6 feb. 2008


Iris Murdoch. The Sea, Sea. 1978.

Cringeworthy exposition for 80 pages before anything happens: "I will now describe the physical appearance of this character." "I will now tell you what happened next." That kind of thing. The narrator whose diary we are reading is not supposed to be a professional novelist, but a little bit of this clumsiness would have gone a long way to suggest this. He is supposed to a playwright.

The plot and characters also provoke embarrassment from the reader. The arrogant cluelessness of the self-involved narrator-protagonist. The contrived plot-twists. I've never felt such vergüenza ajena reading a novel. It sucks you in and repels you at the same time.

She does keep you guessing about what's going to happen, and the characters' unpleasantness is a kind of tour de force in its own right. I won't be reading any more Murdoch for a while. The Sandcastle was better than this.

Moral of the story: people like to be unhappy. Happiness is a delusion leading to disaster.

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