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Classic Literature

7 Must-Read Iris Murdoch Books: The Ultimate Guide

We recommend starting with one of these seven excellent books.

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

Must-Read Books by Iris Murdoch Where to Start Reading

Iris Murdoch was one of the most influential 20th-century Irish-British authors, renowned for her novels that explored philosophical and moral themes.  Her works were praised by critics and readers alike for their complexity and insight into human nature.  To this day, Iris Murdoch remains an iconic figure in literature whose works continue to be read around the world.  So, if you’re looking to start reading Iris Murdoch’s work but don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered!  Here are seven must-read books by Iris Murdoch that will get you started on your journey into the captivating world of her writing.

About Iris Murdoch

Who is Iris Murdoch?

Iris Murdoch was born Jean Iris Murdoch in Dublin, Ireland, in 1919.  She studied classics and philosophy at Somerville College, Oxford, before going on to teach philosophy at a number of universities in the United Kingdom.  In 1954, she published her first novel, Under the Net, which established her reputation as one of Britain’s foremost authors.  Murdoch’s novels have won many awards, including the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.  She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 for her contributions to literature.

What kind of books did Iris Murdoch write?

Murdoch’s works span many topics, including philosophy, morality, love, and coming-of-age stories.  Her novels often feature characters in search of meaning and purpose in their lives, and many of her novels explore the complexities of love, marriage, and relationships.

Murdoch’s approach to writing was unique, incorporating philosophical themes into her work in a way that few writers have been able to do.  Her characters often grapple with moral dilemmas and grapple with the question of what it means to be human.

What is considered Iris Murdoch’s masterpiece?

Murdoch’s most acclaimed book is the 1978 novel The Sea, The Sea.  It won the Booker Prize and was considered by many to be her masterpiece.  The Sea, The Sea tells the story of a retired actor who moves to a coastal village in an attempt to escape from his past.  Through the protagonist’s journey, the reader discovers that it is never too late for redemption and that love can be found in unexpected places.

Get a copy of The Sea, The Sea on Amazon or Bookshop.

Which Iris Murdoch book should beginners read first?

If you’re a beginner to Murdoch’s work, then the best book to start with is her debut novel, Under the Net.  Written in 1954, this novel follows the story of an aspiring writer who finds himself entangled in various romantic entanglements, much of his own doing.  The novel has been praised for its wit and sharp social commentary and is considered one of Murdoch’s most accessible works.

Get a copy of Under the Net on Amazon or Bookshop.

7 Must-Read Iris Murdoch Books

For readers looking to explore Iris Murdoch’s works, here is a list of seven must-read books:

  • Under the Net
  • The Bell
  • The Sea, the Sea
  • A Severed Head
  • The Black Prince
  • The Sandcastle
  • The Philosophers Pupil
Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

Under the Net is Murdoch’s debut novel.  Written in 1954, this novel follows the story of an aspiring writer who finds himself entangled in various romantic entanglements, much of his own doing.  The novel has been praised for its wit and sharp social commentary and is considered one of Murdoch’s most accessible works.

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The Bell by Iris Murdoch

The Bell by Iris Murdoch

The Bell follows a group of characters living in an English village and their struggle to balance personal beliefs with religious values. The novel portrays complex questions of morality and faith in a compelling narrative.

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The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

The Sea, The Sea is Murdoch’s masterpiece and won her the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1978.  The novel follows the story of Charles Arrowby, a retired theatre director who moves to a remote seaside house and attempts to reconcile with his past.  The Sea, The Sea is a complex tale of love, redemption, and morality.

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A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

This novel follows the story of a married man who is tempted by a beautiful young woman and must face the consequences of his actions when his wife leaves him for her psychoanalyst. It deals with themes of infidelity, love, loss, and morality in a captivating way that will draw readers in from start to finish.

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The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

This novel tells the story of Bradley Pearson, an aging writer who is trying to make sense of his life.  Through this story, Murdoch examines themes such as identity, loneliness, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and the meaning of life.

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The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch

The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch

The Sandcastle follows the life of William Mor, a man who is struggling to come to terms with the pressures of adulthood and the importance of making the right choices.  Murdoch’s novel is a meditative exploration of morality in modern life and, through its characters, explores themes of love, loss, and identity in a powerful way and with sensitivity and insight.

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The Philosophers Pupil by Iris Murdoch

The Philosophers Pupil by Iris Murdoch

This novel follows the story of a young boy and his mentor as they explore philosophical ideas in search of truth and understanding. It’s an exploration of life and what it means to be human and Murdoch examines themes of faith, morality, and the complexities of human relationships in this book.

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What do you think about these Iris Murdoch books?

Have you read any books by Iris Murdoch?  Are any of these books or her other works on your TBR?   What book by Iris Murdoch is your favorite?  What Iris Murdoch books would you add to this list?  Let us talk about it in the comments below.

MORE READING:

The Best Iris Murdoch Books

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