THE UNICORN by Iris Murdoch


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Suggestions of the supernatural which played a part in one of the earlier Iris Murdoch novels, The Flight from the Enchanter, again appear here and the himera of a more pagan world lend their flickering fascination to a fable of freedom and bondage. Captive here is another sorceress, a lovely, lost princesse intaine in Gaze Castle, Hannah Crean- Smith whose husband has been away for even years, the ritual number. Marian Taylor, thirty-ish, recovering from an unfortunate romance, comes to Gaze as Hannah's companion and joins her retinue of retainers in an aimless but anxious existence: there is her bailiff-keeper, Gerald Scottow; her dour chatelaine and her brother, homosexually involved with Scottow; and nearby, the neutered but admiring Effingham who assists Marian in first, failing attempt to free Hannah. The uncertain attachments within the castle are matched by the lowering landscape without, where the coastal cliffs are lashed by the sea. Finally it is Marian who helps to liberate Hannah- the escape which can only be to another world... Beneath the sommabalistic shadowplay here, this is perhaps an allegory of possession, real and unreal, other-worldly and earthly, and it is an imaginative fantasia. Miss Murdoch is an acquired taste- addictive too.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1963
ISBN: 014002476X
Publisher: Viking