Marian Taylor, who has come as a 'companion' to a lonely woman in a remote castle, becomes aware that her employer is a prisoner, not only of her own obsessions, but of an unforgiving husband. Hannah, the Unicorn, seeminly an image of persecuted virtue, fascinates those who surround her, some of whom plan to rescue her from her dream of redemptive suffering. But is she an innocent victim, a guilty woman, a mad woman, or a witch?
About the Author
Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She went to Badminton School, Bristol, and read classics at Somerville College, Oxford. During the war she was an Assistant Principal at the Treasury, and then worked with UNRRA in London, Belgium and Austria. She held a studentship in Philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge, and then in 1948 she returned to Oxford where she became a Fellow of St Anne's College. Until her death in February 1999, she lived with her husband, and teacher and critic John Bayley, in Oxford. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. In the 1997 PEN Awards she received the Gold Pen for Distinguished Service to Literature. Since her writing debut in 1954 with Under the Net, Iris Murdoch has written twenty-six novels, including the Booker Prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978) and most recently The Green Knight (1993) and Jackson's Dilemma 91995). Other literary awards include the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974). Her works of philosophy include Sartre: Romantic Rationalist, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992) and Existentialists and Mystics (1997). She has written several plays including The Italian Girl (with James Saunders) and The Black Prince, adapted from her novel of the same name. Her volume of poetry, A Year of Birds, which appeared in 1978, has been set to music by Malcolm Williamson.
Suggestions of the supernatural which played a part in one of the earlier Iris Murdoch novels, The Flight from the Enchanter, again appear here and the ??himera of a more pagan world lend their flickering fascination to a fable of freedom and bondage. Captive here is another sorceress, a lovely, lost princesse ??intaine in Gaze Castle, Hannah Crean- Smith whose husband has been away for even years, the ritual number. Marian Taylor, thirty-ish, recovering from an unfortunate romance, comes to Gaze as Hannah's companion and joins her retinue of retainers in an aimless but anxious existence: there is her bailiff-keeper, Gerald Scottow; her dour chatelaine and her brother, homosexually involved with Scottow; and nearby, the neutered but admiring Effingham who assists Marian in ?? first, failing attempt to free Hannah. The uncertain attachments within the castle are matched by the lowering landscape without, where the coastal cliffs are lashed by the sea. Finally it is Marian who helps to liberate Hannah- the escape which can only be to another world... Beneath the sommabalistic shadowplay here, this is perhaps an allegory of possession, real and unreal, other-worldly and earthly, and it is an imaginative fantasia. Miss Murdoch is an acquired taste- addictive too. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Vintage Classics Ser.
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st February 2001
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.288