New York : Norton, 2001.
xxix, 706 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Originally published: London : HaprerCollins Publishers, 2001.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 661-676) and index.
"Iris Murdoch's life - like her books - was full of extraordinary passions and profound relationships with some of the most inspiring and influential thinkers, artists, writers and poets of her time. During the war she pondered Aldous Huxley's doctrine that, for a writer, 'it is not what one has experienced but what one does with what one has experienced that matters, ' and she later wrote that the person who might help her better herself 'must not distinguish between me and my work'. She was sometimes portrayed as a bourgeois grandee living an unworldly, detached intellectual life, inventing a fantastical alternative world for compensation; but much that was thought to be romance in her work turns out to be reality. 'Real life is so much odder than any book, ' she wrote to a friend, and her life was as exciting and improbable as her fiction. Her novels are not just stylised comedies of manners with artificial complications, but reflect passionately lived experience, albeit wonderfully transmuted. Peter Conradi's biography returns the reader to her best work, through a quest for the living flesh-and-blood creature: the Irishwoman, the Communist-bohemian, the Treasury civil servant, the worker in Austrian refugee-camps, the RCA lecturer during the 1960s, the lifelong devotee of friendship conducted at a distancce and by letter, and the Buddhist-Christian mystic. It balances the formative years before the creative confusion of youth gave way to a greater stability, with an account of her maturity."--Jacket.