The Book and the Brotherhood

( 2 )

Overview

A story about love and friendship and Marxism

Many years ago Gerard Hernshaw and his friends “commissioned” one of their number to write a political book.

Time passes and opinions change. “Why should we go on supporting a book which we detest?” Rose Curtland asks. “The brotherhood of Western intellectuals versus the book of history,” Jenkin Riderhood suggests. The theft of a wife further embroils the ...

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The Book and the Brotherhood

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Overview

A story about love and friendship and Marxism

Many years ago Gerard Hernshaw and his friends “commissioned” one of their number to write a political book.

Time passes and opinions change. “Why should we go on supporting a book which we detest?” Rose Curtland asks. “The brotherhood of Western intellectuals versus the book of history,” Jenkin Riderhood suggests. The theft of a wife further embroils the situation. Moral indignation must be separated from political disagreement.

Tamar Hernshaw has a different trouble and a terrible secret. Can one die of shame? In another quarter a suicide pact seems the solution. Duncan Cambus thinks that since it is a tragedy, someone must die. Someone dies. Rose, who has gone on loving without hope, at least deserves a reward.

Years ago, a group of friends bonded together to finance a political and philosophical book to be written by one of them. Now, amidst a midsummer ball at Oxford, a crisis occurs, and the vindictive ghosts of the past invade the present.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The opening scenes of this charged and potent novel, Murdoch's 23rd, are flooded with gaily bedizened dancers at an Oxford Midsummer Night's ball. Couples in Shakespearean disarray chase and lose one another through the gardens. Gradually, a design becomes visible in the dense, chaotic weave of a slowly gathering fictional world. A male and female ``brotherhood,'' bookishly inclined, give financial support to one of their number, the fanatic, red-haired, possibly mad writer Crimond. The friends worry about Crimond's mysterious, ongoing book. Is he a ``maverick Marxist,'' urging terrorism to revolutionize the world? Crimond, strangely attractive to both men and women, while scorning and exploiting the ``old dreamy continuum'' of the brotherhood (which resembles the human condition), seems evil incarnate. Jean adores him, however, and leaves her bear-like, devoted husband for him. The lovers are less hilariously depicted than the similarly self-glorifying adulterers in The Good Apprentice. Here the satire is somber, the sense of character both sinister and muffled. But religious myths, theatrics and games offer salvation in the rising spirit of glee that marks the novel's latter portion. The couples' joyous pairings and recovery of serene, humorous domesticity re-enact the solutions of dark comedy. Fertile in the arts of language, story and philosophy, Murdoch brilliantly entertains the robust reader. 35,000 first printing. (February)
Library Journal
Murdoch's long but moving 23rd novel follows a band of Oxford graduates who in their youth pledged monetary support to fellow student David Crimond to write a book of political philosophy. Now old age is approaching, none of the band has come to much, ``the book'' has yet to appear, and Crimond has turned out to be a moral and intellectual monster. There are fine set pieces here (a revelrous and finally sodden Oxford lawn party), but the novel's mood is chill. That Murdoch can work from the disaster and deceit at its center to a ``new space of peace and freedom'' is an inspiring achievement. Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id .
From the Publisher
   • "Iris Murdoch is incapable of writing without fascinating and beautiful colour." —The Times 

   • "Iris Murdoch was one of the best and most influential writers of the twentieth century." —Peter Conradi, The Guardian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140104707
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1989
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 926,035
  • Product dimensions: 5.05 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

IRIS MURDOCH was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She went to Badminton School, Bristol, and read classics at Somerville College, Oxford. In 1948 she returned to Oxford where she became a fellow of St Anne's college. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. She died in February 1999.

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Customer Reviews

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    Posted October 28, 2008

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