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). Illusion and reality in the fiction of Iris Murdoch: a study of The Black Prince, The Sea, The Sea and The Good Apprentice. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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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: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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