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Illusion and reality in the fiction of Iris Murdoch: a study of The Black Prince, The Sea, The Sea and The Good Apprentice

Moden, Rebecca (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis considers how Iris Murdoch radically reconceptualises the possibilities of realism through her interrogation of the relationship between life and art. Her awareness of the unreality of realist conventions leads her to seek new forms of expression, resulting in daring experimentation with form and language, exploration of the relationship between author and character, and foregrounding of the artificiality of the text. She exposes the limitations of language, thereby involving herself with issues associated with the postmodern aesthetic. The Black Prince is an artistic manifesto in which Murdoch repeatedly destroys the illusion of the reality of the text in her attempts to make language communicate truth. Whereas The Black Prince sees Murdoch contemplating Hamlet, The Sea, The Sea meditates on The Tempest, as Murdoch returns to Shakespeare in order to examine the relationship between life and art. In The Good Apprentice, Murdoch continues to interrogate the artist’s paradoxical relationship with power. These novels illustrate the creative tension in Murdoch’s work stemming from the conflict between the realist tradition and her philosophy which has led her beyond it. Murdoch makes her fiction the site of a ceaseless struggle against the self, as she ruthlessly scrutinises her own shortcomings and strips away the illusion-generating ego in a continuous process which never permits the elusive concept of reality to stabilise.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Gasiorek, Andrzej
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of English
Subjects:PN0080 Criticism
PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3382
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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