THE ITALIAN GIRL by Iris Murdoch


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Perhaps no writer in England today, except I. Compton-Burnett, has as unmistakable and stylized a signature as Iris Murdoch, although her novels have a greater range. This, less of a fantasia than The Unicorn or The Flight from the Enchanter, belongs rather with The Unofficial Rose and The Severed Head and is another inbred story of modern life. Edmund Narraway, an unworldly, reclusive man of forty odd, returns to his family at his predatory mother's death. It consists of his brother Otto, Otto's wife Isabel, and their only daughter, Flora. Then too there is the Italian girl, Maggie, last of a series of nursery maids, and a young Russian pair, Elsa Levkin and her brother David. In a series of confidences to Edmund (Edmund The Confessor), all the internecine interrelationships are revealed: Isabel's love for David, shared by her daughter; Otto's monstrously physical indulgences with Elsa who has ""a sort of death in hor"" and does die; and on and on until Edmund becomes part of their world, the world.... Once again a ritual of innocence and corruption, of a kind of physical enslavement as perceived only through the intellect, is accomplished with many dark fancies, sudden surprises and arcane implications. These are all a part of Iris Murdoch's fascination on the one hand, eclecticism on the other.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1964
Publisher: Viking