Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch

I Just finished reading this book last week. I've only read one other book by Murdoch, The Bell, which I enjoyed quite a lot. This is an early novel, Murdoch's second, and it's damned funny. Quite a combination of characters, all connected to each other in ways that are hard to figure out in the beginning. Each character is bounced from one event to the other, seemingly unaware and out of control most of the time. Which is kind of like life.

The part that had me laughing, long-time activist I am, is the meeting of the old ladies to discuss the sale of "The Artemis", a magazine they founded in the radicalism of youth, maintain "shares" in but haven't bothered to read or consider for years. Now, however, there is a proposal to sell the publication and, of course, everyone has an opinion and feels honor bound to expound upon it. Except for one woman with a hearing aid who can understand nothing and keeps lamenting the fact loudly. Unfortunately, with my bad hearing, that seems to be my role these days.

"Order, order!" said Mrs. Carrington-Morris.

"Oh, get on with it!" sazid Mrs. Wingfiled.

"Look here," said the lady in the mantilla, "do I rightly understand that it is proposed that the Artemis be sold?"

"That is the proposal," said Hunter.

"I don't think we can allow that, you know," said the woman with the grey fringe who had the air of one who believed herself to be the only person present who really understood what was going on.

.....A veiled lady who had not spoken so far leaned forward, rumbling like a clock before she gave utterance. "Mmmm - do I understand you to say that it is proposed to sell the Artemis to - a man?"

Hunter gestured hopelessly. "I've been running the thing for two years now," he said, "and after all I'm a man!"

A stiff silence followed this shameless declaration.

Yup. Familiar. Heh.