The Flight from the Enchanter Paperback – Feb 1 2000
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• "A spirited fantasia in several keys... brilliant, witty and original." --Sunday Times
• "Miss Murdoch's prose has music even as it has intelligence and wit." --Spectator
About the Author
IRIS MURDOCH was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. During the war she was an Assistant Principal at the Treasury, and then worked with UNRRA in London, Belgium and Austria. She held a studentship in philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge, and then in 1948 she returned to Oxford, where she became a Fellow of St Anne's College. Until her death in February 1999, she lived with her husband, the teacher and critic John Bayley, in Oxford. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. In the 1997 PEN Awards she received the Gold Pen for Distinguished Service to Literature.
Iris Murdoch made her writing debut in 1954 with Under the Net, and went on to write twenty-six novels, including the Booker prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978). Other literary awards include the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Black Prince (1973) and the Whitbread Prize (now the Costa Book Award) for The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974). Her works of philosophy include Sartre: Romantic Rationalist, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992) and Existentialists and Mystics (1997). She died in February 1999.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Annette, youthful and vibrant, leaves school. She wants to go to the school of life, and despite two near-rapes, a ridiculous midnight (and half-naked) pursuit of a man old enough to be her father, and a silly suicide attempt by antacid, Annette comes out no more worldly. It is an unwritten rule in Murdoch's universe that youth (and the carelessness of it) are resilient - but… Somewhere, somehow, youth is broken. Rosa could be a middle-aged Annette. The school of life has knocked Rosa around, yet a compulsion towards pliant self-effacement (and plenty of ill-advised decisions) has landed Rosa in the middle of a brother sandwich. Her threesome has horrific consequences, not least of which is the very real, not by antacid, suicide of a minor character.
THE FLIGHT FROM THE ENCHANTER is a reminder that we are linked. Although the plot machinations tend towards the melodramatic, and as such are not quite "realistic," they are best viewed as educational scenarios, a safe place to see the repercussions of immoral (bad) decisions. Murdoch is a moral writer, and her goal is not simply to provide entertainment, but to show us what it means to live a good life, possibly (mostly?) by negative example. THE FLIGHT FROM THE ENCHANTER can be read on multiple levels, none of which disappoint.
I like the way Murdoch moves from the comic tones of the early scenes—the first meeting between Mona and Mrs. Wingfield is positively Dickensian—to the more serious and even tragic developments later on. The party scene late in the book is particularly well-observed, from multiple perspectives.
One thing that struck me was how hapless the British characters in the book are. Annette the bubblehead quits school to find herself and drifts around in a teenaged daze, Hunter labors for a magazine no one reads, Mona slums away in a job way below her education level, Mrs. Westfield spends her days drinking, Rainborough stagnates in a do-nothing bureaucracy doing crossword puzzles and Peter Saward obsesses over archeological trivia. Even the proactive Calvin Blick is really just a factotum for Fox, not his own man. The lecture Mrs. Westfield delivers Mona late in the book could have been addressed to any of these people.
Among the rest of the cast I was particularly intrigued by Jan and Stefan, who come off like the Fenstrunk Brothers' creepy cousins.
This is not one of Murdoch's most known works, which is a shame. It's well worth reading.