Read The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch Online


Full of suspense, humor, and symbolism, this magnificently crafted and magical novel replays biblical and medieval themes in contemporary London. An attempt by the sharp, feral, and uncommonly intelligent Lucas Graffe to murder his sensual and charismatic half-brother Clement is interrupted by a stranger—whom Lucas strikes and leaves for dead. When the stranger mysteriouslFull of suspense, humor, and symbolism, this magnificently crafted and magical novel replays biblical and medieval themes in contemporary London. An attempt by the sharp, feral, and uncommonly intelligent Lucas Graffe to murder his sensual and charismatic half-brother Clement is interrupted by a stranger—whom Lucas strikes and leaves for dead. When the stranger mysteriously reappears, with specific demands for reparation, the Graffes’ circle of idiosyncratic family and friends is disrupted—for the demands are bizarre, intrusive, and ultimately fatal....

Title : The Green Knight
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140243376
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 480 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Green Knight Reviews

  • Jon
    2019-05-20 16:27

    An unforgettable book by a brilliant author. But how to describe it? I can't do better than begin with this from another Goodreads reviewer: "Clement is in love with Louise. Louise's husband is dead. Everyone thinks Moy is in love with Clement, but she is in love with Harvey. Harvey thinks he's in love with one sister, but he's actually in love with another sister. One sister is in love with Lucas. Lucas is Clement's brother. Lucas tried to kill Clement. But he actually killed Peter Mir. Only, Peter Mir isn't dead! Peter Mir is our beloved Green Knight, beheaded but still among the living. Who is Sir Gawain? Was there ever really a Gawain?" This book has all the trappings and "feel" of a medieval visit to faerie-land, but is set in something resembling 1990's London, where a private house ("Clifton") stands in for an enchanted castle. Three princesses live there (very Greekly named Alethea, Sophia, and Moira, but who hate their names and so call themselves Aleph, Sefton, and Moy). Visitors come and go, falling under each other's spells. A preternaturally wise dog is named Anax, the Greek word used in the Iliad to describe Agamemenon. Each sister is eccentric in her own way, as is every other character in the book. Magic, fate, and other-worldly significance are everywhere, all easily discountable by the literal-minded reader as mild insanity, coincidence, and over-thinking. The novel is loosely based on the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but with touches of Cain and Abel, much classical mythology (there is even an attack on a young virgin by a swan), and the Holy Spirit (or at least an angelic presence) often seems to be hovering nearby. There is a happy conclusion reminiscent of a Shakespearian comedy, where no character, however minor, is safe from matrimony. It got a little repetitious for my taste, as characters had multiple struggles to understand each other's motivations; but nevertheless an unforgettable experience. When disaster seems to strike (as it does several times in the course of the book) you feel that something fully solid and real in in danger of toppling into ruin. An amazing read.

  • Sarah Beaudoin
    2019-05-09 22:31

    I always experience a mix of emotion when I reread a beloved book. Excitement that I'm going to spend hours with something I've proven to love but at the same time trepidation that for some reason, the story will fail to captivate me as much as previously. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find that, upon rereading, I find I love the book even more than I did originally. Such is the case with The Green Knight. The Green Knight traces the lives of a group of people loosely arranged as a family more so because of their proximity than blood. They live comfortably with little drama until a startling incident drops a man they all thought was dead into their lives. This action kicks off a series of events that forces each of them to re-examine their relationships with each other, as well as grapple with the realizations that people are not always who they say they are and that not every one is intrinsically good.Murdoch's characters are always odd in some sense or another. When reading any of her novels, I find myself repeatedly thinking, "But no one would ever do that," yet her characters always do. However, because Murdoch imbues her writing with so much philosophy and theology, the unexpected actions of her characters always seem justified. So instead of thinking that early 20-something Harvey would never attempt seduction with middle aged Tessa, it becomes reasonable in light of Oedipus. The result is that Murdoch's books are *interesting* in a way that many are not - the plots can be ridiculous and the characters eccentric but the writing is so intelligent that it all makes sense.The Green Knight is one of Murdoch's most accessible novels, and is a good place to start if you haven't read her before.

  • Leah
    2019-05-19 20:20

    3.5 starsNot sure where to start with this one. Here's what I liked: some of the characters, especially the Cliftonians Aleph, Sefton, and Moy; I loved their old-fashioned nature. I enjoyed the focus on a group of people rather than on any one particular person. I liked the "main" drama regarding Peter Mir and Lucas. In short, I didn't find it hard to be interested in these people and their lives. I found that the book was less about what happened than how the characters experienced it--the inner turmoil humans feel regarding things like loss of innocence, guilt, disappointment, depression, love, and spirituality. This is the first Murdoch I've read, but it seems that her other work is similarly focused. However, I also had some serious issues with this story, not least of which is the time period. Various references place this book somewhere in the 1980s. But much of the dialogue, mannerisms, dress, and even modes of communication are indicative of a much earlier time--I was envisioning somewhere perhaps in the 30s-40s. If you want to have old-fashioned characters, fine. But there must be an awareness of the fact that they are old-fashioned, and that was lacking here. Furthermore, this may have been more excusable had the setting been a remote village somewhere in the countryside where change comes slowly, but we are led to believe that this is taking place in London, of all places.Second thing--it bothered me right off the bat that within this familial group of people, the children (albeit mostly grown) seem to be such good pals with their parents' friends, even considering the fact that they are more like aunts and uncles than mere acquaintances. The children are more or less seen as peers--and marriageable peers at that. It was just very strange, and once again, would have been a bit more acceptable in an earlier time period and in a more rural area... but certainly not in London in the 80s.(Spoilers ahead, so stop here if you need to)Finally, there was an awful lot of interesting drama that just sort of fizzled out by the end, and all of a sudden the book was about people marrying who they'd been in love with all along (or realizing that, you know what, it's all okay after all). Which is sort of nice, but left so much to be desired. I wanted to know more about Peter Mir. I wanted to know who the woman sobbing hysterically in Tessa's bathroom was (maybe I missed something, but seriously what was that about?). I wanted to know if Clement ever tells Louise that yes, Lucas was actually trying to kill him, because by the end she's still a bit hazy on this point. All the same, I think I'd like to read more Murdoch, as I did enjoy her style and the various influences and symbolism present (i.e. philosophy, literature, history), and I even liked the sort of supernatural elements, but maybe some of her earlier work, since her writing seems to be stuck in the past anyway.

  • Velvetink
    2019-04-26 16:09

    Throughly caught up in the dramas of Lucus and Clement and their brush with murder, also Bellamy's wish to become a monk. Enjoy Iris's way with words. So far so good. Finished. Iris weaves a good story, was unable to stop reading. One flaw though, one of the characters dies suddenly and I suspect that Iris just killed him off to finish the story as no other character actually questions why he died or how he died. And so while the other characters have resolutions to their problems the catalyst (the character that dies) is just forgotten.

  • Cynthia
    2019-05-10 18:27

    A much paler novel than Murdoch can be at her best (as in The sea, the sea). The characters seemed to be inhabiting some earlier decade and I'm ultimately as confused as the character Clement as to how far the comparisons go to the resetting of the legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. The mysterious Peter Mirs manages to be an entrancing character and Anax the collie was heart-stealing in a non-Lassie way. Read it for the dog isn't a great recommendation, though.

  • Helen McClory
    2019-05-23 23:16

    A difficult book to settle on. One that has flashes of brilliance (it is by Iris Murdoch, after all) but becomes mired at points in unbelievable dialogue (everyone with that same upperclass English eloquence) and small dilemmas much considered - which didn't have to be an issue, except that the book could have been heavily cut down to the benefit of the power of what was happening, I think. I can't help but feel the shadow of the author's Alzheimer's, possibly incipient at the time of her writing, leading to some of the issues. Still, there's a lot here that is good and worthwhile and engaging.

  • ItaloPerazzoli
    2019-05-24 23:01

    The Green Knight is the 25th novel written by the prolific Iris Murdoch, the purpose of this novel is reasoning about the connection between art and morality a first example lies at page 9:"A picture of Remembrant: Oh yes. I always found that picture a bit soppy. isn't he supposed to be a woman? And anyway now they say it isn't by Remembrandt. But seriously, are they in love?Looking at this painting we can say that the art is immoral because we are considering the knight as a woman and not as man.With this example I tried to explain or better to give a personal definition of morality which is influenced by the society, if so, it will be positive or negative, for the future generations? and in this context which rule has our ego?"When I die, what goes away? nothing. As we grow older the body devours the soul. But it may also be that the soul, shocked into awareness, is able to chasten the body"If so we aren't able to reinvent a system of ethics for the simple fact that we chose a personal God and we are preoccupied by ourselves only.Recently on my essay on Charles Arrowby (The Sea, The Sea) I wrote that we are not completely free on our decision because our behavior are heavily influenced by our ego. So at this point I am thinking to the Socratic quest: "What is a good man like?" are we able to rewrite the concept of morality once we are freed from our ego?

  • Melita
    2019-04-26 16:22

    I picked up this book because of the title's allusion to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and I haven't read anything by Murdoch before. I set out with high expectations as I commenced reading, but this has been a torturous read. I love descriptive writing, but Murdoch goes overboard in describing every minutiae there is, and the semi-stream of consciousness description of the characters' thoughts after awhile annoyed me. How many times am I to read a character's overly melodramatic mental musings and angst?? Then the overly sentimentalized verbal effusions of the characters, which most have melancholia! My second favorite had to be Lucas. He was a self-absorbed cynic but he was not as puke-inducing as his self-pitying brother Clement or Bellamy or Harvey or Louise. However, there is something to be gained by reading this novel, themes and symbolism abound, but it is Moy's character that captivated me.Excerpt from NYTimes by Linda Simon, "Ms. Murdoch is an admirable artist. Reading her work is like watching an expert needlewoman embroider, with fine silk thread and a dazzling array of stitches, a large, intricate, multicolored piece of fancywork. But as the design becomes more complicated and the patterns more repetitious, one senses that the embroiderer may realize more pleasure than the viewer."

  • Lucy
    2019-05-27 19:12

    Iris Murdoch writes about a London in which young people in the 1990s wear vests, woolly tights and pyjamas, sing madrigals, exclaim, "Good Heavens!" and "Oh Lord!", and don't watch TV. It's very strange, but endearing - her London is the London we all know, same river, same places, same landmarks, but an oddly different zeitgeist - like a parallel universe version of London.If you can suspend astonishment and accept this, then you're in for another cracking good read - a plot that's too good to give away, here, and masterly narrative that never loses it's vibrancy or momentum, never mind that it's her penultimate novel and there are allegedly hints of the effects of dementia detectable within it. It's simply brilliant!

  • Tim
    2019-05-16 23:12

    I have read around in the Green Knight. It is one of those books I began not to trust and so went to the ending and read backwards. The large array of characters are fascinating, but also unreal in their actions and attitudes. The philosophical talk is charming and thoughtful, but because the author provides detailed descriptions of the characters without allowing examination of those characters in conflict, I developed little of the attachment to them that I would have had I seen their personalities worked out in particular situations. As I stopped caring about the characters the artificial plot annoyed me greatly.

  • Katie
    2019-05-06 23:09

    The only Murdoch I've read so far is this novel and "The Unicorn," but her stories, though vaguely set in the "present" day, operate on a seemingly timeless plane. I read a few comments questioning the realism of the dialogue, especially that between the young adult characters of this novel--certainly a valid observation--but I think that the titles of her novels serve to place the book in some semi-mythical place that requires a certain suspension of disbelief. The philosophical themes and mythical allusions she touches upon (and there are many) are both basic and (as hackneyed as it is to say) eternal. Not for everyone, but definitely for me.

  • Jane
    2019-05-23 15:31

    The action seems to turn around an attempted murder of a half-brother by his jealous sibling, and the return to life of the actual victim, a man who attempted to intervene but received a nearly fatal blow to the head. But a very interesting part of the story is how this is variously seen through the eyes of three precocious sisters - each extraordinary in her own way. These girls/young women are somewhat anxiously approaching the end of their lively but sheltered girlhood. They've been happy, and as a result are more open than usual in their judgements, and vivid in their motivations.

  • Dana
    2019-05-14 16:02

    One of my favorites that I re-read every few years. The setting is contemporary but doesn't feel 'real'. Many complain that the dialogue and characters don't seem realistic but they aren't meant to. This isn't realist literature. May as well complain that Monet's 'Water Lilies' are all blurry. As well the plot centres around a 'murder mystery' but most of the book is not directly focused on this plot, much more is on character and inward meaning.

  • Dariosk
    2019-05-25 21:28

    The book starts with two ladies chatting about people that don't seem to matter much. Regrettably, that's enough to turn me off... If it starts like that what are the chances of it getting better?

  • Stephen Brody
    2019-05-26 17:01

    “Come, there are disagreements which divide even the gods.”“Men will love a monster if he has bella figura.”“The study of history is menaced by fragmentation…. Such fragmentations opens a space for false prophets, old and new. Not only the shades of Hegel and Marx and Heidegger, but also those, you know who I mean, who would degrade history into what they call fabulation….Above all be aware of a relaxed determinism which haunts our increasingly scientific and technological civilization …. Another piece of advice. Do not marry. Marriage ends truthfulness in a life. Solitude is necessary if real thinking is to take place.” * * * * *There’s a passage at the beginning of this novel, Iris Murdoch’s twenty-sixth and penultimate and when she thought she was “beginning to lose my grip”, which helps to clear up a certain ambiguity I’ve always had about her. Three girls, sisters, preternaturally clever and with literary and artistic tastes now on the verge of womanhood after a happy and contented childhood, talk between themselves: “As for this stuff about being innocent and harmless and pure in heart, we are really just lucky and sheltered and naïve. We are awfully nice to people, but we don’t go out into the violence and the chaos ….” In one of her letters the authoress says this about herself: “I lived in a universe of perfect harmony until I was thirteen and went to boarding school and found out that the world was not composed purely of love but it was too late by then.” Murdoch claimed to have kept herself and those she knew well out of her stories, but of course that cannot be. Her vision of an ideal but still imperfect world reflects her own fairly ideal one, into which really beastly wickedness and commonplace sordidness does not enter, kept deliberately and not ineffectively at bay by something like a safely-staged, sinister-sounding but not really very threatening presentation of wickedness in which anyway no judgement is ever conclusively stated. That very subtle technique accounts, I think, for why some people like her so much while others would express a more open contempt if they dared. We’ve had the Dark Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, the Age of Revolution, the Age of Elegance and if Edith Sitwell is to be believed, the Age of Satire. Now we’ve descended into the Age of Spite, into which Iris Murdoch does not fit and the confusion, if that’s what it was, could as well be seen as an awareness that her time was passed. The Green Knight contains amongst others the usual collection of conscientious fussers, titillating themselves over their own moral lapses and aspirations. One of them, for want of anything better to do, has decided he wants to be a monk and receives this piece of discouragingly-sensible advice from a real monk, deftly inserted into the story, in a letter: “An excessive cultivation of guilt may become a neurotic, even erotic, indulgence. You should not imagine yourself to be in an ‘interesting spiritual condition!’ What is needed is a cool, even cold, truthfulness” (advice that goes unheeded, needless to say, the hopeful acolyte persists in his fascination with a vocation mostly involving dreams of a khaki-clad Jesus and a stern but highly attractive militaristic archangel with a blatantly-phallic sword). An antidote to all this evasive mucking about is supplied by Joan Blacket, who leads a more rackety existence in some mysterious capacity and whose preoccupations, no less intense, revolve around more practical matters such as how to get another man, preferably a rich one, whether her eighteen-year-old son may or may not be ‘gay’, and if so, how that may best advance or hinder any schemes of her own. Along with Tessa Millen, a liberated feminist, “Adolph Hitler in knickers”, Joan, not liberated at all, has all the best lines: “Si ça ne vous incommode pas je vais garder mes bas, sexiest thing Sartre ever said”. No loss of grip there, and not all that innocent either! On the whole and hardly unreasonably, the authoress is sharper with her own sex than with the other, who always lack a very positive virility, though she makes splendid entertainment of both.But tittle-tattle soon gives way to a much more dramatic revelation. Professor Lucas Graffe, a man known to all the others but kept at a distance on account of a completely unconsolidated reputation for intellectual superiority except for some rather sardonic speeches, is the subject of much unnecessary sympathy and concern because he’s had to face a ‘humiliating’ court inquiry after killing someone, in self-defence his lawyer successfully claimed. In fact, he was attempting to murder his own brother with a blunt club and someone accidently got in the way. Acquitted, he’s quite unashamed of admitting this to the lucky brother, a sort of would-be actor relying on fading charm, and when asked why, says matter-of-factly: “Why did Cain kill Abel. Why did Romulus kill Remus? I have always wanted to kill you, ever since the moment when I learned of your existence. Do not let us waste time on that.” Cue for some more subtle philosophical musings, neatly avoiding the traps of facile psychoanalysis, but nothing as to what is come. The supposedly accidentally dead victim resurrects and confronts both brothers, one by now a quivering wreck (it’s all his fault!) and the other somewhat at a loss for words for once. They all shake hands, but the question of retribution lours heavily and increasingly ominously in the air. In a subsequent ingeniously managed exchange between the muddled would-be monk and the unexpectedly-intelligent ‘victim’: “He may be an evil man and a murderer, but there may have been a streak of nobility, I thought he might not be willing to lie. However, he chose to leave the lying to his brother. I am disappointed in him. I am disappointed in the brother too, but that doesn’t matter, he is a weak silly man. The Professor may be, as you said, brave. We shall see.”“I don’t understand…”“I was giving him a challenge, more precisely a chance. He refused it. His refusal leaves me no alternative, it precipitates another less amusing phase in our relationship.”“What do you mean, what do you want?”“If I may emulate the ruthless frankness of the Professor, I want his death.”I’ll resist the temptation to continue with the exciting ins and outs for the next three hundred or so pages, which are summarised elsewhere, except for one short but very powerful and affective episode. A dog, replaced by his owner in a fit of senseless masochism in a good but alien other home, escapes and runs half-way across London trying to find his former faithless master, so beautifully described that it brings tears to even hardened eyes as the anguished tantrums of the human characters do not. It is, indeed, a perfect illustration of what Murdoch upheld as true love, the attentive concentration of thought on someone or something outside oneself and mostly only ever achieved when we say we “love” a painting or a place or something we read or whatever – “how lovely” – because there cannot be any reciprocal response to flatter the lover’s self-esteem. The poor dog can think as he exhausts himself, he knows what he’s looking for, but he has no sense of himself and expects no reward other than to be re-united as Plato’s analogy depicts severed creatures forever in search of the other half in order to be complete. We’re mercifully spared more than temporary distress here, all has a happy ending.Murdoch’s extraordinary quality, eschewing ‘real-life’ portraiture while representing it as if it were and thus inventing human vehicles for the enactment of abstract perplexities that concern the universal human condition – a series of more or less haphazard individually-unique ‘contingencies’ over which the players have far less control than they suppose – is to make metaphysics as readable as scintillating satire or a detective thriller and defying Manichean classification as no-one else has ever done. Either because of the ‘grip’ or something else, this late book to be honest is inclined to be over-blown, almost a little silly in some places, “it’s like living in a slow motion mental home” as one of the characters describes it - or anyway it is on superficial reading. They all have abominable taste (“Harvey had put on his second-best suit of dark brown tweed with a blue-striped shirt and a red and green tie; Clement and Louise were wearing, respectively, Louise a pale blue velvet dress with a lace collar, and Clement a light golden brown suit with a dark red shirt and a light red bow tie”), and in spite of eternal friendships and caring deeply none of them really has a clue about each other (“Who is he when he’s not with me, who does he go to bed with?”). Finally and inevitably and in spite of the above cited warning, they all get married to more or less anyone at hand in the expectation of entering a door to eternal bliss, though here the authoress does interject on her own account: “The word ‘happiness’ was often used, although since they were all in their own ways sober and reflective people (exclamation mark mine!) each wondered for a moment or two what it was and how they were destined to achieve it. At least one for a second thought, ‘Am I mad?’” Only three people are not mad. Cora, a minor character and an onlooker, reflects “better not to think about happiness at all, cheerfulness will do”. Kenneth Rathbone, an unlikely Australian publican and the repository of what might have been too significant a secret to be disclosed to the others or even to the reader, declares “I’m going back to dear old Oz where the sky is where it ought to be, way up far above in heaven, not sitting on top of your head the way it is here”. The third of course is Iris Murdoch herself. I’d like to think that what’s she’s really providing here is a fictional demonstration in practice of one of her recurrent themes, the mischievous power of the ragged urchin and demi-god Eros whose function it is to introduce divine disorder into the already muddled affairs of mortals.* * * * *“He had composed these ridiculous speeches, and even uttered them, with some sort of genuine passion while imagining that people might actually start to giggle.”

  • Mark Lemmon
    2019-05-24 18:22

    An observation: In editing a movie, we try to eliminate as much unnecessary action as possible .... action such as a character walking up a long sidewalk and entering a house ... never mind all that ... cut to character as they come IN through the front door ... "shoe leather", it is referred to as ... Murdoch's book contains a lot of "shoe leather' ... and, surprisingly Murdock makes it work. This makes an motion picture editor ponder if that isn't something that might re-considered in editing a movie ... especially after watching Blade Runner 2049 which also has plenty of "shoe leather" that seems to work ...

  • Lauren
    2019-04-30 19:04

    (Dug review out of the depths of LiveJournal.)When I was about ten pages from the end, [person] asked me if I was any good. I said I hadn't decided yet. I still haven't decided. It was strange and the ending was too convenient for everyone. I think maybe I should just read Under the Net again and then leave Ms Murdoch alone.

  • Dan Honeywell
    2019-05-18 16:14

    4 1/2 stars for being strange, unpredictable, moving, charming, and deep, all while bringing a full cast of eccentric characters to life.

  • Christine
    2019-05-20 19:21

    I'd never read anything by Iris Murdoch. Probably not her most representative work, as it was near the end of her career.

  • Frank
    2019-05-01 20:18

    Murdoch brings together a wide net of characters who are as enjoyable as they are irritating and often enough enjoyable because they are irritating. She weaves this cast around the pliable structure of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight story. But this book does not only draw from the Arthurian tale, but from paintings and other sources of art, using ekphrasis as a mode of story telling. The use of art in the story is not without examination. For instance, one scene recreates the Leda and the Swan myth by having a character get attacked by a swan. Later, Peter Muir, the source of much tension in the novel, fascinated by the story, casually notes the similarity of her attack to the myth. While I haven't quite pinned down Murdoch's choices for bringing a dialogue of art into the story, her use of ekphrasis seems like a worthy point of scrutiny. While I'm still sorting out the ekphrastic dialogue, I do think that much of the story telling invites thinking about the narrative in terms of art, myth, and artifact--much of Bellamy's character is revealed through epistolary passages written to a monk. Reading these, I remember thinking-- if only Bellamy would read his own letters, he would understand his issues and frustrations better and stop making such misguided choices. Further, the reader is often as much at the whim of the characters' hasty conclusions, gossip, and the assumptions and fears running through their brains as they themselves are. While character's thoughts, fears, and imaginings are not exactly examples of art they do draw parallels to it by creating waves and narratives the way art does in this story: creating both elaborate fantasies and truths. It is also interesting to note that the characters most closely related to art, whether they draw our attention to it or are artists, are also the closest to the magical elements of the story.

  • Christopherch
    2019-05-13 18:20

    Iris Murdoch’s last grand curtain call.Everyone gets a nod, Wittgenstein, Ekhart, Beowulf, Hamlet, Goethe in a novel set against her London backdrop - we even get the Sea! Her intellectual recall is astounding, with mature themes explored alongside a giddy mix of eccentric characters and a plot that crackles.The shear brilliance of this novel makes her fall into the fog of Alzheimer’s so shortly after its completion all the more tragic. IM was at the stellar height of her considerable imaginative, creative powers when this was written.She saw now, in a sudden glimpse of the scene that the creature which the swan was trying to drown was not a dog, but a small black duck, in that instant the duck became free, it leapt away, spread its wings and rose from the water uttering a strange cry of terror, and few away into the mist. Then as Moy steadied herself, the swan was upon her, she saw the great wings, unfolded and in the surface water the big black webbed feet trailing like claws, as the swan fell upon her, pressing her down with its descending weight as it had pressed down the little struggling duck.Moy lost her balance and slipped backward seeing the heavy curving breast above her, the snake-neck like a rope of greying fur and for an instant, as if in a dream, eyes glaring in a mad face. As she felt the terrible weight upon her she tried to free a hand from the rising water to hold it away trying to move her clogged feet and attempting to scream. The next moment it was over, the swan passed from her, beating the water violently with a loud sound with its wings, rushing away over the surface of the river, then rising into the silence of the gathering mist.

  • Mitch
    2019-05-10 18:12

    This was a difficult book to soldier through. It sure was literary, though!It was interesting, but ultimately too bizarre for me to enjoy. There were unusual takes on the Cain and Abel story, the Transfiguration, the death and resurrection of Jesus, etc....but so twisted and/or incomplete as to render this story just...odd.I do think her writing could be improved by some serious editing out of extraneous (it didn't move the story along at all) daily detail. Example: Iris gives us the exact seating order for dinner, then revises it as the characters decide it's not to their liking. Some of this type of thing felt like she was moving her characters around on a stage and that took me out of the story.Additionally, one character had telekinetic power (why?) and another had a screaming woman in the back room (again, why?)- so that was....was what? I don't really know.After the Jesus character dies, rises, and dies again (?) all the remaining characters seem to marry themselves to each other to resolve their grief. That may have made sense to Iris, but it lost me.If this review is to match the book, I need to mention that I am hitting my keyboard with chapped fingers from yesterday's excursion to the beach, which left me feeling lonely and drained by the intensity of the sun on the baking beach while a colorful plastic ball bounced along and ultimately punctured itself. Perhaps it was a sign? Now, who do I marry to bury my grief and fulfill my empty days?

  • Daryl
    2019-05-01 21:24

    I'm still not sure what to make of this book. Given the title and the source of the recommendation (to me), I was expecting something of an out-and-out fantasy novel. Nothing doing. This novel tells the story of a couple of families and groups of friends, apparently in modern day England. I say apparently, because although they have cars and cell phones, the dialogue, descriptions, and the things people choose to talk about read like a Victorian novel. The book held my interest -- some characters were far more intriguing than others -- overall, but kind of went in and out of focus. The main story (if it can be judged that) involves an outsider to the group (they very clearly compare him to the Green Knight of Sir Gawain fame several times), and his interaction, influence, and eventual effect on the group(s). However, this character doesn't appear until well into the book, and is gone long before the novel wraps up. In fact, the ending of the novel, while clearly written, doesn't really seem to pertain to much that's gone before in the previous 450 pages. An odd book. I'm not sorry I read it, by any means, but I'm not sure how much it'll stick with me.

  • Jann
    2019-05-27 16:06

    To some extent this book perplexed me. My motivation for reading it was because it was by Iris Murdoch and I was curious about her work. I read inside the front cover that besides having been at Oxford and later Cambridge and later having taught philosophy for many years, she was an author of many books from different genres. The early pages caught my interest quickly although I didn't really understand what was going on so I decided to plow on. By the time I thought I understood, the mood changed and some darkness was introduced. In spite of my mixed feelings, each time I picked it up to read I became interested enough that I frequently read past the time I had planned to turn out the light and go to sleep. This feeling of bemusement carried on even though I couldn't put it down until finally I had reached the final page.Looking back on my reading adventure I still don't truly know how I feel about the book and yet each evening's experience with it makes this untrue. I must have liked it, right? Now I am going to find out what other readers have said about it and see if there are any 'readers guide' type articles on it. (perhaps I need to have it explained to me)

  • Salvatore
    2019-05-11 19:09

    At first I asked this novel, Who is the Green Knight, the character who will be an equivalent of the Sir Gawain story?I then asked the novel, Even if we have a stand in for Gawain's Green Knight, which is debatable, does that mean that there needs to be a 1-1 correlation between characters in the medieval story to characters in the Murdoch novel?Then the novel seemed to ask me, If I blatantly refer to the Gawain/Green Knight tale, does that belittle any comparisons you'd like to make between these stories?The narrative is standard Murdoch fare - a wide collection of upper middle class English people who have their lives upturned when someone enters their world, who helps them reveal their truer - which doesn't always mean better - selves. What makes this stand apart from other Murdoch novels is the otherworldliness of it - that the Green Knight character seems to have come back to life and evade all expectation of realism and characterization. I like how that forced questions of the power and need for allusions in storytelling, how they can be an unhelpful crutch (or a green girdle - depending on which narrative you're talking about).

  • Ali
    2019-05-03 18:16

    I quite enjoyed this one-although my exhausted state of mind meant I should have waited to read it when I was more relaxed and better able to concentrate, it was too heavy for my tired brain. Therefore it took me a while to get into it. I actually found after the first 70 or 80 pages - the story really got going. The middle part of the novel is fast paced and really hard to put down. However the novel may be a bit over long.The story concerns a group of people, connected to Lucas Graffe, and an act of violence that results in a desire for revenge. There is Clemment, Lucas's brother, who loves him - and has been worried about him following his brief disappearence - their friend Bellemy James considering a monastic life. Then there is Louise Anderson, and her three daughters at Clifton house, outside of which a man had been seen watching. The Green Knight is a suspensful novel about - among other things - guilt and innocence. Oh and there is a marvelous dog called Anax - my favourite character

  • Lo
    2019-05-08 19:03

    I couldn't even get half-way through this book. The story, backstory, side-stories just plod along. It's almost like literally you're a god watching over ever minute detail of these lives. When it started on the dogs' point of view I was done. This book is too full of itself. And I have an English degree!

  • Tara
    2019-05-10 15:21

    Clement is in love with Louise. Louise's husband is dead. Everyone thinks Moy is in love with Clement, but she is in love with Harvey. Harvey thinks he's in love with one sister, but he's actually in love with another sister. One sister is in love with Lucas. Lucas is Clement's brother. Lucas tried to kill Clement. But he actually killed Peter Mir. Only, Peter Mir isn't dead! Peter Mir is our beloved Green Knight, beheaded but still among the living. Who is Sir Gawain? Was there ever really a Gawain?It sounds like tosh or a mass-market paperback mess, but it's Iris Murdoch, and the absurd tangle of human emotions is her means of probing our deepest motivations, ideals, sins, relationships, and loves. She was, to me, a first-rate philosopher, the kind who doesn't sit in ivory tower made of abstractions, but walks and pays attention to the world and makes philosophy not only coherent, but relevant. On top of all that it's London in late-autumn with all sorts of peculiar characters sitting in cold rooms with fluttering fires. I adore it.

  • Debbie Combs
    2019-05-18 18:26

    My first Iris Murdoch read. Although it is set in present day London it reads like a turn of the century English novel. The characters are all quite strange as is the plot. It was interesting but it doesn't inspire me to read more by Murdoch. Very quirky.

  • Henry Branson
    2019-05-15 15:11

    If you were going to recommend one Iris Murdoch novel, to someone who had never read any, which summed up her work, this might be it!A large cast of intellectual and eccentric characters - check!Not one but two enigmatic sorcerers - check!An ethical dilemma at the heart of the novel - check!Key scene by the sea - check!Although it is sometimes frustrating that so many of her characters are drawn from the public school/Oxbridge/privileged/upper middle class slice of England that she occupied, the characters are always brilliantly drawn, the plots rich and full of ideas (many of which I'm sure I miss) and the settings are always vividly created.And a great scene between a dog and his owner!