Read De zee, de zee by Iris Murdoch Jo Fiedeldij Dop Online

Title : De zee, de zee
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ISBN : 9060196724
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 463 Pages
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De zee, de zee Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-06-01 06:09

    ”Even a middling novelist can tell quite a lot of truth. His humble medium is on the side of truth. Whereas the theatre, even at its most ‘realistic’, is connected with the level at which, and the methods by which, we tell our everyday lies. This is the sense in which ‘ordinary’ theatre resembles life, and dramatists are disgraceful liars unless they are very good. On the other hand, in a purely formal sense the theatre is the nearest to poetry of all the arts. I used to think that if I could have been a poet I would never have bothered with the theatre at all, but of course this is nonsense. What I needed with all my starved and silent soul was just that particular way of shouting back at the world. The theatre is an attack on mankind carried on by magic: to victimise an audience every night, to make them laugh and cry and suffer and miss their trains. Of course actors regard audiences as enemies, to be deceived, drugged, incarcerated, stupefied. This is partly because the audience is also a court against which there is no appeal.”Schruff End. Charles Arrowby’s place by The Sea.Charles Arrowby has retired from the theatre to a damp, drafty, but dramatic home by the sea. His plan is to live on his own, read, and eat well while he writes his memoirs. He is famous, certainly well known enough to be recognized on the street from his days acting and directing on the stage. He wants to be anonymous, but as I can tell anyone from personal experience the last place one can be anonymous is in a small town. ”I could have told you the country is the least peaceful and private place to live. The most peaceful and secluded place in the world is a flat in Kensington.”I found myself liking him. I especially enjoyed reading about him figuring out this life of reading, eating, and writing. It sounds ideal. As the plot advances it will take many shattering blows for me to let go of the Arrowby I liked and replace him with a man that is on the verge of lunacy. Charles may miss the drama of the stage, but he doesn’t miss it for long because his life becomes a stage play. It all starts to unwind when he goes to the village and sees his first love, Hartley appear as if by magic. As it turns out he is the only one that calls her Hartley everyone else calls her Mary. He knew her briefly before the war and during the war, as happened with many people, he lost track of her. Her life is a Mary life not a Hartley life. Charles can not accept the person he sees before him. She must metamorphosize and he is the man to make it happen”I saw: a stout elderly woman in a shapeless brown tent-like dress, holding a shopping bag and working her way, very slowly as if in a dream, along the street, past the Black Lion in the direction of the shop. This figure, which I had so vaguely, idly, noticed before was now utterly changing in my eyes. The whole world was its background. And between me and it there hovered, perhaps for the last time, the vision of a slim long-legged girl with gleaming thighs.”Oh good lord! Now Clement, who he actually talks the least about of all his lovers seems to be the woman that made him into the successful man he is today. ”Clement was the reality of my life, its bread and its wine. She made me, she invented me, she created me, she was my university, my partner, my teacher, my mother, later my child, my soul’s mate, my absolute mistress.”Clement made him feel so good that he did not attempt to find Hartley. She kept him from his one true love The Poor Bastard.Lizzie visits him, another one of his ex-lovers. She has decided to move in with their mutual friend Gilbert. ”Lizzie is half Scottish, half Sephardi Jew. Although she has the most adorable breasts of any woman I ever made love to, she is not really beautiful, and never was even when she was young, but she has charm.” Unfortunately Lizzie is still in love with Charles and even though he really doesn’t want her back he doesn’t want her with Gilbert either. ”Jealousy is born with love, but does not always die with love.”Rosina shows up as well yet another ex-lover. They can’t let him go any better than he can let them go. She is a famous actress almost as obsessed with Charles as Charles is becoming with Hartley. She breaks into house not once, but several times and soon knows all there is to know about this silly Hartley business. It seems that Charles broke up her marriage and then casually tossed her aside, but Rosina as it turns out is not the type to be so casually flung anywhere. She is more likely to pick Charles up and fling him into the sea or run over him with her car or brain him with a rock. Charles seems to have a most powerful effect on women, but his charms are having no influence on Hartley. Despite being resoundingly rebuffed his fantasy continues to grow. ”Her large brow, which looked white in the candlelight, was puckered and pitted with little shadows, but the way she had turned up the collar of her green cotton coat behind her hair gave her a girlish look. Perhaps that was what she used to do with her mackintosh collar in the days when we went bicycling. And even as I was listening intently to her words. I was all the time gazing with a kind of creative passion at her candlelit face, like some god reassembling her beauty for my own purposes.”Own purposes indeed. ”She did not have to join my grand intimidating alien world. To wed his beggar maid the king would, and how gladly, become a beggar too. The vision of that healing humility would henceforth be my guide. This was indeed the very condition of her freedom, why had I not seen this before? I would at last see her face changing. It was, I found, a part of my thought of the future that when she was with me Hartley would actually regain much of her old beauty: like a prisoner released from a labour camp who at first looks old, but then with freedom and rest and good food soon becomes young again.”Okay so he is losing all grip on reality, but isn’t that what actors do? They make the role their own and transcend the script.This book won the Booker Prize in 1978. This is the first Iris Murdoch I’ve read and I’ve got to say how impressed I am by her writing style and ability. I can’t believe I’ve never read her before. She wrote twenty-five works of fiction until 1995 when she began to experience the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease which she at first attributed to writer’s block. There is something so sad about a woman who thinks her writing ability has simply shut down only to learn that her body is failing her. She had more stories to tell us, but unfortunately they became locked up in the corridors of her mind with doors without knobs and crooked, meandering hallways. Iris MurdochWhen we first meet Charles he seems like a man that we would love to know, a favorite uncle or a friend to grab a beer with occasionally. As we get to know him better his selfishness, his egotism, his dramatic persona turns him into a person that I would avoid as if he were sporting bubonic plague. Murdoch brings us along, masterfully, through the dementia of Charles’s growing obsession with possessing something that frankly no longer exists. By the end he has proved to be as chimeric as the youthful Hartley. ”Last night someone on a BBC quiz did not know who I was.”

  • Jaidee
    2019-06-04 23:27

    5 Jungian Stars. 2015 Gold Award - Tie (First Favorite Read) Over the weekend I was sitting with a friend, having a tea and we were reading. She said, "How is the Murdoch book?" I looked up and without pausing or thinking and said "Simply wondrous". She tilted her head in her adorable way and said "Whatsitabout?"I took a moment, sighed and exclaimed, "Everything"This book is a psycho-spiritual masterpiece of the highest caliber. I decided to sit down and come up with a laundry list of what it is about:-the stars and earth-isolation, connection, misunderstandings, avoidance-narcissistic men and histrionic women-misunderstood boys and romantic girls-wine, cheese, mushrooms and biscuits-tea even when its not drunk-Buddhist demons and Christian saints-dreams, concussions, drownings, death-petty cruelties, belittlement and acts of supreme generosity-heterosexual passions and homosexual cravings-theatre, woodworking, cooking and music-merboys, seals, ghosts and sea dragons-vengeance and apathy-interpretations, neurosis and delusions-minutiae and momentary insights-sullen villagers and grandiose urbanites-dogs, cats and many roses-lost loves and childhood musings-churches, taxis and pubs-murderous rages and spiritual awakenings-vulgarities and tender exchanges-stagnation, repetition and momentary joyMost of all it is about the depth and changeability of the Sea. The Sea that with one swoosh can take away all that we hold dear and understanding that we never held it in the first place.Absolutely amazing. Thank you Ms. Murdoch.

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-06-01 07:22

    This book earned the author the Booker Prize in 1978. It’s a powerful book. I had seen it forever at library sales and for years I thought I should read it. Finally, I did, and I wish I had read it earlier. I’m giving it a rating of 5 and adding it to my favorites.The main character is a recently retired actor/playwright/theater director. He was a so-so actor, a better playwright, but a masterful director. In the last endeavor he achieved his fame and made his money. The main character is an egotist. The press has called him a tyrant and power-crazed monster. He’s a misogynist who has used and abused women all his life. A good friend, a male, tells him “the trouble with you, Charles, is that basically you despise women.”Now he has left the London scene to live by himself at a beach house in a tiny town, the first house he ever owned. Whatever will he DO there? All his friends ask him: How is someone like him, so used to the chaotic social scene of London’s theater world, seriously going to live in isolation in a small village?He spends his time writing a memoir that is a kind of diary and autobiography mixed in with copies of letters he sent or received; basically that is this book. Of course, we can’t trust his writing; even he tells us his letters are “partly disingenuous, partly sincere.” He discovers miraculously, that his first-time love lives in the tiny village. He feels that he has fallen in love with her again; or, that he never stopped loving her. Without giving away much plot, I can say that basically he “kidnaps” her away from her husband and tries to berate her into loving him again. She’s married in what he comes to consider an abusive relationship. Well, maybe, maybe not. Married relationships become a major theme of the book:In a bad marriage, can you really “…live on half dead and even have pleasures in your life.”On spousal abuse: “She felt herself guilty of his sins against her…”“Of course a marriage can look terrible, but be perfectly all right.”To which we can all add, there are also, perfect, ideal marriages that everyone talks about, praises and seek to emulate. Until they break up.A moral question: can we say that a child’s death can ‘strengthen’ a troubled marriage, if the child, now an adult, was the cause of most of the trouble?“They’ve got their own way of hating each other and hurting each other, they enjoy it.”There’s a lot of melodrama. Of course these are theater folks. Many of the women he abused throughout his life, wooing them and then abandoning them, still seem to be willing to move back in with him, now that he is alone. I wonder if a male author could get away with this scenario as well as this female author has. They seem to still hate him, despite their willingness to come back to him. All his old loves (he never married) come back to haunt him with dramatic, unannounced entrances (he has no phone). They come dragging their chains like the ghosts of Christmas past. They appear at his door at the most inopportune times, creating a theater-like farce. (‘Enter stage left.’) At times the women talk and act more like they are mentally ill than in love. One woman breaks into his house and smashes mirrors and vases. One smashes another woman’s purse. One enters the dining room while he is dining with a friend and spits on the floor. Another ambushes a car full of people he is traveling with, smashing all the windows with rocks. He tells us “I had witnessed hysterical screaming before, but nothing like this.” We have some surprising plot twists. There’s an accidental death, an attempted murder, and a death where it appears that the person ‘willed it.’ Passages I liked:“Guilt feelings so often arise from accusations rather than from crimes.”“We were poorish and lonely and awkward together.” (Of his parents during his childhood when he was theater-mad as a boy.)On bad press: “Even if readers claim they ‘take it with a grain of salt’, they do not really. They yearn to believe, and they believe, because believing is easier than disbelieving, and anything which is written down is likely to be ‘true in a way’.”She “…pulled the blanket up over her head as if she were a corpse covering itself.” “The thunder made some sounds like grand pianos falling downstairs…” “He was a brave man. I cannot pretend I ever really loved him, but I do admire him for trying to kill me…”This is a really good book. And it is another ‘beach house’ book by an Irish author. Consider several of William Trevor’s; Banville’s The Sea; Colm Toibin’s The Heather Blazing and Blackwater Lightship. Of course the classic beach house novel is Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, but she is not Irish.Murdoch can be considered an Irish author even though she grew up in and went to school in England. She was born in Ireland and both her parents were Irish. I intend to read more by Iris Murdoch. Photos from

  • StevenGodin
    2019-05-26 03:28

    Ah the sea, that wonderful spectacle bringing joy to countless many, whether swimming, diving, surfing, fishing, boating, splashing about in waist high water or just simply strolling along the shoreline whist the tide tickles your feet. But for some they won't go anywhere near it, all thanks to a certain Steven Spielberg film. For Iris Murdoch's fictional character Charles Arrowby, getting munched on by a shark is not likely and the last thing on his mind, after all, this is the British coast we are dealing with here. The former theatre playwright and actor just wanted to escape and retire by the sea, away from London, away from everyone, to be left alone. Could he have foreseen the life ahead of him? seeing a sea serpent, believing a ghost is wondering around his home, running into women from his past good and bad, nearly drowning through an apparent attempted murder, or ending up with a houseful of unwanted guests, apart from the one he does want, Hartley, his childhood love.This 1978 Booker prize-winning novel was a feast of reading, rich, textured, deep characters and a story that keep me intrigued throughout. It was a study of vanity and self-delusion more than anything else, with Charles Arrowby the egomaniac narrator a most unlikable person, moving to Shruff End, a house with a tower by the cliffs "How huge it is, how empty, this great space for which I have been longing all my life," Arrowby writes. He would clamber down the rocks and take to the sea come rain or shine for a swim, letting the calm of the water engulf him. Arrowby is writing his memoirs, and his attempt to chronicle his successful career in the histrionic arts, he wants to be a hermit and indulge in fine wine, gourmet food, whist pondering over his history.But with nothing but his writings, it is inevitable that Arrowby will create some sort of drama in his boring life, even in this isolated spot, and this he does, by attempting to draw his former lover Lizzie into his new life while trying to destroy the marriage of his childhood sweetheart, Hartley (the one he really loves). Other visitors would appear on the scene to congregate at his new abode, shedding light on Arrowby's past and present: including his Buddhist armed forces cousin, James, and various theatrical ex-lovers and ex-friends. Their relationships start to reveal the shallow ways of Arrowby's self-knowledge, as well as his ability to be a manipulating bully, and a complete belligerent asshole. Murdoch's subtly and blackly humorous digs, periodically build into waves of hilarity, and Arrowby (although on the whole unlikable) is without doubt a brilliant creation: a deeply textured, intriguing narrator that you just can't get enough of, leading to one of the finest character studies of the 20th century. But Murdoch also uses a cast of supporting characters to great effect, Hartley, a gray, worn and distraught woman living through the pain of a marriage than doesn't seem just, the jealous, raging ex-lover Rosina, Peregrine, an old friend who may have alternative motives for his visit, Titus, a young man that turns out to be Hartley's son, and cousin James, who may or may not have some sort of Tibetan superhuman ability, they all work into the story tremendously well.In intricately charting the multifaceted deceptions of Charles Arrowby, Murdoch adeptly elaborates on a motif that followed her in her lifelong concern with Good, with Love, and with Freedom: to be good one must transform the personal into the impersonal, one must escape one’s private self and concern oneself with others. Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest , The Sea, The Sea brilliantly depicts the risks and self-deceptions of life, the precarious and important distinction between imagination and fantasy, and the vital importance of negotiating these dangers.My only gripe, there were too many moments when I wanted to push Arrowby into the sea myself, for his constant whining, other than that it's writing of a virtuoso, tour-de-force nature.

  • Adam Dalva
    2019-06-03 04:16

    An extraordinary novel, at once page-turner and philosophic, comic and melodramatic, one of the best that I've read. Murdoch is remarkably skilled at inhabiting the minds of her protagonists, and Charles Arrowby, a late-middle-aged, bumbling, morally dubious, veteran of theater, is a wondrous creation. The first 100 pages of this novel shouldn't work, as Charles, in journal form, moves to Shruff's end and inhabits a lonely house by the sea, wanders around town, experiences visions that he blames on LSD (about which, more soon), goes on lengthy diatribes about food:"For lunch, I may say, I ate and greatly enjoyed the following: anchovy paste on hot buttered toast, then baked beans and kidney beans with chopped celery, tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil. (really good olive oil is essential..." (this goes on for another 15 lines)and thinks about his life. Though this early section is essentially pure exposition, it works, and I was oddly gripped. I was especially fascinated by what Murdoch left under the surface. THE SEA THE SEA has to be record-holder for characters mentioned who never appear - you can track the sub-narratives of at least a dozen acquaintances of Charles, such as a chauffeur who he feels he's wronged who shows up for exactly three paragraphs 400 pages in but is discussed incessantly beforehand.And then, at the end of these 100 pages, the twist, one of the greatest twists in literature. All along, the journal hints at a lost love from childhood, one who comes up over and over again. “All a child’s blind fear was there, the fear that my mother so early inspired in me: the kiss withheld, the candle taken. Hartley, my Hartley. Yes, I see her quickly jumping over a rope, higher and higher it was raised, Hartley still flew over, the watchers sighing each time with sympathetic relief; and I hugging my heart in secret pride. She was the champion jumper of the school…Hartley always first, and I cheering with the rest and laughing with secret joy. Hartley, in a breathless stillness, crouched upon a parallel bar, her bare thighs gleaming. The games master spoke of the Olympics."A sequence of jilted lovers visits and leaves, and the last's headlights reveals the woman herself: Hartley, now old, in the woman in town who Charles has kept walking by without noticing. And then a string of completely insane coincidences begins. It's a bit difficult to summarize - there's Charles's cousin James, who might have magical powers (I can't believe this book pulls off a mysticism sub-plot); Hartley's estranged adopted son; Hartley's husband, surely, surely the model for Albert in "The Bear Comes Over The Mountain," Lizzie the love obsessed actress, and her gay partner Gilbert Opian, the novel's saving grace, who has a 50 page lite-BDSM sequence where he intentionally debases himself as Charles's Butler; Rosina, who is also in love with Charles and wants to kill him, and HER husband who Charles stole her from, though their friendship is unaffected; Clement Makin, who is dead and quite possibly the actual love of Charles's life; and of course Hartley, who Charles stalks and eventually kidnaps. It's as good a cast as I can remember in a book, and they function like Shakespearean ghosts. Shruff's End is clearly meant to be thought of as a stage, with exits on all sides and a clear set, and characters come crashing into it at all hours of the night. As with her punchier, slightly less ambitious SEVERED HEAD, we tolerate this madness because the characters are so fully realized, because it is so madcap, so fun to read. Things slow down in the third act, which bears some resemblances to Proust's THE CAPTIVE, as the book achieves a stasis that it doesn't want to have. An extraordinary night party sequence brings the energy back up, and the ending, totally bizarre, is virtually perfect.I regret, greatly, not reading Murdoch sooner. This is a big, sloppy, flawed book, and I couldn't sleep for 3 straight nights until I finished reading it. Make the time for it.

  • Perry
    2019-06-16 03:33

    All our failures are ultimately failures in love.Iris MurdochOh boy. This is deep, dudes. Far out and deeply deep, dudettes.Rather than trying my unworthy hand at a thorough analysis of a psychologically complex 500 page novel, I shall lay track for a few grooves.Dig it.Near the beginning, I thought it might be a romance. No way, man. More like a real Mystery of Mental and Emotional Health and Well-being.What is love? How is the idea or thought of it, especially young love, affected by the passage of time, what with our tendency to romanticize our youth? The painful paradox of the ego (false pride), with its fang-ed sea serpent 'jealousy,' blinding us to reason, depriving us of patience and filling us with anger, all of which operates to ruin the very love that our innate sexuality tells us to cherish above all else. The ways we lie to ourselves to enable the fantasy, even to the edge of sanity, that another loves us despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.This is a thought provoker that goes down some murky places in the mind. Some readers may be turned off by what at times seems like a long-windedness of the first person narrator. Although it seemed to me, after finishing it, that 50 pages could have been trimmed, I haven't studied it enough to make conclude that those 50 were unneeded, and not the kick that pushed this novel into "classic" territory.I could delve into all my thoughts triggered by the profundity of Iris Murdoch. It would be a ramble for it reminds me of how I languished in damaged love's lassitudes all the day I finished it. So, in that respect, I couldn't have read a more timely book.This is a surefire 4.5 stars on the water.

  • Jean
    2019-06-01 06:13

    The Sea the Sea by Iris Murdoch, is her 20th novel, which won the Booker prize in 1978. The author famously was an academic; a professor of Philosophy at Oxford University, who also wrote novels with a philosophical focus.The novel is in the form of a journal. The viewpoint character throughout is a famous actor and director, Charles Arrowby. The impression we gain immediately is that he is a solitary, rather arrogant and egotistical individual. In the novel he has decided to retire to "Shruff End" a dilapidated and creaky old house on a rocky promontory next to the sea. He tells us that he has decided to get away from London life once and for all, and to follow his dream of living in seclusion, much to the bewilderment and scepticism of all his theatre friends.The journal he writes, and which we are reading, is an attempt to form some structure to his life, and to be a memoir of sorts. But even though he professes to be writing details of the house and village, he seems to find it impossible to concentrate on the job he has set himself, which he says is the reason for being there in the first place. He becomes distracted inordinately easily; even the food he prepares is an excuse. He rambles on about his culinary activities - both past and present, "guzzling large quantities of expensive, pretentious, often mediocre food in public places was not only immoral, unhealthy and unaesthetic, but also unpleasurable. Later my guests were offered simple chez moi. What is more delicious than fresh hot buttered toast, with or without the addition of bloater paste? Or plain boiled onions with a little corned beef if desired?"This gives us the measure of the man; faddish and particular to the point of eccentricity. And given subsequent events in the novel, it is probably important for the author to get the reader on Charles's side, to enjoy his little foibles and forgive him what appears to be fanciful and conceited notions about himself.Increasingly Charles has little grumbles about the privations of his self-imposed exile, reporting spooky goings on. He half imagines there is a poltergeist, as things keep mysteriously getting smashed. (view spoiler)[In the event this turns out to be a red herring. An old girlfriend had been indulging in a spot of mischief-making.(hide spoiler)]He reassures both himself and the reader that this could be due to a solitary experiment with mind-altering drugs in his youth, thus rationalising the weird "supernatural" experiences that he has. There is an ambiguous attitude to the supernatural here. Sometimes it seems as though there can be no logical explanation for the events; yet at other times a delayed reaction to LSD seems more than likely. Several of the horrific and malevolent impressions Charles reports, are bound up with his feelings about the sea. (view spoiler)[He is terrified of a monster of a creature - a thirty-foot eel-like serpent which coils up out of the sea.(hide spoiler)]But is this after all merely what used to be called a "bad trip"? The best parts in the first half of the book have to be the wonderful descriptions of the sea, which increasingly seems to have an organic, perhaps omniscient presence,"The sea was covered by a clear grey light together with a thick rain curtain. The rain was exhibited in the light as if it were an illuminated grille, and as if each raindrop were separately visible like the beads upon my bead curtain. There it hung, faintly vibrating in the brilliant grey air, while the house hummed like a machine with the steady sound of pattering."Occasionally he tries to refocus his thoughts, and we get a potted history of his early rather dull life with his mother and father, and his more glamorous and outgoing Aunt Estelle, Uncle Abel and cousin James, whom he says he detests, but clearly envies. He tells us about his theatrical life with charm, and describes his many relationships with women, professing to not understand his undeniable attraction and appeal for any female he meets, yet obviously making sure he leaves us in no doubt about it. We are very aware that Charles may be an unreliable narrator. His conquests of women seems very fanciful. Is every woman he has ever met really in love with him? At this point he also waxes lyrical about an old childhood romance with a girl called Hartley, his only "true love", and the readers gets the impression that Charles is impossibly unrealistic, viewing the world almost entirely through his imagination.The journal is a useful device, telling us much of the history we need to know, and developing our ideas about Charles's character, as well as giving us an indication of his attitudes towards some of the other people who will enter the novel. It is also presented in a totally believable and authentic way. An amateur, unpractised writer, starting with a vague idea in retirement, may well start off with one idea, and go off at various tangents, being diverted by other ideas. However this early part of the novel does seem to be a little tedious and self-indulgent. It is rather too full of lengthy speeches and conversation; there are great long swathes of emoting from the characters, and it's all very angst-ridden. Nothing much seems to be happening, and a modern reader cannot help wishing this first part of the novel had been edited. In this way the novel is very much of its time, the 1970s, when self-expression was all, with the Arts swamped with long unformed passages of "progressive" music, experimental literature, painting and sculpture. But then, to rescue the reader's attention, there are the magnificent and evocative descriptions of the sea in all its moods. There is an impending sense of doom. There are so many descriptions of the sea, and the whirling cauldron of foam. It is very symbolic, sometimes for the emotions and moods of the characters, sometimes perhaps for their stormy relationships, sometimes it seems to be Charles's "id". He often goes in search of the sea when he is in mental turmoil - once even desperately "checking" on it through his binoculars, as if he could somehow get a portent of how things would be from a glimpse of its state. Sometimes the sea seems like a live creature itself,"It was as if the sun were shining through a mist, but a mist made out of the dark blue globules of the sky itself. I remember the lurid impression of that evening, the vivid dark light, the brilliant vibrating colours of the rocks ... There was no breath of wind, not the softest breeze. The sea was menacingly quiet, utterly smooth, glassy, glossy, oily, a uniform azure."Inevitably, about half way through, something is bound to happen. Charles is not left in his isolation. Starting with a letter, his acting friends, all unbearable "luvvies" begin to descend on him in ones and twos. Parts of this are very funny, and one part where they are all wondering where on earth they can camp out in Charles's ramshackle house, is almost farcical. The interrelation between characters is pure Iris Murdoch. Each seems absorbed in their own little middle-class world; each professing attitudes and ideas the reader suspects are dissembling. Who is manipulating whom? It is not clear. These events serve two purposes, because they also show another side to Charles. At one point, an ex-girlfriend remarks acidly, "you know you can't keep your hands off women", yet throughout so far Charles has claimed he has a scrupulously fair and respectful attitude to females, even using the word "unsexed" to describe his fastidious, ascetic attitude. (view spoiler)[Yet now we learn that he has broken up the marriage of Rosina, seemingly just because he can. He will jettison the ever-faithful Lizzie without a thought, at the drop of a hat, as he has done several times before. The reader now begins to wonder about the idolised Hartley. Could the relationship have possibly been as innocent, pure and altogether romantic as Charles has claimed? This is information we are never actually privy to, but it is clear that Hartley herself will necessarily have to enter the story, and (hide spoiler)] the way this is achieved is a whopping, fairly unbelievable coincidence. It does strain credulity. Yet this is a novel, and such deus ex machina abound, from Greek tragedies right through to the works of Charles Dickens, so perhaps we should allow Iris Murdoch this one. (view spoiler)[We follow the story of Hartley's family, her marriage to Ben and adoption of Titus, and (hide spoiler)] the subsequent events in this novel follow the pattern of a slightly bizarre thriller, with aspects of cruelty, mental instability, jealousy, manipulation, entrapment, imprisonment, abduction, domination, tyranny, corruption, perversion of love, obsession, and brain-washing."Sheer hatred can be a commanding form of madness.""Jealousy is born with love, but does not always die with love."The comic interventions of the minor characters, Charles's friends, begin to take on a grotesque quality. Neither they, nor, it has to be said the reader, can quite believe the tenacity with which Charles clings to his idealistic notions. We quickly revise our opinion that he seemed to be a mildly eccentric but likeable ageing actor, who liked to have his ego massaged every now and then. His friend Perry tries to bring him back down to earth advising,(view spoiler)["What reality she has is elsewhere. She does not coincide with your dream figure. You were not able to transform her." Perhaps the earlier part of the novel was necessary solely to establish the mundane side of Charles's life, so that these events could be more believable. Certainly the fact that we have been told Charles "lost" Hartley at 18, when she ran away from him, makes us wonder about how honest he is being about himself, and how clear about his memories. Why did she leave him so irrevocably, so that there was no possibility she might be found? And indeed, is this really what happened? Hartley herself seems to be an enigma in the novel, sometimes professing love for Charles and actively seeking him out, yet constantly refusing to leave her husband. At times she seems weak and ineffectual, at others she is reported by other characters to be unstable, and there do seem to be indications that this is true. And how does the reader interpret her final action?Charles claims that as a result of their idyllic childhood passion, all his future chances at happiness in love were destroyed. All his subsequent relationships with women had been paltry and sham, compared with the perfection of the love shared between him and Hartley. And the distorted rather overbearing relationship he had had with the much older Clement, could presumably have had a negative influence on him. (hide spoiler)]Increasingly the reader becomes less aware that the novel is a journal, as it becomes a chronicle of the unfolding events. At each point the sea becomes more symbolic, both a portent and metaphor for both the action and the relationships. Take this powerful passage, which comes about three quarters of the way through the novel when arguably the most tragic event has taken place, and the viewpoint character is in despair,"The rain came down, straight and silvery, like a punishment of steel rods. It clattered onto the house and onto the rocks and pitted the sea. The thunder made some sounds like grand pianos falling downstairs, then settled to a softer continuous rumble which was almost drowned by the sound of the rain. The flashes of lightning joined into long illuminations which made the grass a lurid green, the rocks blazing ochre."So how does this novel, written 36 years ago now, hold up? Surprisingly well, actually. It is not as dated as one might expect, perhaps since the "luvvie" actor types of personality which the author renders so accurately are, unfortunately, timeless. Of course the flow of writing, that particular style, is of its time. During the 1960s and 70s there was much interest in self-development and a search for meaning. The prevailing attitude, especially amongst the young, was that there was a purpose in finding a new approach to leading a good life. There seemed to be all the time in the world for such introspection. The Western world was not as concerned with acquisitiveness, and appearances, as it is now. Increasingly more people were searching for a deeper meaning, a significance, which would lead to a knowledge of one's purpose in life. To some extent, we have lost the positive side of that now with our busy, materialistic 21st century world of superficiality, our overly competitive society where cooperation has been sacrificed for boastful procrastinations and gloss. Yet the downside of that time, was that there was scope for a lot of self-indulgence and pretentiousness amongst the search for deeper meanings. Such philosophical and esoteric musings are at the core of this book. There are both supremely tragic and comedic events, yet we have a journey running though the novel. In many ways it is Charles's journey to becoming more self-aware, and beginning to stop his self-delusions, and gain a moral compass. Very near the end, he muses,"How much, I see as I look back, I read into it all, reading my own dream text and not looking at the reality ... Yes of course I was in love with my own youth ... Who is one's first love?" Elements of fate, coincidences and brushes with the supernatural are present throughout. The coincidence of (view spoiler)[Charles moving to exactly the same small village where the elderly Hartley now lives is perhaps significant. Was there an underlying trigger for this? A hidden event, or a notion from their shared past, now forgotten by the conscious mind, but which Charles unknowingly latched onto when he bought the house? (hide spoiler)] Perhaps this is intended to demonstrate the unknowable force and power of love. Perhaps it is part of the thread of mysticism which runs through the book; the idea that we generally only perceive things in a limited, logical way, and cannot see the whole picture. That the mind is, unknowably for most of us, larger. Near the end of the book, Charles's older cousin James tells him about "bardo", a kind of limbo or holding place for souls who are in between their journeys on the wheel of life.(view spoiler)[ James seems to be telling Charles that the part of his life after he left London, and before he rediscovered his lost love, was an earthly parallel to "bardo". He was displaced, his life was without meaning. Events were painful for him - especially one tragic event. Yet he would eventually be released from that place, that mental state. It is not only Charles who experiences this state in the novel either. Throughout many of the minor characters such as Lizzie, are falling in and out of love, and agonising over their tangled emotional relationships. James's summing-up, before his possibly voluntary demise, can be seen as a commentary on the entire sequence of events. (hide spoiler)]The elements of mysticism in the book all come together and are given expression by James. Through having a position of command in the Army, he has spent a great deal of his live travelling through Tibet. He is a Buddhist, deeply involved yet rather secretive about the various ancient religious traditions he has experienced there. Towards the end of the novel, (view spoiler)[perhaps when he knows that it will cease to matter any more, he becomes much more open. He tells Charles that being able to change body temperature by force of will is a simple trick, like the Indian rope trick, and that anyone can learn it. We are invited to believe that James, by virtue of this power of "mind over body", has superhuman strength and control. He managed to save Charles's life, and almost saved Titus's life too, except that he was not in time. But there is an ambiguity. An alternative explanation is within an easy grasp. One had been a tragic accident, one due to a combination of a freak wave, lifting him up, allied to a flashback of a drug-inspired experience. Was Charles's clouded memory to be relied on? He did not seem altogether sure himself, and by the end of the novel was open to many ways of thinking. At one point he himself says the sea serpent represents his jealousy. (hide spoiler)] This impressionistic, esoteric, thoughtful type of writing is rarely found in modern literary novels, which have lost this dimension. They may be full of in-depth analysis and lyrical writing, but are necessarily less elusive, contemplative and illusory.The skill of the novel is that it is possible to read and understand the indication of an alternative mystical interpretation of events, all interconnecting and determining the wheels of others' lives. Or it can be read as completely explicable by earthly, known logical precepts. Iris Murdoch leaves it open to the reader to decide which. Yes, it resonated even more for the time it was written. But it is well worth reading now too.

  • Alex
    2019-06-23 03:36

    Here's the first thing I love about The Sea, The Sea: its title. Isn't it wonderful? Imagine how boring it would have looked on a shelf if it had just been called "The Sea." But with that profoundly simple decision to repeat itself, it suddenly drips horror and madness and obsession. It's just brilliant. Almost makes me wish Emily Bronte had called her book "The Moor, The Moor."And then Murdoch plays this terrific game with the opening sentence: The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine.Which is the boring first sentence of a book that should be called "The Sea." It even says "bland"! Blahhhh, lame, until you get to the next paragraph:I had written the above, destined to be the opening paragraph of my memoirs, when something happened which was so extraordinary and so horrible that I cannot bring myself to describe it even now after an interval of time and although a possible, though not totally reassuring, explanation has occurred to me. And there's the first sentence of a book called "The Sea, The Sea." Whee! Off we go, madness and horror.

  • Paul
    2019-06-08 01:23

    I struggled with this for a while, mainly because I was so irritated by Charles Arrowby, the main character and unreliable narrator. Arrowby is a retired actor, director and playwright who has moved to a remote cottage by the sea and is tentatively writing his memoirs. Whole successions of characters, many of them former lovers, arrive and depart and Charles encounters his first love Hartley who has also retired to the area with her husband. Like many of Murdoch’s characters Arrowby is not very likeable and seems completely oblivious to the mayhem he creates among his nearest and dearest. I also found myself increasingly irritated by what he did with food (nothing kinky here!); if Murdoch meant him to be annoying, she wrote him very well. There is moral complexity and ambiguity as Arrowby tries to recapture his first love (literally). The cast of secondary characters are strong and are not there for mere ornament. Cousin James is an interesting counterpoint to Arrowby.The Sea is an ever present and the title comes from Xenophon’s Anabasis, an account of the travels of 10,000 Greek mercenary soldiers who end up getting stranded in the middle of the Persian Empire. They have to fight their way through hostile areas to the Black Sea coastline near Greece. The cry of The Sea, The Sea is one of joy and relief; it is symbolic of home; the home Arrowby wants in his twilight years. However there is a French poem which has the line “The Sea, The Sea, forever restarting” and that also has resonance as Arrowby tells his story. It will be no surprise to know Murdoch’s favourite Shakespeare play is The Tempest and there are parallels; Arrowby is an odd Prospero. The sea serpent is a strange addition and the Freudians have had a field day with that one. However, the principal idea here, the key to all Murdoch’s fiction is contingency. Murdoch usually has purpose in her literature; she argued that religion and philosophy had lost their oomph (a technical term) and potency in explaining the human condition and can be described as dry (see her essay called Against Dryness). It is up to literature to provide what religion and philosophy now cannot; an interesting argument. Murdoch stresses the importance of the accidental, unpredictable and life’s sheer messiness; this is what she means by contingency. Contingency invades Charles Arrowby’s life with monotonous regularity and the ending is unresolved, messy and indeed contingent.

  • Duane
    2019-06-01 23:15

    This is a five-hundred page diary of a madman. Vain, heartless, jealous, rude; all of these, and more, apply to Charles Arrowby, the central character of the novel. Charles is a retired actor who has left London and bought a house (Shruff End) hard by the sea, where he intends to write a memoir of his career, his life and loves. Low and behold he runs into his childhood sweetheart, Hartley, who lives nearby, and his little self-centered world runs completely off the tracks. He sets about trying to convince her to leave her husband and run away to him, and this is the scenario that plays out over most of the novel. Murdoch may be one of the few writers who could create such an unlikeable cast of characters, and still keep the reader interested in the story. She is a good writer, make no mistake about that. It was overly long but I liked it well enough to give it four stars.1978 Booker Prize winner.

  • Sara
    2019-06-23 23:28

    I’m fairly certain no one writes, or ever has written, exactly like Iris Murdoch. Reading her prose is like listening to Frank Sinatra sing--you might have heard the song before, but never like that. In the first 200 pages of this book, I could not decide where it was going. Charles seemed an egocentric misogynist, not worthy of the interest I was showing in him. The plot seemed desperately thin and a bit all over the place, but the writing was exquisite, the descriptions were musical, and there was something fascinating that meant I never thought of putting the book down. Then, with a suddenness that was surprising, all the bits began to fall together, Charles became someone intricate and complicated and the plot started to develop into a gripping story of love, obsession, misdirection, mystery and human foibles. Minor characters took on hidden meaning and became central to the story and Charles became someone you could laugh at and cry for simultaneously. I succumbed to emotions that bubbled up like the surf of Murdoch’s raging sea. I felt the tension of the situation, I struggled to think how it could be resolved and leave anyone intact, I worried for the sanity of everyone involved, and I mourned for the things that might have been if any of these characters had lived life with their eyes open. If there is one thing I could say is unique in Murdoch’s writing, it is that you feel her story as much as read it. ”It’s not an eternal thing, nothing human is eternal. For us, eternity is an illusion. It’s like in a fairy tale. When the clock strikes twelve it will all crumble to pieces and vanish. And you’ll find you are free of her, free of her forever, and you can let the poor ghost go. What will remain will be ordinary obligations and ordinary interests. And you’ll feel relief, you’ll feel free. At present you’re just obsessed, hypnotized.”How much of life is exactly that? Obsession and invention. How often in life do we substitute our realities, our possibilities, for dreams, which are unreachable? Is it worth anything to us if we recognize the truth of love when life is all but done? And how much like the ever-changing, unfeeling, often cruel sea, is life? Charles romanticizes both, and plays a dangerous game with both, and each of us must decide for himself if the price Charles pays is worth the knowledge he gleans. Charles is a complete character. He grows and morphs, despite all his efforts not to. And, while he is growing, so do we. This is the only Murdoch I have ever read, but I have no hesitation in labeling her “genius”.

  • Jesse
    2019-06-02 23:24

    I found this both repelling and compulsive, and the more repulsed I became the less capable I seemed of putting it down. I was hooked just several pages in, enamored with the elegant, elegiac tone of Charles Arrowby's attempts at composing a memoir/diary after exiling himself to a remote seaside home to live in monastic isolation. Via Arrowby, Murdoch's prose takes on a sea-like quality, the ebb-and-flow of memories and musings churning together present and past to the point where the edges of reality and unreality begin to blur imperceptibly. I settled in for what I fully expected to be more or less an intelligent and eerie psychological thriller.But just as it was not meant for Arrowby to enjoy his solitude, so I was quickly jumbled out of any conceptions that I was in for a graceful memory piece. Suddenly figures from Arrowby's past begin showing up uninvited at his doorstep, culminating with the unexpected reappearance of a lost first love, setting off a string of increasingly erratic behavior that quickly threaten to become dangerous. It took a while for me to adjust to such a drastic change of narrative trajectory, but as it went along I began to appreciate the grand guignol absurdity of it all. And it wasn't, I admit, until just about the very end that I realized how the incongruent-seeming opening does indeed set up nicely the rest of the novel: reported to be the premiere interpreter of Shakespeare of his day, isn't it natural, maybe even inevitable that Arrowby's life takes on an expansive Shakespearian theatricality? "All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players:They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts,His acts being seven ages."-Shakespeare, As You Like ItAnd that kind of sums up my final response to The Sea, The Sea—creaky, isolated Shruff End is not the place of escape and seclusion Arrowby intends it to be, but is merely an empty stage upon which the figures of his past, present and possibly his future appear with a theatrical punctuality, reciting their lines, performing their small roles and disappearing again into the wings again until called upon again to reappear on cue around Arrowby as he plays his "many parts," from a wizened Prospero to a tragic Lear to a pathetically misguided attempt at Romeo and Juliet that quickly deteriorates into a truly horrific parody of Taming of the Shrew. Did I enjoy The Sea, The Sea? I can't honestly say that I did. I'm not even sure that I liked it per se. But it did compel me to descend into a unique type of claustrophobic madness, creating a literary experience of a type that I've never quite experienced before, which is saying something indeed. My true reaction is suspended somewhere between three and four stars, but considering that the only other Murdoch novel I've read has continued to grow in stature in my memory, I gladly give the novel the benefit of the doubt and round my rating up. The past and the present are so close, so almost one, as if time were an artificial teasing out of material which longs to join, to interpenetrate, and to become heavy and very small like some of those heavenly bodies scientists tell us of."

  • Salma
    2019-05-30 06:12

    Luna Punch By Alexander Janssonتشارلز آروبي ممثل انكليزي مسرحي مشهور، قرر أن يتقاعد حين بلغ الستين من عمره في بيت عتيق و ناء على شط البحر، و طفق يكتب مذكراته... و لكن مشروعه في الانعزال تهشم حين التقى في تلك القرية بحبه القديم هارتلي التي هربت منه قبل أربعين عاما، ليستيقظ الشغف القديم... شغف تحول مع تراكمات السنين و توهمات الذاكرة لهوس أناني انبجس دفعة واحدة... مما أفزع هارتلي التي كانت تعيسة في زواجها حتى تأقلمت مع تعاستها و أصيبت بحالة من الهستيريا حين فرض عليها نفسه و صار يلاحقها... فلو أن شخصا اعتاد أن يعيش في قفص كل هذه العقود حتى تقلص جسده معه، فهل سيستطيع الخروج لو فتحت الباب له و ينتصب قائما، ألن يصاب بالذعر؟ الرواية أتعبت أعصابي بهذيان بطلها و هستيريا بطلتها فتركتها عدة أيام... مع غيظ و انزعاج من مشاعر البطل حتى وددت ضربه على رأسه حتى يصحصح و يدعها و شأنها... هل كان هذا الهوس مشاعر حب حقيقة أو أنه لم يكن سوى انعكاس لنرجسيته في الرغبة باستعادة الماضي عبر تلك المخلوقة المحطمة... لم أفهم شغفه، و لم أستطع التعاطف معه... فكيف يستطيع امرؤ أن يجمد لحظة من الزمن كل هذه العقود ثم يظن أن شيئا لم يتغير... ألم يتغير هو؟ أفكر في نفسي لو أن أحدا التقى بي بعد عقود طويلة و قد أحب صورتي القديمة... لكنما تلك لم يعد لها من وجود إلا في رأسه، و قد غادرتني و ما عدت أتعرف عليها... بل أحسبني لن أكون ممتنة لمثل هذا الحب... واحدنا في تطور مستمر، فكيف يدعي شخص لم يشهد تطورك أنه ما زال يعرفك فضلا عن أنه ما زال يحبك؟ أم أنه أنا التي لم تفهم هذا، أنا التي تستنكف عن قراءة مذكراتها و لا تجد غضاضة في التخلص مما تقادم العهد عليه، لن تفهم كيف يستطيع أن يستشعر الذكرى امرؤ بعد غياب طويل و كأنها حدثت لتوها! و كيف لمن تظن مثلي أن البعد جفاء و نسيان، و ما هو بعيد عن العين لا ينبهك لوجوده طوال الوقت، سرعان ما يبتعد عن القلب و يتلاشى كتلاشي الكحول في الهواء... كيف لها أن تفهم شعوره؟!و لكن هل حقا كان هوس تشارلز حبا بها، أم أنه حب للصورة التي غذاها في عقله كل هذه السنين حتى أدمنها و باتت مثل أيقونة يتعبدها، تمثالا اصطنعه من واقع ولى لم يعد له صلة به إلا تشابه الأسماء؟ "و هكذا يمكن أن يكون الناس مصادر للنور طيلة سنين في حياة الآخرين دون أن يدروا أبدا، بينما تتخذ حيواتهم مسالك أخرى مختلفة و خفية. و على هذا النحو أيضا يمكن أن يكون المرء ... وحشا، سرطانا، في عقل شخص يكون المرء قد نسيه تقريبا، أو ربما لم يلتق به أبدا" ص598لا يمكن للرواية إلا أن تدخلك في دوامة من الأسئلة و الأفكار... فهذا هو أسلوب أيريس الذي أحببته مذ قرأت روايتها تحت الشبكة... رحلة نفسية تغوص داخل عقل البطل الراوي، تداعيات أفكاره و التناقضات التي تملؤه و محاولته لتحليل أدق و أخفى مشاعره و من ثم كيفية تطوره من الداخل و تنامي وعيه... أسلوبها قد ناسبني تماما، هذا الأسلوب المستغرق في الذات المشغولة بنفسها و المنعزلة و المتأملة لبطل يختلف عن أبطال الروايات الحديثة كما يصرح البطل عن نفسه، فهو لم تكن له تلك الغراميات الكثيرة و هو اعتراف قد يخجل بطل الروايات الحديث ذكره على عكسه... فضلا عن الجو الموحش المتوحد الذي أضفاه المنزل النائي المطل على جرف البحر مع برجه المتهدم و دارت فيه أحداث الروايةالرواية حائزة على البوكر لعام 1978... و سر تكرر كلمة البحر في العنوان أنه مقتبس من بيت شعر، و الذي بدوره مقتبس من صرخة السعادة بالعثور على البحر الأسود من قبل الجنود الإغريق الهائمين و نجاتهم من الموت، كما نقلها المؤرخ اليوناني زينوفونقد أحببت عوالم أيريس مردوخ هذه الروائية البريطانية، التي كانت فيلسوفة أيضا، و لذلك لن أتردد في القراءة لها ثالثة و رابعة و كلما أتيح لي... كما لا أنكر إعجابي الشديد بقصة حياتها مع زوجها الذي أحبها و عاش مبهورا بذكائها و بنقاشاتهما الثرية طوال حياتها، و حين توفيت كتب مرثيته عنها على شكل مذكرات، و التي تحولت للفيلم الجميل Irisو في النهاية أود أن أقول أن الطباعة لم تكن أفضل ما يكون، فلم يكن هناك فاصل بين كثير من الفقرات و لو بسطر واحد، إذ فجأة تكتشف أن الكلام تغير لموضوع آخر، فضلا عن تكرار حوالي الخمسين صفحة... كما أني كرهت غلاف الكتاب جدا... على أية حال، الكتاب طبعته قديمة و دار الآداب قد باتت تعتني بأغلفة كتبها أكثر من السابق---آيريس مردوخ--سلمىآذار 2015

  • Edward
    2019-05-27 01:29

    Introduction--The Sea, The Sea

  • Teresa Proença
    2019-06-25 23:12

    Iris Murdoch nasceu em Dublin em 1919. Filósofa, poeta, dramaturga e romancista, morreu aos 79 anos com a mente destruída pelo monstro Alzheimer.O Mar, O Mar - vencedor do Man Booker Prize em 1978 - conta a história de Charles Arrowby, ator e encenador, que aos sessenta anos decide abandonar o teatro, mudar-se para uma aldeia inglesa e comprar uma casa (com uma torre Martello) junto ao mar. Aqui pensa desfrutar de tranquilidade para escrever as suas memórias, comer bem e tomar banhos de mar. No entanto, acontecimentos inesperados vêm perturbar os planos de Charles. "O tempo pode divorciar-nos da realidade das pessoas e convertê-las em fantasmas. Ou antes, somos nós a convertê-las em fantasmas ou demónios. Certo tipo de obsessões estéreis pelo passado podem dar origem a tais simulacros, que podem exercer poderes, como aqueles heróis de Tróia que lutavam por uma Helena fantasma."(Ticiano - Perseus and Andromeda, 1556)Ler O Mar, O Mar é, como disse a escritora Ana Teresa Pereira, "entrar num mundo desconhecido, que não se parece com nada, e ao mesmo tempo é aquele em que vivemos."O Casamento, o Ciúme, a Velhice, a Solidão, a Morte, e tudo o que é trivial na vida, Iris Murdoch transforma em excepcional. García Marquez publicou O Amor nos Tempos de Cólera sete anos depois de O Mar, O Mar e eu diria que ele o leu, tanto a história de amor de Charles e Hartley me recordou a de Florentino e Fermina, com homens fiéis, durante dezenas de anos, ao primeiro amor. Mas Iris troca-nos as voltas, confunde-nos, perturba-nos, questiona-nos: "Quem é o nosso primeiro amor? Quem, na verdade?"O Mar, O Mar... foi um deslumbramento desde a primeira linha. Li a última página há vários dias e não consegui dá-lo por terminado. Reli algumas passagens; pesquisei sobre a vida de Iris; li A Tempestade; li resenhas e inventei interpretações e ligações que explicassem o que ficou em aberto. Este livro é daqueles que estimulam o leitor a ler mais além do que está escrito; a completar certas características das personagens e a encontrar sentido para alguns comportamentos que o narrador (Charles) desconhece, interpreta erradamente ou conta sobre o seu ponto de vista. O Mar, O Mar... para guardar, com muito carinho, na memória e na minha estante dos Livros Especiais."O tempo, tal como o mar, desata todos os nós."(Gustave Courbet - The Wave, 1869)

  • Gemma
    2019-06-15 02:11

    A fabulous investigation into ego and vanity and sexual stalking. Charles Arrowby, a theatre director, retires to a tower by the sea in order to be close to his childhood sweetheart. The novel is narrated by Arrowby himself, who has decided to write his memoirs. Murdoch has created a brilliant unreliable narrator in Arrowby and we, as readers, are forever straining to read between his lines. When he sets out to destroy the marriage of his childhood sweetheart the novel takes on the allure of a thriller. Arrowby is like an inverted 20th century Prospero, blinded by narcissism and a bullying predisposition to control everyone within his sphere of influence. My favourite Iris Murdoch novel.

  • notgettingenough
    2019-05-29 04:19

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  • Dhanaraj Rajan
    2019-06-12 05:23

    First Impression:As my GR friend Jean said this is a weird book. Why is it weird?1. It is not a typical fiction. It tries to bridge both fiction and biography together. The novel begins with the intention of the main character - writing a memoir. It continues in this stream and suddenly the memoir takes the turn of fictional events and the reader gets enclosed in it. And the end, when the fiction part seems to be ending the memoir part comes up again and acts as the concluding part. The writer tries to give the reader that the taste of both fiction and reality.2. It is a novel about some philosophical questions. It is a bridge between the philosophy and fiction. What is the final salvation? Is it the complete detachment from all attachments? Interestingly one of the main characters in the novel is a believer in Buddhist philosophy. If complete detachment is the sign of Nirvana, then where do we place the fact of love? Can one stop loving the other? If not, can loving other not considered as attachment? On the other hand if one succeeds in completely detaching himself/herself from even loving the other, will that life on earth be equal to death? All these questions are raised in the novel. The philosophical musings found in the novel can be at times tiring to the mind.3. It is a novel about some moral questions. It is a novel that speaks of a bridge between morality and a happy life. Can morality and moral values decide one's happiness? The author seems to be saying in a subtly way, yes. The moral degradation can act as a serpent that can torment you with its poisonous bites at the end of your life span. What to do? Try doing simple acts of goodness. Try changing the serpent monster into harmless sea-seals.4. It is a deep analysis of the vice, jealousy and irrational obsession. Jealousy and its incarnations in life are very well analysed through characters and the actions of the important characters. In the same line, the novel also makes clear the harmful effects an obsession can bring to a person and to those around him. 5. Time is the great healer. Time makes us change perspectives. Time helps us to see through our earlier foolish mistakes. Time makes us realise that we had been simple fools obsessed with wanton things or vanity. Only time can help us see everything clearly. But then, we had to go through the ordeal till time passes and brings us to the future peak from where the vision of past can be seen with calming effects.

  • Lavinia
    2019-06-04 05:25

    Truth be told, I was scared of the book. Scared of its length, scared I might not like it enough to finish it (I'm very frustrated when I can't finish books - I always feel it's my fault).Thank goodness Murdoch really knows how to write, I actually loved reading "The Bell" a couple of years ago and I promised myself I'd keep on reading Murdoch. But I never knew which one to continue with, and, yes, I was scared of their length :). And I chose this one because it was mentioned in a really nice interview with Murdoch's translator into Romanian and her friend for 25 years.What's new here (possibly in some of her other novels too, no idea!) is that Murdoch writes from a man's perspective (Charles Arrowby, retired theatre figure in his sixties). Some say she did that because she wanted to write like a man / be treated like a male writer. Seriously? The woman had published about 18 novels before this one, one would think she must have tried that already, don't you think?I both loved and hated Charles throughout the novel. Of course he's self-absorbed / self-deluded / obsessed / despotic but he cooks the lightest and most rustic meals ever, he's in deep love with cheese and wine and he doesn't mind living a secluded life in his isolated, rusty house near the sea. There are a lot of things going on, which disturb Charles' peace and quiet; past and present mingling together, twisting with his mind, playing tricks on him, friends who love and loathe him equally. Not one thing that was in a certain state at the beginning remains the same at the end. Well, maybe the sea. Buuut, I would have loved the book even if Murdoch hadn't done anything else but describing Charles every day, cooking, sipping wine, going swimming and mending his house - this is how much I liked it. By the way, if a director thinks about turning the book into a film, I hope they'd consider Alan Rickman for Charles' part.P.S. Really nice portrayal of the characters - James Arrowby deserves an entire novel to himself!

  • Lubinka Dimitrova
    2019-06-19 07:13

    Definitely not my cup of tea. The ramblings of a completely self-absorbed, delusional and unbearably verbose person left me absolutely indifferent. I forced myself to finish it, because I'm a sucker for self-punishment, and also because I hoped for an unimaginable twist at the finish line that would make it all worth it, but I was left none the wiser, if you don't count the bizarre self-inflicted death (not suicide though) that came out of the blue. I suppose the author should be considered very talented, after being able to fill pages upon pages with what was essentially the same ideas, over and over again.I do hope that my next readings this year will turn out to be more satisfying...

  • Steve
    2019-05-28 02:24

    Back in the 80s, both my wife and I read a number of Iris Murdoch novels. We always enjoyed them, but looking back, they're not exactly the kind of novels you remember much about. They were all similar. Usually they involved several friends (academics or artists or both) thrown together over something, some cheating, love, jealousy, funny dialogue, and usually a tragedy to cap things off. Books I recall liking the best: The Black Prince, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, and The Bell. The Bell (an early effort), I vaguely recall liking the best. I couldn't tell you why, though I do recall it being shorter and more to the point, and that at the time I felt I should read more of her earlier novels. Weirdly, neither of us read her Booker Prize winning The Sea, The Sea. It's a good novel, but a long one. It tells the story (told in the first person) of recently retired actor and theater director Charles Arrowby. Arrowby has recently purchased a strange, vaguely sinister house by the sea. It makes little noises and creaks at night, has a bizarre windowless red room at its center, and no electricity. He has started to settle into the life of recluse. Swimming every day, making simple meals, enjoying the sun, writing his observations of the sea, and recalling bits and pieces of his life, and his previous lovers. One day, while looking at the water, he sees a sea serpent, complete with looping black coils and green eyes, break the surface of the sea. This event is quite upsetting because it is so concrete and real. Arrowby doesn't know what to make of it, and is reluctant to mention it. In Murdoch's world, all of this stuff (red room, the sea, the serpent, etc.) is saturated with symbolic meaning (and lots of Shakespeare). Still, no reason to get bogged down since Murdoch is a frothy writer who keeps you laughing while she pulls you into something deeper and darker. Arrowby of course has a huge ego, and the serpent is clear warning of the man's raging jealousies, which soon will concentrate on the figure of his long lost and recently rediscovered teenage love, Hartley. Hartely is older, heavier ("bearded" one character calls her) , and married to an unpleasant, probably abusive husband. She's unhappy, but she's also not exactly enthusiastic about meeting Charles again. Even though Charles remembers her as magical and "fey," she remembers Charles as being "bossy." What you think about the novel will probably sink or swim with how you view Charles' obsession with saving Hartely (who he views as a sort of Beatrice), which goes on for a few hundred pages. There are other characters, other dilemmas, spiraling out from Charles' insane pursuit of Hartley, some of them quite funny, some not. But the Hartely thing does wear on you. (Late in the book I felt I might barf if I ever heard her name again.) That said, the story does rally toward the end, with some expected turns involving Charles' mystical cousin, James. Overall, the novel is something of a meditation on aging and memory. It's interesting that Murdoch, who was in her late 50s when she wrote The Sea, The Sea, was also close to the age of Arrowby (60). This was also interesting for me, at age 58, and my reading, which kept me going through the seemingly endless"Hartley" portion of the novel. (I don't know if my patience would have held out if I was reading back in the 80s.) I'm glad I hung on, because The Sea, The Sea has much more to offer than the "bearded" lady.

  • Meike
    2019-06-07 04:32

    This 1978 Booker winner manages to feel both completely contrived and compulsively readable. With protagonist Charles Arrowby, a famous theatre director, playwright and actor who retires to live at the seaside, Iris Murdoch created a fascinating, self-centered, narcissistic character who is completely caught up in his own perceptions and way of thinking. Narrated from Arrowby's point of view in a memoir-like style, we experience his ruthless, funny, and self-righteous actions and justifications - and he becomes the center of gravity and pretty much the only factor in the whole story that does feel real.In the course of the story he is visited by numerous of his artist frenemies, former lovers, and his cousin James, each of them mainly functioning as a mirror to reflect Arrowby and as a means to dive deeper into his past and his psyche. The most important person he re-encounters is certainly his first love Hartley - meeting her sets in motion a whole chain of events, rooted in Arrowby's conviction that they have always been destined to be together, while the reader is constantly aware that Arrowby's love is mainly defined by an egotistical, manic streak. The whole effect of all those meetings is like a house of mirrors: The reasons for and sequence of visits as well as the workings of chance encounters feel absolutely contrived, everything and everybody revolves around Arrowby. At some point, I started to wonder whether these other characters actually existed, or whether Arrowby was simply haunted by ghosts - and there are some potentially super-natural events that take place in the course of the story. Is it Arrowby's subconsciousness? His guilt? The alcohol? Who knows! There is only one other character that operates with the same fierceness as Arrowby himself: The sea. So as a whole, this book works very well as a character study, and not although, but because Arrowby is a terrible person, it is great fun to follow him through the story. Nevertheless, the novel felt a little lengthy for me, and I am also not sure whether I got enough diverse thoughts and ideas out of it compared to other Booker winners.

  • David
    2019-06-11 23:19

    This is another one for the "What were they thinking?!?" shelf. Doubly so, in fact. It's not just another lapse by the Booker selection committee, whose judgements we already know to take with a large grain of salt. But to be let down so abominably by Dame Iris, someone we know is capable of writing interestingly, though sometimes at the expense of prolixity. Regrettably, in "The Sea, The Sea" we see her giving free rein to her multiple vices, with little of the compensatory acuity that is there in some of her earlier books.Poor writing choices all around. Or at least none that favors the hapless reader. So we are treated to the first person narrative of a monomaniacal narcissist. One who is delusional (sea-serpents haunt him when he swims) and who seems intent on tormenting us with the weird details of every bizarre meal he fixes for himself in his crumbling 'squalid to a degree only an English person would tolerate' surroundings. This kind of thing:"Felt a little depressed but was cheered up by supper: spaghetti with a little butter and dried basil. (Basil is of course the king of herbs.) Then spring cabbage cooked slowly with dill. Boiled onions served with bran, herbs, soya oil and tomatoes, with one egg beaten in. With these a slice or two of cold tinned corned beef. (Meat is really just an excuse for eating vegetables.) I drank a bottle of retsina in honour of the undeserving rope."i don't know about you, but a few paragraphs of this kind of drivel brings me to the end of my rope. Even if I could forgive Dame Iris and her editors for the astonishingly boring catalog of the dietary whims of a narcissist, those parenthetical comments ("basil is of course ...) are quite simply unpardonable.Forty pages in. Not another character in sight? Righty-ho, then! Time to bale. Or bail. In the words of a more talented reviewer than I: "This is not a book to be put aside lightly. It should be thrust aside with great force. "In some hideous corner of the library of the damned, a doomed subcommittee is being forced to weigh the question: "The sea, The sea" represents a more shameless crime against innocent readers than "The infinities"; discuss.Iris, Iris, Iris.... How the mighty are fallen.

  • Ebtihal Abuali
    2019-05-29 03:36

    الدروس المستفادة من هذه الرواية:١- الزواج يدمر حياتك٢- التقاعد يدمر حياتكوهي رواية مهمة جدا لمن يرغب بالشفاء من الحب الأول.اعتقد ان اسم منزل (شراف إند) الذي تدور الاحداث فيه مرادف ل (بيت المجانين) في ترجمة ما.واذا انتقلنا للمراجعة الجادة فهي تبدأ هنا:أنها رواية جميلة جدا اذا استطعت ان تتجاوز ثرثرة تشارلز في فصل "ما قبل التاريخ"، وهو فصل بارد ومشتت وممل يجعلك تفكر ان تضع الكتاب جانبا لولا أن السرد ليس سيئا بالمرة، لكنك تكتشف لاحقا أن هذا الفصل له أهمية كبيرة لأنه يعطيك الاساس الذي شكل الحياة العاطفية لتشارلز.تخوض الرواية في العلاقات العاطفية أو (الحب) من وجهة نظر تشارلز، وفي حين أنها تبدأ باعلان تقاعده وانتقاله الى عزلة القرية البحرية وبيت الأشباح الذي لا يعرفه أحد "شراف إند"، لكنها تزدحم فجأة بالشخصيات النسائية، العشيقات السابقات، والعشّاق أيضا! وهكذا نجد أنفسنا في وسط كوميديا عاطفية من العلاقات المثلثة والمتداخلةأ يحب ب ب يحب جج يعلم الله من يحب أو إن كان يعرف الحب أصلا!لكن أبرز هذه العلاقات والتي تبلغ معها القصة ذروة اثارتها هي المحبوبة القديمة لتشارلز من أيام الطفولة، تلك التي ضاعت منه مرة في الشباب، والآن في شيخوختهما يلتقي بها بضربة حظ، ويسعى بجنون "حرفيا" لاستعادتها. ان هذه الرواية تكشف نوعا فريدا من ما يسميه الناس الحب، مما يمتلأون بالقناعة بصدقه، وأهميته لهم، حتى عندما كانوا يعيشون سعداء بدونه أربعين عاما. نرى الحب والشغف مختلطان بالهوس والجنون والأنانية والغيرة، ونراقب تشارلز يعبر من هدوء الحياة الى عاصفة العاطفة. أسلوب السرد يعتمد على الوصف الشاعري الخارجي المفصّل لكل مكان ولكل شيء حتى يعطيك الاحساس بالمكان، وهو أيضا يغوص في عمق أفكار ومشاعر تشارلز (الراوي) ببراعة. شعرت بايقاع الحدث كأمواج البحر التي تشكل بيئة الرواية، تنخفض حينا وترتفع حينا، وبدت كالموسيقى. لقد استمتعت بوجودي هناك في بيت شراف اند بقرب البحر. هناك نفس عال من السخرية والكوميديا في الرواية وهي تدفعك للضحك في مقاطع عديدة. وكأن كل ما سبق لا يكفي، تضيف مردوخ لروايتها جانبا ميتافيزيقيا بترك بعض المسائل عالقة في غموض احتمالات ما وراء الطبيعة. حازت الرواية على البوكر ومن المؤكد أني سأعطيها البوكر أيضا لو سألوني.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-06-13 07:36

    I bought this book from Booksale Baguio in April 2009 for P30. After reading the book, I thought I would not mind paying P800.00 to read such a wonderful novel. This is included in the 501 Must Read Books and a finalist in Man Booker Prize.I like the way Dame Iris Murdoch developed her characters and the way she introduced them in the plot. I read this in 5 working days (Monday to Friday) and did most of the readings a home (some in the gym while resting). In the morning, I put the book by my side and while driving in the morning's traffic, I think about what I read the night before. It's like running the images in my mind again and thinking of what will happen next. It is like I am watching a telenovela and it was made possible by Dame Iris Murdoch because of her vivid and suspenseful approach in storytelling. The way she described the sceneries and even the food is just engaging.The story is about Charles Arrowby and the narrative is in a journal form. Charles is a retired stage actor/director who retreated to the seaside after retirement. When I was in the first few pages, I got confused because I thought that the narrator is female (because Dame Iris Murdoch is female). It is just surprising to read a woman reading in male's perspective (sans the usual melodramatic approach of most female writers). Of course with the exception of Nicholas Sparks a male author who is a male drama queen!One little disappointment (although not enough to deduct a star from the rating) I have about the novel is the reason given by Charles Arrowby on how he accepted his passion to get back Hartley or Mary. "One can be too ingenious in trying to search out the truth. Sometimes one must simply respect its veiled face. Of course this is a love story. She was not able to be my Beatrice nor was I able to be savedby her, but the idea was not senseless or unworthy.... The past buries the past and must end in silence, but it can be a conscious silence that rests open-eyed. Perhaps this is the final forgiveness that James spoke of."These lines appear on pp 502 which is the third to the last page of the book. Just about 5 sentences that explained the obsession that Charles Arrowby showed in almost all the pages of the book since she met Hartley again after so many years upon graduation from high school. At some point, I thought that it was just crazy (Charles Arrowby was trying to bring back his virility since he could not accept being old) and Hartley was just a lunatic. But these were not the main messages at all. It was about undying love and forgiveness.In 2002, I saw the movie IRIS starring Kate Winslet (the young version) and Judy Dench (old version) and when I saw the book I picked it up right away because I like the movie. Dame Iris Murdoch got Alzheimer's Disease. In the movie, she lost her mind, would not recognize his partner-lover and would not clean her house and herself. It was a well-acted movie for a well-respected literary master.Bravo, Dame Iris Murdoch!

  • Ellinor
    2019-06-02 23:33

    Iris Murdoch war lange Zeit fast in Vergessenheit geraten, nun veröffentlicht der Piper Verlag ihre wichtigsten Werke in einer Neuauflage. Und was für eine sensationelle Wiederentdeckung!Es ist schwer zu beschreiben, was Das Meer, Das Meer nun eigentlich ist, denn es besteht aus so vielen Elementen: eine verlorene und vermeintlich wiedergefundene Liebe; seltsame, beinahe unerklärliche Ereignisse; eine Entführung; ein unerwartetes und unglaublich komisches Zusammentreffen; Einsamkeit im Alter... und natürlich das Meer. Liest man dies hier, so könnte man meinen, dass der Roman völlig überfrachtet ist. Doch alles andere ist der Fall: er ist wunderbar zu lesen und jedesmal, wenn sich die Geschichte (und vor allem Charles Arrowby, der Erzähler) festzufahren scheinen, nimmt die Handlung eine völlig unerwartete Wendung. Ich bin einfach nur überwältigt von diesem Buch und kann es nur wärmstens empfehlen!

  • julieta
    2019-05-29 04:08

    Murdoch´s characters are never likable people, they are usually, childish, selfish, obsessive and awful and you can hardly like them at all. But that is what makes her novels so fun. She always knows how to tangle you up in their troubles, lies, betrayals, and tragedies, their ambivalence and doubt,and she gets me at every turn. Charles Arrowby, the main character in this book is no better than any of them. He is en egotist who is impossible to sympathize with because his troubles seem so banal. His obsession with his childhood sweetheart got to be a bit much, and at moments it seemed to drag the story in the wrong direction. But Murdoch makes it work in a way that makes me want to stay on until the end, because of the way she tells it. This book is not my favorite of hers, but she is such a great novelist that I will keep reading her until I get to the last of her many wonderful books. "Upon the demon-ridden pilgrimage of human life , what next I wonder"... I wonder indeed.

  • Laura
    2019-06-23 05:27

    From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:Jeremy Irons stars Iris Murdoch's 1978 Booker prize winning novel, dramatised by Robin Brooks - as part of the Iris Murdoch season on BBC Radio 4.Episode 1 (of 2):Charles Arrowby, a distinguished theatre-director, decides to retire to a remote house by the sea in order to write his memoirs.Episode 2 (of 2):Charles Arrowby, a distinguished theatre director, has retired to a remote house by the sea. After encountering his adolescent love, he sets out on a mission to reclaim her and, in so doing, redeem the misdemeanours of his past. But a young man appears with a mission of his own.Sound Design: Wilfredo AcostaProducer: Fiona McAlpineDirector: Bill AlexanderAn Allegra production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-06-17 02:17

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]Description:The sea: turbulent and leaden, transparent and opaque, magician and mother... When Charles Arrowby, over sixty, a demi god of the theatre -- director, playwright and actor -- retires from his glittering London world in order to 'abjure magic and become a hermit', it is to the sea that he turns. He hopes at least to escape from 'the woman' -- but unexpectedly meets one whom he loved long ago. His buddhist cousin, James, also arrives. he is menaced by a monster from the deep. Charles finds his 'solitude' peopled by the drama of his own fantasies and obsessions. comes from a R4 - two one-hour episodes:BBC Description: Jeremy Irons stars in Iris Murdoch's 1978 Booker prize winning novel, dramatised by Robin Brooks - as part of the Iris Murdoch season on BBC Radio 4. Episode 1 (of 2): Charles Arrowby, a distinguished theatre-director, decides to retire to a remote house by the sea in order to write his memoirs. Episode 2/2: After encountering his adolescent love, Arrowby sets out on a mission to reclaim her and, in so doing, redeem the misdemeanours of his past. But a young man appears with a mission of his own.5* The Sea, The SeaTR Under the Net5* The Bell5* A Severed Head5* The Black Prince5* A Word Child5* The Sacred and Profane Love Machine4* Existentialists and Mystics Writings on Philosophy and LiteratureTR The Nice and the Good["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Alison
    2019-05-29 23:30

    I was wary about reading Murdoch again after Under the Net, which I didn’t enjoy at all. This one had everything that I love in life and don’t often find united in a novel: elaborate planning for simple tasty lunches; the English seaside; ludicrous and highly improbable action (a sea monster? Can anything more awesome possibly show up in a heretofore realist novel?); and a lot of thought about how to be good and how to love.One of my favorite things about this novel was the narrator’s kvetching about how the young make wild and empty judgments about other people’s self-interest. Additional Thoughts on The Sea, The Sea at:!