The Good Apprentice [NOOK Book]

Overview

Edward Baltram is overwhelmed with guilt. His nasty little prank has gone horribly wrong: He has fed his closest friend a sandwich laced with a hallucinogenic drug and the young man has fallen out of a window to his death. Edward searches for redemption through a reunion with his famous father, the reclusive painter Jesse Baltram. Funny and compelling, The Good Apprentice is at once a supremely sophisticated entertainment and an inquiry into ...
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The Good Apprentice

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Overview

Edward Baltram is overwhelmed with guilt. His nasty little prank has gone horribly wrong: He has fed his closest friend a sandwich laced with a hallucinogenic drug and the young man has fallen out of a window to his death. Edward searches for redemption through a reunion with his famous father, the reclusive painter Jesse Baltram. Funny and compelling, The Good Apprentice is at once a supremely sophisticated entertainment and an inquiry into the spiritual crises that afflict the modern world.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For openers, there's murder, a tough act to follow. But Murdoch, veteran of 21 novels and a recipient of a Booker among other literary prizes, plunges undismayed into the dense, tortured history of Edward Baltram. As a lark, Edward has drugged a sandwich and served it to his best friend and fellow student Mark Wilsden, then gone off to pleasure himself with a casually met young woman; he returns to find Mark's shattered body on the pavement below the window of their shared lodging. At a seance, attended in desperation, he receives a summons to Seegard, the turreted stronghold of Jesse Baltram, whose bastard he is and who long ago abandoned him. There, greeted ony by Jesse's wife May and his two daughters, who assure Edward that Jesse will soon return, he sets out to find the father on whom the wild force of his austerely repressed love is now concentrated. Just after Jesse is discovered, a senile prisoner in a tower of his own house, Edward's stepfather Harry Cuno stumbles by chance into Seegard with Edward's aunt Midge, sister of his dead mother, once Harry's wife. Until that moment only the reader has been privy to the lovemaking carried on at Midge's house when her psychiatrist husband, Harry's closest friend, is in his office, at Harry's when his son and stepson Stuart are away. Now portents and poltergeists are released in good earnest: Was Midge the agent of her sister's death? Whose face does Edward see in the water? Is May poisoning the father and the son? Was Mark's love for Edward homosexual? It is a measure of the author's skill that despite the contrivances, coincidences, psychic dabbling and all-but-incestuous trafficking, the reader's involvement with the huge cast never diminishes, nor does attention to their wit and philosophical exchanges flag. The strands of several novels on many levels are here densely woven together, and if the knots are tied too patly, it is nonetheless a joy to watch the pattern emerge. 25,000 first printing. U.K. rights: Chatto & Windus; translation rights: Ed Victor. January
Elaine Feinstein
Iris Murdoch is here very much at her formidable, myth-making best; inventive, comic, moving. -- The Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101495704
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/1/2001
  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 340,726
  • File size: 584 KB

Meet the Author

Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the most acclaimed British writers of the twentieth century. Very prolific, she wrote twenty-six novels, four books of philosophy, five plays, a volume of poetry, a libretto, and numerous essays before developing Alzheimer's disease in the mid-1990s. Her novels have won many prizes: the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Black Prince, the Whitbread Literary Award for Fiction for The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, and the Booker Prize for The Sea, The Sea. She herself was also the recipient of many esteemed awards: Dame of the Order of the British Empire, the Royal Society of Literature's Companion of Literature award, and the National Arts Club's (New York) Medal of Honor for Literature.

She was born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 15, 1919, the only child of Anglo-Irish parents. Her father was a bookish civil servant who had served as a cavalry officer during World War I; her mother had trained as an opera singer before marrying. The love of both literature and music instilled in her by her parents proved to be powerful formative influences, and she reportedly began writing at the age of nine. The family moved to London in Iris's childhood and she grew up in the western suburbs of Hammersmith and Chiswich. The 1940s saw Iris receive a first-class degree in classics from Oxford, briefly become a member of the Communist Party (from which she resigned in disappointment), work in Belgian and Austrian refugee camps for the United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Program, and befriend Jean-Paul Sartre, on whom she wrote what was to be her first published work, a critical study entitled Sartre: Romantic Rationalist (1953). In 1947 she took up a postgraduate studentship at Cambridge, studying philosophy under none other than Ludwig Wittgenstein. The fruits of these philosophical encounters went on to form an important part of her fertile talent as a novelist.

With three previous novels unpublished, Murdoch made her fiction-writing debut in 1954. Under the Net is a picaresque existentialist adventure set in London and Paris's Left Bank that displays many of the traits for which her later work is so admired: a fast-paced plot, finely wrought settings, imaginatively developed characters, and a strong philosophical concern with moral issues and ethical crises. Surpassing the somewhat derivative existentialist strictures of this nevertheless stunning debut, Murdoch published almost a novel per year throughout the 1950s, '60s, and '70s and continued at a slightly less feverish pace throughout the '80s and early '90s. With each book, she displayed her unique talent for combining a lively, comic touch in characterization and plot with a serious concern for such profound themes as the nature of goodness and human freedom. A novelist and philosopher rolled into one, Iris Murdoch declared in her famous essay "Against Dryness" (1961) that literature "has taken over some of the tasks formerly performed by philosophy." However, she never allowed her novels or her characters to become abstract stand-ins for philosophical viewpoints, asserting in the same essay that the novel should be "a fit house for free characters to live in."

Producing romances such as The Sandcastle (1957), religious fables such as The Bell (1958), and fantasies such as The Unicorn (1963), she ranged widely across genres and settings. A Severed Head (1961)later made into both a play and a filmtakes on Jungian archetypes and Freud's theories about masculine sexuality, while in The Red and the Green (1965), Murdoch, in her only foray into historical fiction, delved into the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Her calling cards became the intoxicating combination of love, marriage, adultery, sexuality, and religion, as well as the inventive use of gothic elements. In The Time of Angels (1966), for instance, the protagonist is an atheist Anglican priest in an impoverished inner-city parish who engages in black magicand through whom Murdoch explored the central question of the role of morality after the death of God.

From the 1970s into the 1990s, international acclaim and recognition coincided with the publication of some of her finest work, including an experimental novel of love gone mad, The Black Prince (1973), her popular and highly esteemed The Sea, The Sea (1978), and a Platonic investigation of morality, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992), one of her most acclaimed nonfiction writings. Her last novel, Jackson's Dilemma (1995),
was published just as Alzheimer's began to take its toll. She died in Oxford on February 8, 1999, survived by her husband, John Bayley.

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Table of Contents

I. The Prodigal Son II. Seegard III. Life After Death

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    Murdoch is amazing

    Don't be put off by the predictable horrendous 'accident' at the beginning of this story (as I nearly was). The Good Apprentice narrative continues on - richly suspenseful with fascinating, often crazed characters. Iris Murdoch's flowing, detailed descriptions of the characters' thoughts, problems, emotions, dialogue, households, nature's scenes and sounds seem to me exquisite, masterful, sometimes excruciating. I am enthralled --- and only halfway though the audio book. I must read/listen to more Murdoch novels.

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