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Comment: This is a solid unmarked Viking HARDBACK with clean cloth covers and a good dustjacket as shown on Amazon. ALL pages are clean and never underlined, dog-eared, penciled, inked, or marked in any way. Strong binding. The dust jacket has some wear on its back cover and is protected in a clean clear removable mylar sleeve. A nice unmarked copy. Your book will be mailed to you promptly from California, Monday through Saturday, packed in bubble wrap and sent with an e-mail confirmation of the mailing. Larklaugh Signature Books has been an Amazon Pro Merchant Marketplace Bookseller since 2001. Thank you. A/28
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The Unicorn Hardcover – 1964

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Hardcover, 1964
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (1964)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001HAM334
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Enjoyed this read and found the story gripping.
Murdoch portrays good and evil with a mastery that is uncanny and unsettling.
Andrew Schonbek
Unfortunately, it sounds much better than it reads.
Jay Dickson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Alan Brown on November 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read a few of Iris Murdoch's early novels - Under the Net, Sandcastle, the Italian Girl, A Severed Head. The Unicorn was written after these, but still about the middle of Murdoch's oeuvre. As always, the characters are deliciously self-concious and enigmatic. The secrets of their pasts that underly their motivation are initially obscured and gradually revealed over the course of the novel. What makes the Unicorn different is the psychological depth at which the characters revealed. The Unicorn's characters are like the proverbial onion, and Murdoch, like a masochistic cook, peels the layers slowly.
The novel opens with the youthful and urbane Marian taking a post as a governace, with a altogether strange family in an entirely isolated coastal English community. She soon discovers that there aren't any children to look after, but that she is intended as a 'lady-companion' for Hannah, the mistress and virtual prisoner of the house. Marian slowly unravels the complicated web of relationships that bind the inhabitants of her strange new home together, in the process hatching a brave, if foolhardy, plot to rescue Hannah from self-imposed captivity.
To sum up, if you've never read any of her work, this may be a good place to dive into the novels of Iris Murdoch. It is a work that appeals both to fans of suspense, horror, and just good literature. Cheers
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Miguel on July 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Both a gothic horror story and a heartbreaking character study, "The Unicorn" is quite possibly one of the best novels published in the english language in the latter part of the century.
With an angst-inducing atmosphere, the tale of Marian Taylor, restless, young and naïve, and the tormented Hannah (in a way, the Unicorn of the title)both exiled in a decrepit manse in rural England, close to the sea, but nowhere else, is a pilgrimage of the soul in search of freedom from the burden of [alleged] sin. But it seems, this cannot be.
Also, this book offers wisdom in many forms, including a quote that may very well make its way to the core of modern philosophy, as said by Marian: "Art and psychoanalysis give shape and meaning to life and that is why we adore them, yet life as it is lived has no shape nor meaning, and that is what i am experiencing just now."
Definitely a novel to be read many times and to be kept at hand for a long time to come.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Pruitt Thomas on June 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Unicorn reads easily, with a plot that the average reader can outline and follow: a young woman is hired as a governess to a remote, mysterious household on the English coastline -- Murdoch did have an enormous fascination with the ocean and the coast -- only to discover that there are no children to teach, but rather she has been secured to keep a young married woman, Hannah, company.

As the story progresses it is clear that Hannah is an extraordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. There are all the elements of a satisfying mystery novel -- deep dark secrets, rain and thunder, nighttime walks through the bog, odd personalities, spooky happenings.

But of course, it's a Murdoch novel, and that means a hefty undercurrent of psychological analysis, the fallibility of humans, the disastrous prognosis of sin, accidents of fate, and all the convoluted personality quirks Murdoch loved to inflict upon her characters. She gives the reader a full course meal of philosophical, theological and psychological food for thought all the while maintaining an entertaining story line and engaging characters.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. B Collins Jr. on September 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Iris Murdoch is very clever. She takes the format of the traditional gothic mystery novel, full of romantic fools and dark sinisister characters and weaves a tale that is as rich as a Renaissance tapestry with hidden spiders.

First, I would like to comment on the style of writing exemplified in this book. Ms. Murdoch is not of the school of minimal writing in which intentions and thoughts are discerned from actions and detail, which is the forte of Ernest Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy. Rather, she spends enormous amounts of the book exploring the inner thoughts and emotions of the characters, in particular the thoughts, impressions, and emotions of the young governess, Marian Taylor, and the civil servant, Effingham Cooper. However the book is not entirely devoted to in-depth psychological analysis of the characters. There are very fine passages where Ms. Murdoch describes the ever changing sea and cliffs and landscape in which the human characters interact. The sea is described with every color possible, from golden fire, to silvery smoky blue-grey, to purples and azure. Where sea meets shore she once describes as the swirl of black ink in cream. The finest writing in the novel is the chapter where Effingham Cooper walks into the bog and soon finds himself sinking slowly into the goo with an inability to pull his legs free from the mucky suction.

Ms. Murdoch has also constructed a geometric, classically proportioned plot, reminding me of the carefully constructed relationship structures of the works of Thomas Hardy. There are two grand houses in the remote countryside, that are within sight of each other.
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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.

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