Учебное пособие по английскому языку




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Unit XIV



I. Read the text and do the assignments following it.

Iris Murdoch (1919-)



Iris Murdoch's achievement as a novelist has frequently seemed problematic to critics, reviewers and even readers, though her books have always sold extremely well both in Britain and in other countries. When her first novels appeared in the mid-1950s, .she was immediately classed with the "Angry Young Men," for reasons now hard to discern, since she was certainly not angry and was interested much more in philosophical games and in the nature of fiction itself than in social protest. What she had then in common with writers like Kingsley Amis and John Wain was an interest in rapid comedy, and the long English tradition of the episodic novel. Though in fact, even then, her work was much more closely related to that of Beckett and the French existentialists and surrealists than to the eighteenth-century comic novels which Amis and Wain admired.

Iris Murdoch is a philosopher as well as a novelist. Her philosophical work deals with the relations between art and morals.

Her best-known piece of conceptual writing is "Against Dryness," published in 1961 in "Encounter," in which she argued that one of the major problems of the modern novel is that after two wars "we have been left with far too shallow and flimsy a view of human personality."

I. Murdoch is the author of about thirty novels. The first two novels "Under the Net"1 (1954) and "The Flight from the Enchanter"2 (1935) differ from all the later novels. Both are philosophical fables, using a proliferation of characters and dramatic incidents to illustrate a central theme. In "Under the Net" the theme is the necessity and danger of concepts, forms, in thought and action, both in the worlds of art, politics, work, morals and love. In "The Flight from the Enchanter" the theme is social, and concerns the proper and improper uses of power. Both novels are close to Miss Murdoch's work on sarire, they take up the relationship of the individual and of art, to political structures and ideals, the nature of freedom, the nature of language.

Her next book "The Sandcastle"3 (1957) is dedicated to her husband, John Bayley, and her work from "The Sandcastle" onwards shows a concern with the moral and critical principles explored in his book

"The Characters of Love" and later in "Tolstoy and the Novel."

Iris Murdoch's technical interest in 19th century "realism" is an interest in the fictional world in which separate individuals meet, change, communicate. A good novel is "a house fit for free characters to live in." Now she makes an effort in the novels "The Bell" (1958), "An Unofficial Rose"4 to learn from Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James.

Both "The Bell" and "An Unofficial Rose" are concerned with the relationships between freedom and virtue and also between beauty and truth.

There are several novels which one could call "mythical" novels. They are "A Severed Head"5 (1961), "The Unicorn"6 (1963) and "The Time of the Angels"7 (1966).

For her highly acclaimed novel "The Sea, the Sea," Iris Murdoch won the Booker Prize in 1978.

Many serious English novelists nowadays are moving away from realism, from social analysis and emotions of individuals to "unreal" forms. Not only I. Murdoch but Angus Wilson and some other writers were taking an interest in the fairy stories in Dickens's plots, in the grotesque caricatures, so, like fairy-tale characters. Both Angus Wilson and Iris Murdoch have deep roots and strong moral attachments to the English realistic tradition. Both write novels which combine old realistic morals and old realistic techniques, with a new kind of literary playfulness.


Notes:


1. "Under the Net" – роман «Под сетью»

2. "The Flight from the Enchanter" – «Бегство от волшебника»

3. "The Sandcastle" – «Замок на песке»

4. "An Unofficial Rose" – «Дикая роза»

5. "A Severed Head" – «Отрубленная голова»

6. "The Unicorn" – «Единорог»

7. "The Time of the Angels" – «Время ангелов»


II. Translate into Russian the following phrases and use them in your own sentences:


one's achievement as a novelist, to sell extremely well, an interest in rapid comedy, philosophical fables, to illustrate a central theme, to show a concern with the moral and critical principles, an interest in the fictional world, grotesque caricatures, fairy-tale characters, to have deep roots and strong attachments to the realistic tradition, literary playfulness.


III. Answer the following questions:


1. Why have I. Murdoch's novels always sold well?

2. What common features did the works of K. Amis and I. Murdoch have?

3. What philosophical conception did she use in her creative work?

4. Speak about I. Murdoch's novels: prove that she is a prolific writer. Concentrate on the themes of her novels. What can you say about her "mythical" novels?

5. Draw a parallel between I. Murdoch and Angus Wilson.


IV. Do a written translation of the text using a dictionary. Analyse the text.


Iris Murdoch appears to be on the verge of achieving a major reputation in contemporary English fiction, and as is so often the case today, her achievement does not depend upon any single work. It is rather the totality of her work with which we are impressed.


I. Murdoch is prolific enough. Since 1952 she has published about thirty novels, a short volume on Sartre and a number of philosophic and literary essays. Her novels contain the language of ideas but what they lack is the reality of flesh touching flesh. She possesses a sense of craft and an obvious dedication to the demands that novel writing makes upon one and she has accepted a world complex enough to make even the absence of tragedy endurable. She possesses humour and broad human sympathies, but for all of its turbulence and violence her world is surprisingly calm. What she lacks is rage.

The world she creates is permeated with too much Victorian insularity; it is not our world. "Sartre," she noted, "is profoundly and self-consciously contemporary, he has the style of the age." It is an accurate observation and it leads one to the further observation that is missing in her own work is that very style of the age, that contemporaneity which she sees so clearly in Sartre.


IV. Choose the right word (a hinterbrand, to succeed mixture, cast of characters, artistry, ambiguous, to manifest, characterized, unity, underline, puzzle-like, convention, degenerate, a series brilliant games, reality, devoid, be engaged) and insert it in the text.


All Iris Murdoch's books are novels of passions, (__) by gripping narrative and deep emotional impact.

In most of them there is (__) of something like myth or fairy tale.

As one of the critics puts it:

"Her (__) is to weave the improbable and the fantastic into the normal world, so that we cannot be sure, moment, just what level of reality is being presented."

It is important to note that Iris Murdoch's interest in existentialist philosophy (__) most of her novels. And is particularly at the level of fantasy that she (__) in producing her most skilful and evocative writing. Thus her free-flowing and unresolved fantasy gave her first two novels "Under the Net" and "Flight from the Enchanter" their (__), but when in her third novel– "The Sandcastle" (1957)– Iris Murdoch moved closer to the traditional fictional structure, with a strong plot and a carefully worked out( __), her limitations began (__ ) themselves.

The fantasy which had been effective when it was left (__) and unresolved now tended to turn into not very successful symbolism. At the same time the plot began to appear too much like an existentialist formula glossing over (__). And in "The Bell" (1958), in spite of the continuing brilliance of style and compulsive story-telling, her symbolism became more and more (__).

Her fifth novel- "A Severed Head" (1961) - is the most existentialist of all her novels and is also most convincing.

There is no (__) here of fantasy and realism: it is all fantasy – but fantasy in the head. In addition Iris Murdoch has evolved a set of highly stylized (___) within the limitations she has chosen, so that the "dance of sex," in which her characters (__), takes on a sombre quality of "dance macabre."

In many of her subsequent novels the sexual or emotional complications may from time to time (__) into something very close to dark Gothic melodrama and her patterns of fantasy woven into reality may sometimes produce the effect of something contrived and mechanical.

One of her (__) novels, "Fairly Honourable Defeat" (1970), was described in the "Observer" as "a symbolist pantomime" and though in many ways it is her best book since "A Severed Head" and perhaps morally one of the most positive, it does point to the fact that her work is in danger of becoming (___) for the very high highbrows, though not (__) of versatility and technical expertise.


V. Render the following text in English using the key words and word combinations given below:


1. Irish by origin, English by language and religion, to move to, English-Irish roots, creators of paradox, to break traditions, devotion to, non-standard fantastic situations.

Айрис Мёрдок родилась в Дублине в 1919 году. Ее родители были тем, кого принято называть англо-ирландцами: ирландцами по крови, англичанами по языку и религии (протестантизм). Вскоре после ее рождения семья перебралась в Лондон, и детство будущей писательницы прошло уже в Англии. Англоирландские «корни» дали английской литературе не одного знаменитого автора, в том числе великих парадоксалистов О. Уайльда, Б. Шоу, Б. Стоукера. Айрис Мёрдок традиции не нарушила. Можно предположить, что ирландские предки сыграли свою роль в склонности писательницы к изображению парадоксальных положений и нестандартных фантастических обстоятельств.


(В. Скороденко. «Достоинство человека и хаос жизни» (заметки о романах Айрис Мёрдок). – М., 1991)


2. a novel with a philosophical tendency, to declare, a leading genre, an essay devoted to, to be a spokesman of the spirit of the time, to be true to, to concentrate the attention on the inner world of the heroes, to display a mastery in rendering the subtleties and contradictions of life, subtle, delicate, consciousness, the burning problems, human feelings and relationships, actions and motives.


Роман с философской тенденцией, который порой сами его авторы условно называют философским, заявил о себе в середине 50-х годов. Сегодня он стал в Великобритании едва ли не ведущим жанром. В нем выступают такие известные писатели, как А. Мёрдок, У. Голдинг и К. Уилсон.

А. Мёрдок – философ по специальности. В 60-х годах, уже имея за плечами 10 лет творческой деятельности, она сама назвала свой роман философским. В специальном очерке, посвященном Сартру, которого она объявляет своим главным наставником, Мёрдок декларировала связь своего творчества с творчеством Сартра-экзистенциалиста. «Сартр глубоко современен, – писала она. – Он выразитель духа времени».

Со своего первого романа «Под сетью» (1954) А. Мёрдок была верна исходному принципу экзистенциализма: отображать «существование» как оно дано сознанию. Она фиксировала внимание преимущественно на внутреннем мире своих героев. Образы, созданные Мёрдок уже в первых ее книгах, обнаруживали ее большое мастерство в передаче тонкостей и противоречивости жизни отдельных людей. «Под сетью» – тонкая, изысканная, полуфантастическая «игра ума», размышления молодой последовательницы Сартра над «чудесами нашей жизни» и «запутанностью современного сознания».

Ранние романы Мёрдок уводят читателя от подлинно злободневных проблем сегодняшнего дня, акцентируют приоритет влечения над разумом, декларируют относительность человеческих чувств и отношений, поступков и побуждений.


(В. В. Ивашева. «Литература Великобритании XX века»)

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