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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Absolutely wonderful A stunning novel The Philosopher s Pupil is a Dante esque tale of love in which numerous types of love are evoked, from dishonest to honourable, self defeating to masochistic, platonic to deviant, and never ever simply just one type at any one time Set in Ennistone, a town renowned for its natural hot water springs baths, it s also filled to the brim with the heat of gossip, anger, passions, and small minded mischief makers This review is not about the plot, as that Absolutely wonderful A stunning novel The Philosopher s Pupil is a Dante esque tale of love in which numerous types of love are evoked, from dishonest to honourable, self defeating to masochistic, platonic to deviant, and never ever simply just one type at any one time Set in Ennistone, a town renowned for its natural hot water springs baths, it s also filled to the brim with the heat of gossip, anger, passions, and small minded mischief makers This review is not about the plot, as that s for you to enjoy in your own time This is an homage to the truly marvellous characters that Murdoch s genius has given life to in this novel.Murdoch has a mature nineteenth century novelist s depth to her characters she is easily a match for Tolstoy, Trollope and Eliot, to name some of the giants of fiction Her fictional beings are beautifully detailed, fully realised in scope and complexity Each draws you into their own personal world view, reasoning and often troubled emotional life, and you are captivated in your watching and listening to them live and breathe and assert themselves in their muddled worlds Her dialogue alone is worth the price of the novel and the prologue, relating the car accident for it really isn t one, but an incident resulting from a violent action , is a tour de force.This event introduces us to George, the novel s devil in barely human form But he is scarily human For this reader, he s the most vivid, fully realised, horribly convincing, nightmarish psychopath and sociopath I have ever read in fiction Far scarier than Hannibal Lecter as a fictional creation, andbelievable than a real life monster like Ed Gein With his extreme ranting and raving, his sheer loathing and violent, misogynistic fantasies as well as behaviour , he is apocalyptic in tone and revenge Yet he could just as well be one of your neighbours who has become utterly mad, yet within a framework of apparent sanity at the same time He is the strongest case and example though there are several others in this novel of Murdoch s tremendous ability to create flesh and blood human beings that convey her passionate intellectual and creative interests, while never failing to be merely conduits or foils for her fictional plotting There s never any sense of Deus ex Machina at work, here her creatures spring from the page, and are all tremendously individual in language, thought and action.As if psychotic George wasn t enough for one novel, there s also the philosopher of the novel s title as well, John Robert Rozanov George was once one of John s pupils He s manipulative, amoral, uncaring, soul less, intellectual and emotionally moribund In many ways, in fact, he s farof a devil than George though never committing physical acts of violence, or verbal, as George does with such relish and ease Then there are the brothers to George Brian, who is just the most miserable, endlessly complaining and always irritable sod and relentlessly funnily drawn through his dialogue and through whom a lot of the novel s humour is brilliantly played out and Tom, the youngest of the brothers, at university For most of his life, to his teenage years, he s naive, delightfully happy and at one with his world and his peers, until corrupted by a Faustian task that John compels him to take up.You ll also have the joy of being entertained by Brian s put upon wife poor, defeated Gabriel, always tearful, always troubled, and ready to blubber at the drop of the proverbial hat.Then there s the intellectual, yet remote, and incredibly martryrish Stella, wife of the monstrous George To give him credit where it s due, besides his murderous rage and violence and misogyny, he does save Zed probably one of fiction s most charming, delightful and convincing portraits of a clever little doggie, who is Zen like and always understanding, even when he s clueless both part of the natural world, and yet connected with his human peers You also have the joy of meeting another marvel the boy Adam, one of Murduch s beguiling saint like mysticaal figures He s offspring to Gabriel and Brian, and is Francis of Assisi like, as well as Buddhist, in his immediate and deep empathy with all living things Murdoch clearly knows her Varieties of Religious Experience.And if Gabriel, Stella and Zed weren t enough, you also have Father Bernard, an Anglican priest who s also an atheist, who believes ultimately that the only hope and saviour for the world is religion without god, and ends up preaching like some sort of ethereal combo ascetic Russian hermit ancient Desert Father type to remote Greek island kindly peasants and otherwise local birds who ll hang about, and the sea and the rocks.In short, I loved, loved, LOVED, this novel It s PHWOR, and fab, funny and dark, with substance, yet as light as a perfect souffl There s also plenty here for lovers of Plato and Dante, for example, and yet such references are never done in an ostentatious way, but flow seamlessly with the events and thinking of the novel and her characters And all these riches are carried through with zest right to the end and beyond, with you being totally immersed in and absorbed by the mess and muddle of these human lives a true Murdochian talent You re left joyous and breathless and happy and utterly, utterly impressed by Murdoch for her philosophical wisdom, her mischievous wit, her darkness and light, her psychological insights, her innate appreciation of what it means to be human She is a novelist extraordinaire Very mixed feelings about this one If I promise a proper review later, that probably won t happen Whatever I m going to say, I have to say now I appreciated the depth and variety of characterization here, but felt the writing was pretty heavy handed Interesting meditations on God, philosophy, psychology It really was the narrative voice that bothered me It is very much a conceit here The narrator introduces himself, calls himself N, names the whole town after himself Ennistone ha ha , Very mixed feelings about this one If I promise a proper review later, that probably won t happen Whatever I m going to say, I have to say now I appreciated the depth and variety of characterization here, but felt the writing was pretty heavy handed Interesting meditations on God, philosophy, psychology It really was the narrative voice that bothered me It is very much a conceit here The narrator introduces himself, calls himself N, names the whole town after himself Ennistone ha ha , and then proceeds to show us the deep inner workings of every single person s head Which is hard enough to pull off when it s simply the Magical Omniscient Author doing it, but outright weird when it s a person in the story, tangential to the events, doing it Also flying saucer I have to admit, that didn t make a lot of sense to me So yes, of the two Murdoch books I have now read, I preferred the other Philosopher Iris Murdoch indicts philosophy or some of its mis uses She shows how corrupting an obsession with abstractions can lead to lack of involvement with the real world Her characters are, as always, complex She points out that individual people areunique than any philosophy or social science dreams of Her books are all worth reading, and this is one of her best. 4.5 StarsSet almost entirely in the wonderfully described town of Ennistone England, The Philosophers Pupil focuses on several of its most prominent inhabitants but particularly on the McCaffrey family and the titular philosopher himself, John Rozanov, a renowned man of learning who seems to entrance the town despite any apparent social skills and with whom George McCaffrey is obsessed It is George who opens the novel in dramatic style and who continues to be a figure of intrigue throughout, t 4.5 StarsSet almost entirely in the wonderfully described town of Ennistone England, The Philosophers Pupil focuses on several of its most prominent inhabitants but particularly on the McCaffrey family and the titular philosopher himself, John Rozanov, a renowned man of learning who seems to entrance the town despite any apparent social skills and with whom George McCaffrey is obsessed It is George who opens the novel in dramatic style and who continues to be a figure of intrigue throughout, thoroughly dislikable and perhaps slightly insane, George seems to take pleasure in his identity as aggressive and off kilter, Murdoch writes, Pride and vanity and venomous hurt feelings obscured his sun He saw the world as a conspiracy against him, and himself as a victim of cosmic injustice George has a brother Brian, a dour rude man and a half brother Tom who is young and sunny natured while his mother Alex rules the roost in true lady of the manor style The complexity of the relationships between the McCaffreys and those who inhabit their world shifts as they interact with the other characters including the two older brothers wives, Gabriel and Stella as well as a servant, Ruby, a mistress, Diane, and a companion, Pearl, who are all from gypsy blood There are Tom s bisexual best friend Emma with his stunning singing voice, Father Bernard, another Iris Murdoch religious person struggling with the loss of faith and of course Rozanov and his granddaughter Hattie who has been cloistered away in schools and foreign climes for most of her seventeen years Tying these all together is the ostensible narrator N who describes himself as an observer, a student of human nature, a moralist, a man and who is somehow privy to everything that is thought and said by all Murdoch does address this omniscience tongue in cheek at the end of the novel with the line from N, It is my role in life to listen to stories I also had the assistance of a certain lady It is the relationship between Rozanov and the McCaffreys that propels much of the story, with George being constantly rejected by the philosopher and Tom McCaffrey being lured into a scheme which clearly won t be straightforward Tom is often the source of the humor of the novel with his ambition to form a pop group with Em, terrible songs about Jesus and general childish clumsiness in whatever he undertakes while Rozanov, in contrast, is a slightly creepy control freak who wants to keep his granddaughter in a magic circle while he writes his last great work As in most Murdoch novels, the drama of the novel is all centered on relationships, with hidden and forbidden love, rejection, instant and inappropriate love while in this small town, gossip and the local newspapers play the part of disseminating information which often skirts the truth Much of the gossip takes place in an elaborate hot spring spa and swimming pool which the whole town frequents and there are evocative descriptions of this throughout from the steam in winter obscuring the swimmers, the private rooms where the water continually runs into large bath tubs, the jet of scalding hot water that spurts geyser like in the grounds to eventually a dramatic scene of the innards of the whole operation It s the place to meet and greet and there are lots of instances of avoidance, spying and flirting, the spring also has a slightly sinister side to it and our narrator writes, A vague feeling persists to this day that the spring is in some way a source of a kind of unholy restlessness which attacks the town at intervals like an epidemic, leading to immorality and sightings of flying saucers To add to the sometimes unreal quality of the novel there is the personification of Adam s dog Zed, a tiny Papillion whose thoughts we are privy to and who provides some funny and heartfelt moments in the book particularly in the one occasion the family go to the sea and when he encounters the foxes that live in Alex s garden, foxes that are imbued by both Alex and Ruby with some significance and who very nearly destroy their relationship.In Murdoch novels it often seems as though there are aspects such as the mystery of the foxes which are never really explained and we are left to draw our own conclusions with other mysteries including what is Mrs Bradstreet s secret What really happened at the bridge What is the source of the Ennistone spring What did our narrator do in the war All this andare weaved into a novel that shows a complex world condensed into the life of a small town, a world that you are drawn into by the machinations of the characters and by Murdoch consummate skill in writing.Some favorite Lines It might be as if, morality being tiring, a holiday from it had at certain intervals to be decreed, at least ostensibly, by some covert social complicity, George was an accomplished narcissist, an expert and dedicated liver of the double life, and this in a way which was not always to his discredit As for the incidental information that Tom s companion at Travancore Avenue was a male, Alex welcomed it She affected to share the family anxiety about Tom s tendencies, but secretly she hoped that he was homosexual, Alex did not care for daughters in law George kept his head slightly turned, his wide apart eyes skewed round towards his brother but not looking at him Tom had an odd impression, rather like a memory, of a madman in a cupboard He felt intensely, what he had in the pastvaguely felt, George s uncanny quality, unpleasant like the smell of a ghost In the Quaker meeting house, a profound silence reigned Gabriel McCaffrey loved that silence, whose healing waves lapped in a slow solemn rhythm against her scratched and smarting soul In this one the power of the Dark Lord one theme in Murdoch is a magnetic character is not erotic but intellectual Is there anymiserable creature in the world than a rejected graduate student Like an abandoned child endlessly searching for his father s approval, the philosopher s pupil seeks for the formula that will unlock the Great Philosopher s treasury of blessings which as only the reader can see, may not exist Why Murdoch chose to set this story perched over the monstrous and In this one the power of the Dark Lord one theme in Murdoch is a magnetic character is not erotic but intellectual Is there anymiserable creature in the world than a rejected graduate student Like an abandoned child endlessly searching for his father s approval, the philosopher s pupil seeks for the formula that will unlock the Great Philosopher s treasury of blessings which as only the reader can see, may not exist Why Murdoch chose to set this story perched over the monstrous and dangerously aging pipe room, in the steamy chambers of Bath s baths, is a little bit of a mystery to me Probably some kind of symbolism This review is from a reread, a strange trip back to the 1980s The passages I loved are still there I had forgotten about Adam and his dog Zed and that came as a pleasant surprise And the Spa and the Slipper House are still a pleasure But this time I was annoyed by George, the Philosopher s Pupil himself This badly behaving male is a constant recurring character in Murdoch When I first read this book I think it was the first time I had come across him and I was charmed Now, references to This review is from a reread, a strange trip back to the 1980s The passages I loved are still there I had forgotten about Adam and his dog Zed and that came as a pleasant surprise And the Spa and the Slipper House are still a pleasure But this time I was annoyed by George, the Philosopher s Pupil himself This badly behaving male is a constant recurring character in Murdoch When I first read this book I think it was the first time I had come across him and I was charmed Now, references to his domestic violence are shocking and so out of place and outdated that Murdoch s gentle tolerance shown towards him is disconcerting Murdoch has so many tricks and twitches that become irritating and repetitive I remember now that is why I gave up on her But there is pure gold in there too The greatest shortcoming of this book is its terrible lack of ECONOMY I have to confess to a morbid fascination with it, even though there is much to detest about Murdoch s style, her content and especially her characters The only saving grace I ve discovered in this collection of unpleasant people is their vaunted cleverness which renders them evenabhorrent And there are so damn MANY of them Murdoch gleefully explores the entire family history of each resident of her screwball imag The greatest shortcoming of this book is its terrible lack of ECONOMY I have to confess to a morbid fascination with it, even though there is much to detest about Murdoch s style, her content and especially her characters The only saving grace I ve discovered in this collection of unpleasant people is their vaunted cleverness which renders them evenabhorrent And there are so damn MANY of them Murdoch gleefully explores the entire family history of each resident of her screwball imaginary town, back to at least two or three generations, whether they have any relevance to the narrative or not Add to that her irksome la di dah interjection of bon mots la fran aise and parenthetic asides and it s hard for me to explain why I continued to wade through about 265 pages of set up before her narrative finally got going I kept hoping that at least one sympathetic character would emerge out of this menagerie of misanthropes, sycophants, schemers, sociopaths, misfits, social climbers, whiners, poseurs you get the picture Or that someone would do the right thing and murder George, the disgusting, drunken psychopath before long even though he appeared to be the main protagonist Murdoch spends nearly a hundred pages exploring George s personality and motives, even though her one sentence He saw the world as a conspiracy against him and himself as a victim of cosmic injustice probably would have sufficed Bottom line Murdoch s self indulgence permitted by her editors, to their discredit impairs what could otherwise have been an engrossing story, namely the complex relationship among George, Tom, Hattie and Rozenov i officially adore iris murdoch the characters she creates are excellent examinations of human nature i find myself identifying with almost all of them, both those i root for and those i despise again, i love that the setting itself is often a character and add overt if limited examination of philosophy to the wonderful job she already does irresistible there s also good potential for comparative essays between this work and crime and punishment george and les miserables john robert a i officially adore iris murdoch the characters she creates are excellent examinations of human nature i find myself identifying with almost all of them, both those i root for and those i despise again, i love that the setting itself is often a character and add overt if limited examination of philosophy to the wonderful job she already does irresistible there s also good potential for comparative essays between this work and crime and punishment george and les miserables john robert about hattie vs jean valjean about cosette if, you know, you re still in ap english {DOWNLOAD E-PUB} Ü The Philosopher's Pupil ë When George McCaffrey s car plunges into a canal with his wife still inside, nobody knows whether George is to blame Nobody, that is, except an Anglican priest who happened to witness the whole thing And when George s former teacher, the charismatic philosopher Rozanov, returns to town, George s life begins to spin wildly out of control Set in the English spa town of Ennistone, The Philosopher s Pupil is a darkly comic story of love, redemption, and the complex nature of the human condition Everything a novel should be I love the way she takes you inside each of the characters thoughts, and that the setting and people are given time to breathe, to really come alive When the actual plot does take off though after about page 300 things seem to happen fast A real joy, I didn t want to finish it.