Iris Murdoch's first novel is set in a part of London where struggling writers rub shoulders with successful bookies, and film starlets with frantic philosophers. Its hero, Jake Donaghue, is a drifting, clever, likeable young man who makes a living out of translation work and sponging on his friends. A meeting with Anna, an old flame, leads him into a series of fantastic adventures. Jake is captivated by a majestic philosopher, Hugo Belfounder, whose profound and inconclusive reflections give the book its title - Under The Net of language.
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. In 1948 she returned to Oxford where she became a fellow of St Anne's college.
Her first published novel, Under The Net, was selected in 2001 by the editorial board of the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. She died in February 1999
"Under the Net announces the emergence of a brilliant talent" - Times Literary Supplement
"A brilliant book about language and its inability to express certain things" - John Nettles, Daily Express
"Of all the novelists that have made their bow since the war she seems to me to be the most remarkable-behind her books one feels a power of intellect quite exceptional in a novelist" - Sunday Times
"A dazzling story, light and comic in touch" - The Times
"Iris Murdoch has imposed her alternative world on us as surely as Christopher Columbus or Graham Greene" - Sunday Times
"This is a comedy with that touch of ferocity about it which makes for excitement" -
"Immensely readable-Miss Murdoch is blessedly clever without any of the aridity which, for some reason, that word is supposed to imply" -
"Under the Net is a winner, a thoroughly accomplished first novel...Miss Murdoch's control of her material is completely assured. She is a distinguished novelist of a rare kind" - Kingsley Amis, Spectator
Iris Murdoch has gained most publicity in recent times for her descent into Alzheimer's, chronicled by her husband John Bayley and the subsequent film. The welcome republication of this, her first novel, serves as a timely reminder of exactly why she originally became a household name. Under the Net works brilliantly on three levels: as a superb evocation of time and place (London in the 1950s); as an entertaining, well-plotted romp among the demi-monde of the time; and, more seriously, as an exploration of the power of language and philosophy. Jake Donaghue is a likeable, feckless young intellectual whose talent for translating obscure French authors is matched only by his ability to live rent-free, mainly at the expense of a succession of girlfriends. When his current 'landlady' accepts a proposal of marriage from a wealthy bookmaker, Jake renews his acquaintance with an old flame, a glamorous but melancholy actress, Anna, and her film-star sister. Their contacts soon plunge him into an absurd sequence of adventures, mainly involving an elderly canine movie star, but all the while he is haunted by his memories of an old friend, whose musings he once passed off as his own, achieving minor fame as the author of a slim volume of philosophy. His quest for forgiveness coincides with his resolution to make his own way in the world, and so Jake achieves redemption - of a kind. This is more than just a charming period piece: it is a sharp, well-crafted and affectionate novel that serves as the perfect introduction to the work of one of our greatest modern writers. (Kirkus UK)
Series: Vintage Classics Ser.
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 19th January 2002
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.211