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Posted May 6, 2002
Sometimes I like to read 2 novels at the same time. This time, I was reading 'A Room with a View' and 'The Black Prince'. I can tell you that I couldn't let go of 'The Black Prince'. Iris Murdoch was a writing genius. How could she be listed so far down in the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century beats me. She deserves every praise, not just as a female writer, but as a writer; period. Murdoch was so detailed in expressing through words the inner thoughts of the different characters; in this case the narrator's, who's a man (so again, Murdoch, being a woman, did an excellent job in analyzing the thoughts of a man). The way the narrator describes and interacts with the people arround him truly brings them to life. For instance, you can't help but feel pity for his sister b.c she has chosen materialism over love, and you can't help but sympathize with her b.c perhaps she was given little choice. Then there's the best friend who has chosen the path of being a popular writer than a true writer. Then there are segments explaining the differences in art (true art vs. popular art). And when he falls for his best friend's daughter who's twice her junior, even though it's a disgusting thought, you believe him when he says he felt love for her. And what took me by surprise was the whole analysis on Shakespeare being gay!! (actually, you begin to wonder if the narrator himself is gay as well!!) Considering how hard it is already to dig into someone's psyche, Murdoch does this so effortlessly, so flawlessly and so magnificently. Whether the 'Black Prince' is a must read or not is up to the individual. However, if you appreciate literature, Iris Murdoch is a must. Her novels differentiate literature from popular fiction. And it's good to start with either 'The Black Prince' or 'A Severed Head' before you dig into more complex Murdoch themes.
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