24 ene. 2008


The Sandcastle. Iris Murdoch, 1957.

Reading this is like watching a very clumsy-looking fighter take apart a smoother and supposedly more "correct" stylist. Murdoch signposts her plots, explains things too much, introduces jarring shifts of focalization. Then, just when you think she doesn't know what she's doing, Bam! There are some well-done dramatic scenes--the car going into the river; the rescue of the protagonist's son off the tower; the afterdinner speech by his wife that seals his fate. Murdoch manages to develop all the pieces of the plot so that it all works, even the more contrived elements. There needed to be more about Felicity, the psychic daughter. I didn't quite believe the young painter, Rain, falling in love with the middle-aged schoolteacher.

It's a "B-." If a major character has an ample bosom we shouldn't learn that 10 pages from the end. You don't have to explain who a character is after the first mention of that character in the first chapter, and do this several times in a row!

I wish it were more polished and modernist. Virginia Woolf she's not. But I will be reading more Murdoch. Last one I read was The Severed Head in about 1978, which I remember as better than this one.

1 comentario:

Matthew Thorburn dijo...

Great review. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you read -- and what you think of it. I read 100 books of poems a couple years ago and it was an interesting adventure. Good luck!