Swinging between his wife and his mistress in the sacred and profane love machine and between the charms of morality and the excitements of sin, the psychotherapist, Blaise Gavender, sometimes wishes he could divide himself in two. Instead, he lets loose misery and confusion and—for the spectators at any rate—a morality play, rich in reflections upon the paradoxes of human life and the nature of the battle between sacred and profane love.
About the Author
Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) was born in Dublin and brought up in London. She studied philosophy at Cambridge and was a philosophy fellow at St. Anne's College for 20 years. She published her first novel in 1954 and was instantly recognized as a major talent. She went on to publish more than 26 novels, as well as works of philosophy, plays, and poetry.
What People are Saying About This
A novel of infinite variety and intelligence; the work of a novelist at the height of her powers.
“A novel of infinite variety and intelligence; the work of a novelist at the height of her powers.”—Christopher Hudson
“[Iris Murdoch] remains a consummate and sensual scene-painter.”—Michael Ratcliffe in The Times (London)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Murdoch is a terrific writer--this was the smoothest, most elegant writing I've encountered in a while now that I'm not in English anymore and I'm slumming in most of my pleasure reading. The first few pages drew me into this tangled mess of a machine right away and I was happy to have this volume in my purse on a cross-country flight. But Harriet's fate and the near-complete disregard of so many people for her nauseated me. I feel like there might be really brilliant connections and hidden meanings here, but by the time I got to the end I was too perturbed to want to dig them out. The "love machine" made several leitmotif appearances, as it maneuvered its victims, but still not any too clear or necessary to the story.
Compared to the other Murdoch novels I've read, 'The Bell' and 'The Green Knight,' 'The Sacred and Profane Love Machine' is not as well constructed. It concludes with a deus ex machina device which is rather transparent. Other than that, the novel is excellent. Murdoch has created a cast of mostly despicable characters, but has depicted them well, with scrutiny and depth. The characters are short on self-knowledge, but that is their fault, not Murdoch's. Her psychological novelist's style is admirably suited to the subject matter, surprises abound, and flashes of her wit and humor show through.