Existentialists and Mystics

Existentialists and Mystics

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Best known as the author of 26 novels, Iris Murdoch was also an accomplished essayist and critic who taught philosophy for many years at Oxford University. This work gathers for the first time in one volume her most influential essays and shorter pieces. Included are her major critiques of existentialism written in the 1950s, her two Platonic dialogues on art and religion, incisive evaluations of the writings of T.S. Eliot, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Simone de Bauvoir, and Elias Canetti, as well as key texts on the continuing importance of the sublime, on the concept of love, and of the role great literature can play in curing the ills of philosophy. This volume confirms Iris Murdoch's major contributions to the literature and thought of the 20th century.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 576 pages
  • 134 x 204 x 30mm | 476g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0140264922
  • 9780140264920
  • 128,637

Table of contents

Part 1 Prologue: literature and philosophy - a conversation with Bryan Magee. Part 2 Nostalgia for the particular, 1951-57: thinking and language; nostalgia for the particular; metaphysics and ethics; vision and choice in morality. Part 3 Encountering existentialism, 1950-59: the novelist as metaphysician; the existentialist hero; Sartre's "The Emotions - Outline of a Theory"; De Beauvoir's "The Ethics of Ambiguity"; the image of mind; the existentialist political myth; Hegel in modern dress; existentialist bite. Part 4 The need for theory. 1956-66: knowing the void; T.S. Eliot as a moralist; a house of theory; mass, might and myth; the darkness of practical reason. Part 5 Towards a practical mysticism, 1959-78: the sublime and the good; existentialists and mystics; salvation by words; art is the limitation of nature. Part 6 Can literature help cure the ills of philosophy? 1959-61: the sublime and the beautiful revisited against dryness. Part 7 Re-reading Plato, 1964-86: the idea of perfection; on "God" and "good"; the sovereignty of good over other concepts; the fire and the sun - why Plato banished the artists; art and Eros - a dialogue about art; above the gods - a dialogue about religion.
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Review quote

Brilliantly readable . . . Murdoch can make the most demanding questions of life accessible and exciting. --The Baltimore Sun Existentialists and Mystics desribes the intellectual journey of a lifetime. This book is Murdoch's key. Readers will find much here to stimulate, entertain and edify. No one conveys the beauty and excitement of philosophy better than Murdoch. --Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph

Murdoch, a wondrous writer and a careful student of the history of thought, is endowed a rare talent for philosophical writing--she offers, in accessible prose, insight into some of the great questoins that have preoccupied thinkers for centuries. --San Diego Union

Tight, graceful writing, and a pleasure to read . . . [Murdoch's moral theory] has a real claim to our attention. --Elijah Millgram, The Boston Review

A perceptive investigation into the symbiotic relationship of philosophy and literature. --The Guardian
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About Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was born in Dublin and brought up in London. She studied philosophy at Cambridge and was a philosophy fellow at St. Anne's College for 20 years. She published her first novel in 1954 and was instantly recognized as a major talent. She went on to publish more than 26 novels, as well as works of philosophy, plays, and poetry.
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Rating details

206 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 39% (81)
4 36% (75)
3 20% (42)
2 3% (6)
1 1% (2)
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