesn't love them back.
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