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A Severed Head Audio CD – Audiobook, Apr 28 2003


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Chivers Audio Books (April 28 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 0754055906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754055907
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)


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'YOU'RE sure she doesn't know,' said Georgie. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this story about power, love, control, and sincerity. Without being an amateur of psychological monologues, its tempo kept me reading. In only two sessions I savoured and it was never a bore.

Comparing this COMEDY to the Great Novels of mankind would only show the same poor judgement and mauvaise foi as comparing Aleksandr Sokurov with Woody Allen. Molière, Feydeau, Wilde & alli would be much better candidates, if whining about the unfairness of some author's reputation would have not been plainly stupid, anyhow.
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By Isabeau on June 11 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book in college. Some previous reader had underlined every appearance of the word "understand" - and for once I was grateful. I suggest you try that too.
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By A Customer on June 7 2004
Format: Paperback
"A Severed Head" is the first and very likely the last novel by Iris Murdoch I'll read.It isn't by any means a disgrace, but it falls far short of the expectations raised by the hyped reputation of Ms. Murdoch.
Ms. Murdoch is clearly not a great writer. Just read a page of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or Virginia Woolf to remind yourself what acuteness of insight, depth of vision and felicity of expression great artists can achieve.
Alas, "A severed head" is not even a good novel. The twists of the plot are ludicrous (at the end of the novel, almost all male-female love relationships will have happened or been revealed in the brisk course of a few weeks), the characters little more than the embodiment of a few adjectives each. The dialogue rings false : there is precious little differentiation of tone and speech, every one drops high-brow cultural references at regular intervals. The mirroring of the narrator's confusion with the London fog is the very heavy simile that Ms. Murdoch beats to death for 200 pages.
This novel has been seriously crafted by a well-read professor who is not a genuine artist. The gist of the issue is that Ms. Murdoch has a few intellectual points to make (on love and seeing, mainly); she constructs her novel to achieve them, but does so with little of the true powers of vision and of expression on which the art of writing and the joys of reading rest. Intellectual novels can be successful, of course, provided there is enough spirit and/or language mastery to go with the ideas - think Dostoïevsky or Proust.
If you want a beautiful example of novelistic art, you'd do much better with "The photograph" an exceptionally fine work by Penelope Lively on the same theme, without the weighty intellectual pretensions. If you want to read a great modern novel, "Disgrace" by JM Coetzee will show you the abyss between a well-meaning but rather limp attempt at literature by a serious don and greatly moving art.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book after seeing the excellent film Iris. I still intend to read the entire Murdoch set, however I have not been too impressed with this first outing.
Clearly the tale is not to be taken in any literal sense, however I am at a loss to understand the level on which it is to be understood. It doesn't seem like comedy, so I think it must be an irony. However, is there a trick to inventing ironic (or ironical) situations?
The plot and characters aside, the language is a breath of fresh air. In a modern light, the syntax may seem a little stilted, however the apparent care in crafting the words inspires care in reading them.
In the end, this is probably what I enjoyed most about the book - not the characters (all of whom seemed spineless in uninteresting ways), not the plot (which I assume is intentionaly ridiculous).
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Format: Paperback
The best book about the power of love...
how the true love gives one the energy to do, act, overcome
how the true love takes away the fear, makes the conditions of life that you once thought to be insurmountable obstacles seem irrelevant
love that fills your life with a sense of purpose, lova that makes you live, not just exist
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By A Customer on Sept. 4 2001
Format: Paperback
As an Iris Murdoch "junkie", I relish all of her works, and I'm still in the process of completing the list. My personal favorites have to be A Severed Head, The Sea, The Sea, Bruno's Dream and The Green Knight, so far. A Severed Head is particularly enjoyable because its plot is fast-moving and doesn't get sidetracked with lengthy philosophical or religious theory that is inherent in so many of her books. While I do enjoy examining these topics, it's also great just to get engrossed in a good story without having to think existentially, if you know what I mean. She has incredible talent as a novelist in developing characters, describing setting, developing plot and building suspense. She uses these gifts, combined with her great sense of humor, to bring her stories to an unanticipated climax, with an even more unexpected, and often happy, ending. She treats her readers as intellectual equals, which is a nice compliment, although I know I've come up short a few times -- particularly when one of her characters spouts off a phrase in a foreign language. It's the price you pay for good art, and I wouldn't change a thing. This book is a great jumping off point for new Iris Murdoch readers, who can then graduate to her lengthier, (and more philosophical) works later. Not many people can write like Iris Murdoch, and she is missed by many. Luckily, she left her legacy in her writings that we can all enjoy for many, many years to come.
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