The pursuit of love in Iris Murdoch's the message to the planet

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    In October 1986, not long before she started work on The Message to the Planet, Iris Murdoch told a symposium in Amsterdam that she believed her later novels were better than the earlier ones. The Message to the Planet contains two loosely interwoven plots: the love triangle between the painter Jack Sheerwater, his wife Franca, and his lover Alison; and the desperate pursuit by the young historian Alfred Ludens of the enigmatic sage Marcus Vallar, one of Murdoch's recurrent enchanter figures. In this article I compare two novels to see what The Message to the Planet has to add to the picture presented in Under the Net, and consider whether the dramatization in Murdoch's sparkling debut novel of a young acolyte's quest for the truth he thinks his chosen sage embodies is improved upon, either on her own terms or in critical opinion, in the 'baggy monster' of the later novel.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-176
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Language, Literature and Culture
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


    • Characterization
    • Iris Murdoch
    • Love
    • Sexuality
    • The Message to the Planet
    • Under the Net


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