|Iris Murdoch around the time of the peak of career|
To an uneducated person such as myself, Jackson's Dilemma seems simpler than her other novels, but still, perfectly good fiction. I am enjoying Jackson's Dilemma and find myself engrossed in the story, but apparently, at the time of its publication, Murdoch's regular readers were disappointed. The New York Times review says that the story is good, but the writing is "a mess" and lists all the places where Murdoch used redundant or trite phrases. My perception isn't as nuanced as that of a professional book reviewer, but there were some passages in which I thought, "Oh dear..."
Anyway, this post isn't about Jackson's Dilemma, but about the project to read all of Murdoch's novels. I never found reading Murdoch to be a chore, but her novels will stretch your intellectual ability. You are rewarded with her humor, her engrossing, sometimes suspenseful plots, and the glorious descriptions of her characters and their surroundings, particularly their houses. And the dogs! The best dogs in literature live in Iris Murdoch novels. If you are a dog person, you must read Iris Murdoch.
Of Iris Murdoch's novels, my favorites were:
- The Bell
- Under the Net
- A Severed Head
- The Unicorn
- The Red and the Green
- The Nice and the Good
- An Accidental Man
- The Black Prince
- A Word Child
- The Book and the Brotherhood
- The Green Knight
I read some of these so long ago, I can't quite remember why I loved them the most, but my life has been immeasurably enriched by this project.
I have a couple of other "projects" going on. I'm reading all of Elizabeth Jane Howard's novels, all of Angela Thirkell's, and there's the fifty classics project. (I'm supposed to read fifty classic novels within five years. I'm now just over three years into it, and I've completed only twenty-four, but that includes some heavy hitters like The Brothers Karamazov, Crime & Punishment, War & Peace, and a whole lot of Faulkner. There are lighter things further down the list, so I may make my goal.) What about you? Do you ever create reading projects for yourself?