A Severed Head
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Severed Head by Iris Murdoch
Book DescriptionMartin Lynch-Gibbon believes he can possess both a beautiful wife and a delightful lover. But when his wife, Antonia, suddenly leaves him for her psychoanalyst, Martin is plunged into an intensive emotional re-education. He attempts to behave beautifully and sensibly. Then he meets a woman whose demonic splendour at first repels him and later arouses a consuming and monstrous passion. As his Medusa informs him, 'this is nothing to do with happiness'.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099285366
(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Aug-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Iris Murdoch
Living on Paper, Hardback (January 2017)
Originally published: London: Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Vintage, 2015.
Sea, the Sea & a Severed Head, Hardback (March 2016)
Traces the turbulent emotional journey of Martin Lynch-Gibbon, a smug, well-to-do London wine merchant and unfaithful husband, whose life is turned inside out when his wife leaves him for her psychoanalyst.
Sea, the Sea, Paperback (April 2015)» View all books by Iris Murdoch
When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage.
UK Kirkus Review » A wonderful black comedy which was turned into a play and also filmed. A group of London intellectuals living in an emotionless society find their primitive passions stirred into action by an intruder. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Witty and sophisticated, this novel is set among London fogs, and drawing rooms filled with too many objects d'art, and conversations, where six characters spin an over-civilized danse macabre of love and manners. The effect is chilling and absorbing.... Middle-aged Martin Lynch-Gibbon has a lovely, older wife, Antonia, and a young mistress, Georgie, an economics lecturer. Martin is rich- a dilettante wine merchant and historian. He is also completely, terrifyingly spineless. When Antonia announces she wishes to marry their analyst-friend Palmer, Martin- with gruesome passivity ("the gentleman") allows them to analyse him and their new relations, baby him, and re-arrange his new life. Soon Georgie, Martin's brother Alexander, and Palmer's sister, Honor Klein, are drawn into the situation. And the shifting emotions and love affairs, the relentlessly "understanding little talks", take on the queer, fascinating quality of group incest. The only person who stays aloof is Honor Klein. Strong, ugly, appearing only in critical moments to force the others into uglier truths, she soon acquires, for Martin, the terrible appeal of a goddess- of Medusa's severed head. In scene after shocking scene, the players are stripped of their illusions, altered, and finally go off to resume their lives elsewhere, on other terms, and with other, different members of the group. It is superbly done- and genuinely horrifying. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Iris Murdoch
Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919. She read Classics at Somerville College, Oxford, and after working in the Treasury and abroad, was awarded a research studentship in philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge. In 1948 she returned to Oxford as fellow and tutor at St Anne's College and later taught at the Royal College of Art. Until her death in 1999, she lived in Oxford with her husband, the academic and critic, John Bayley. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 and in the 1997 PEN Awards received the Gold Pen for Distinguished Service to Literature. Iris Murdoch made her writing debut in 1954 with Under the Net. Her twenty-six novels include the Booker prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978), the James Tait Black Memorial prize-winning The Black Prince (1973) and the Whitbread prize-winning The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974). Her philosophy includes Sartre: Romantic Rationalist (1953) and Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992); other philosophical writings, including The Sovereignty of Good (1970), are collected in Existentialists and Mystics (1997).
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