Fiction

A Word Child by Iris Murdoch

By Iris Murdoch

A incredible yet deeply unsuitable guy struggles to earn absolution

Hilary Burde used to be a emerging celebrity in academia until eventually a sad twist of fate plunged him and his mentor and rival, Gunnar Jopling, into 20 years of melancholy and guilt. Hilary, not able to beat his discomfort, deserted his promising profession for an unfulfilling task as a civil servant. yet at age 41, Hilary crosses paths back with Gunnar—initiating a sequence of occasions that might swap their lives forever.

Set opposed to a richly drawn backdrop of post-war London, A observe Child is a gripping tale of ardour and the redemptive strength of love.

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Yet the very success of this act of retrieval raises even more acutely the question of how the betrayal comes about. If it is not due to female fickleness, what is its cause? In answering this question, we come near to the heart of Chaucer’s continual concern with betrayal. For it is, in his eyes, the bitterest manifestation of the most fundamental characteristic of human nature: the capacity for change. 2). qxd 4/16/02 4:42 PM Page 19 Women and Betrayal 19 Gladeth hymself;” thus seyn men, as I gesse.

13). The ‘truth’ of Dido’s story was traditionally bound up with the question of literary authority, with the kind of belief that is to be accorded to literature. Attitudes to women are determined by the endorsement or rejection of literary authority: when Jehan le Fèvre answered Matheolus’s antifeminist accusations in his Livre de Leesce, it was on the grounds that his literary evidence was no evidence at all, Car de mençoingnes y a maintes En ces ystoires qui sont faintes. (754–5) He points out that many of Matheolus’s stories illustrate male treachery rather than female folly; but in any case, he says, writers such as Homer and Ovid are unworthy of belief because they are pagans.

O soth ys, every thing ys wyst, Though hit be kevered with the myst. ’ (345–60) It is in her role as victim of ‘wikke Fame’ that Dido claims entrance to Chaucer’s House of Fame; she is the suffering human subject who must bear to be represented by the accounts of others – accounts that are circulated not only in oral form (‘songe’) but also in writing (‘red’). At the head of this written tradition stands Book IV of the Aeneid. Vergil’s account is not devoid of 8 Dronke ([1986] 1992, 451) comments on ‘the wider, exemplary dimension’ that Chaucer gives to Aeneas’s treachery in Dido’s lament; her story becomes meaningful ‘insofar as the magnificent but remote queen of Carthage is seen to have an experience no different from that of any woman betrayed by any man’ (452).

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