THE GREEN KNIGHT by Iris Murdoch

THE GREEN KNIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 With her customary intellectual verve, Murdoch (The Message to the Planet, 1990, etc.)--that forthright investigator of profound mysteries--transfers the biblical story of Cain and Abel and the medieval Green Knight to a contemporary setting. That setting is suburban London, and because descriptive details are not Murdoch's strength--she thinks rather than looks- -characters and places have a vague timeless feel, which doesn't matter too much because she's a consummate plotter. A heterogeneous group of characters linked by blood and friendship, and all dissatisfied with their lives to varying degrees, are about to be irrevocably changed by two men: one a friend, another a stranger. The group includes popular half-brother Clement; Bellamy, a homosexual contemplating entering a monastery; the widow Louise and her three daughters: beautiful Aleph, scholarly Sefton, and sensitive May; and young Harvey, abandoned by his mother. The first man--the friend--is Lucas Graffe, a renowned but reclusive scholar who disappeared after being acquitted of an accidental murder, but who now as mysteriously reappears. The second man, appearing shortly after Lucas's return, calls himself Peter Mir and is Lucas's assumed murder victim. Like an avenging angel and knight- errant, Mir is an instrument of ``moral justice'' and reveals that he'd actually prevented a murder: the blow that envious Lucas struck was intended for Clement. Mir, who soon becomes the group's avatar, insists on a symbolic reenactment of the murder--the novel's cathartic moment. Finally, justice is done, lives are transformed, and love is free to find its often surprising way. As to be expected from Murdoch: a bracing journey through ancient mysteries and the dark pathways of the heart. And, as always, a stimulating read. (First printing of 35,000)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-670-85229-5
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993




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