Iris Murdoch's fables of unselfing

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University of Missouri Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 199 pages
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Like Jane Austen and Henry James, but also like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Simone Weil, Iris Murdoch is a keen student of those egoistic obsessions that cloud our moral understanding. In Iris Murdoch's Fables of Unselfing, David J. Gordon probes more deeply and comprehensively than any previous critic the intellectual energies, and the ethical imperative of "unselfing," that inform her fiction.
Gordon contends that the term fable best describes the kind of novel Murdoch writes because in each a mythmaking purpose interacts with a commitment to realism, shaping the erotic life of fictional characters into a spiritual pilgrimage on which they struggle, more or less unsuccessfully, to overcome the self-centeredness that keeps them away from the Good.
The most original element in the fiction, Gordon argues, is not its striking modernization of Plato or its adaptations of nineteenth-century influences, but its intensely creative struggle with Freud. In developing his analysis of her themes, Gordon draws on Murdoch's work from throughout her forty-year career, showing how each novel grew out of its predecessors and in what ways each is original.

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introduction Fables of Unselfing
two Paths to the Good

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About the author (1995)

David J. Gordon is Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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