Iris Murdoch

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“Literature is meant to be grasped by enjoyment”. Iris Murdoch

The Atlantic Arc lives its culture through authors like Iris Murdoch, whose 94th anniversary (if she lived) we celebrate today. Born in Ireland, Dame Murdoch lived in several Atlantic Cities, like Dublin or Bristol with frequent visits to France.

Novelist and philosopher, she was famed for her series of novels that combine rich characterization and compelling plotlines usually involving ethical or sexual themes. Her life-story was filmed in 2001 as Iris. Prolific, she won a Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea in 1978. Under the Net, Murdoch’s first published novel of 1954, brought her instant recognition as a major new voice in English fiction. By the time of her 26th and last novel, Jackson’s Dilemma, was published in 1996, she had become the Grande Dame of English Letters as well as a Dame of the British Empire, steadily accruing honours as well as critical acclaim over a career that lasted over 40 years. Her influence on both moral philosophy and on the novel continues into the 21st century.

During her career as a philosopher, Murdoch was invited to give many prestigious lectures, including the Ballard Mathews Lecture in 1962 (‘The Idea of Perfection’), the Leslie Stephen Lecture in 1967 (‘The Sovereignty of Good Over Other Concepts’), the Romanes Lecture in 1976 (‘The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists’), and the Gifford Lectures in 1982 (which formed the basis for Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, 1992). Conferences and symposia on her literary and philosophical work, which she often attended, were held in France, Holland, and other countries.

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