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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 42 reviews
on August 31, 2009
A pedantic, masochistic, high-minded, fifty-eight-year-old autodidact living in central London in the late-twentieth century with exalted ideas about ethics, eros, suffering and his artistic destiny, falls in love with the twenty-year-old daughter of close friends whose marriage is falling apart. The protagonist loves Hamlet, quotes Plato and Dante, and gets done in by cleverer, more worldly people in his social set who assume that he loves them whereas he, with a sense of superiority, believes they are deluded. With philosophizing, psychologizing, humor, irony, and multiple perspectives conveyed via an introduction, letters and postscripts, this rueful story characterizes in depth several late-twentieth-century English people and their muddles. The delusional power of egotism, three failed marriages, social obligations and nuisances, aging, emotional neediness, unwanted seduction, and smart people working at cross-purposes inform this purgatorial novel.
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on August 11, 2015
The introduction could scare away some timid readers but the book is a joy to read. The characters are surprising and entertaining and there is a lot of "dark" humor in the book. What a pleasure to read something so well written. Reading this book caused me to buy her Booker Prize winner which is one of my next to read.
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on March 20, 2015
It's disgraceful that Amazon is charging money for such a badly edited version. Hyphenated words had en dashes instead of the hyphen, which really breaks up the sentence and ruins the reading experience. Other slip-ups are misspellings and numbers in place of letters; and this happened frequently. Nobody has checked the book for these problems after it was 'read' by a digital device. I enjoyed the book tremendously, but Amazon should be ashamed of themselves.
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on August 2, 2015
Granted, I did not pick this book, but I did blindly and eagerly consent based on the fact that I had heard of Murdoch's work and as a result of my experience with other British/Irish women novelists being so rich and rewarding, assumed I would love it. Oh, folly! Iris Murdoch is a philosopher (and a lover of Sartre, worst offender of all, if you ask me), and I generally make it a rule never to read the novels of philosophers because they know s*** about character development and even less about plot. Now, mind, as a lover of Joyce and Woolf, I can worship and venerate a plotless novel like it's my job (which it kind of is) as long as there is some lyricism and some wordplay. Not so <i> The Black Prince </i>. Now, all the faux editorial prefaces and postscripts would suggest that I am supposed to hate Bradley and feel that the narrative has no centre. But I hated everyone from the vacillating, talentless Baffins to whining homosexual stereotype Francis Marloe. It's 1973: take a Valium, see a therapist. As such, I resented the hell out of this novel: its endless pontificating on art and existentialism, its mangling of Shakespeare and Dante, its endless reliance on Freudian paradigms only to ridicule them ex-post-facto. I don't see how creating a cast of miserable, despondent, self-obsessed people merits a place on the Booker Shortlist. I learned nothing from this book and will never read her again. It could've done with a lot more preface/postscipts and a lot less novel. Bottom line: lame.
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on November 24, 2016
A delightful novel for Murdoch fans. However, this edition appears to be an offset of an offset of an offset, so that the text is swollen to the point that it's difficult to read. I suggest getting a copy of a previous edition, even if it's used.
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on February 21, 2014
There is not one boring page in this book. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a book that's a great narrative, but also has wonderful insights that could be said of anyone or anything. Pay attention to the structure, and read the preface and afterwords (THE BOOK DOES NOT END ON THE LAST PAGE, BUT AFTER THE AFTERWORD)
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on October 31, 2013
It is a great and fun book to read if you are interested in Deconstruction, Post-structuralism, or Post-modernism. Like it!
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on October 21, 2015
Murdoch isn't for everyone, like V. Woolf, you need quiet time. However, Murdoch is a masterful storyteller.
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on February 22, 2015
I'm half-way thru this book, and I'm annoyed and distracted by the sloppy editing (misspellings, especially) and the quirk of hyphenation that turns, for example "absent-minded goings-on". into "absent - minded goings - on". A big deal? No, a petty complaint. But she does a whole lot of such compounding, and they're all this way. (Kindle edition)

Ok, I read it, and I'm dazzled. This is a philosophy text hiding in a love story which becomes a murder story. Then everything you've come to believe about what has happened and why gets overturned (maybe) in the postscripts. Read it. Several times. Then read the introduction again.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 16, 2012
Bradley Pearson (the Black Prince of the title) is an Inspector of Taxes in a dull London office. He is also the failed author of a few novels. Pearson is tall, puritanical and unhappy. Iris Murdoch's 1973 novel is a tour de force in narration as Bradley tells the story of his love for a younger woman. The book is filled with long meditations by the author on truth, lies, love, death and the cruel world in which we human beings live. It also deals with such topics as sex, death, jealousy, envy and murder. This is a book for sophisticated grown up minds which will never be popular with the masses of general readers. It is a novel which takes time and thought to savor, revisit and reread. The chief persons in this modern day tale of love and death are:
Bradley Pearson-The Black Prince who is a failed writer. He is the narrator of the novel sharing with the reader his innermost thoughts, fears, joys and anxieties. He is sexually and emotionally impotent. Only at the novel ends does he achieve a kind of peace.
Arnold Baffin-he is the longtime friend/enemy of Pearson. Baffin has achieved success as a popular author. He is also a ladies man who has had countless affairs; often fights with his wife and is attracted to Pearson's ex-wife Christian.
Christian-She is Bradley's former wife who is beautiful, rich and shallow. She remarried and moved to Illinois. Following the demise of her husband she returns to London. Pearson despises her. She has an affair with Baffin later marrying a fellow worker at Bradley's tax office.
Rachel Baffin is the fat wife of Arnold who has a brief "fling" with Bradley. Bradley will later shield her from the most tragic event in her wretched life.
Julien Baffin is the average 20 something daughter of the Baffins. She has an affair with Bradley. He is many years older than she. She is very emotional, high strung and fickle. She is Bradley's image of a beautiful woman with whom he wishes to spend eternity. His dreamy love for her is pathetic in the illusions he draws around this average young callow person.
Priscilla is the suicidal sister of Bradley Pearson. She is cast aside by her adulterous husband Roger who takes up with a young dentist named Marigold.
Francis Marloe is the gay brother of Christian. He seems to support Bradley through all of his many trials and troubles.
This book is operatic in the major themes it explores. It is filled with musing by the author on deep moral issues which may turn off some readers. It is an erudite intellectual thriller which is filled with horrible revelations and twists of fate.
Iris Murdoch is an acquired taste. She tells her stories by using narration; conflicting points of view by different characters, letters and delving into the minds of her characters. I find her addictive and well worth reading.
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