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Bruno's Dream by Iris Murdoch
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Bruno's Dream (1969)

by Iris Murdoch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (6)  Swedish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Interesting characters caught up in a tangled web of relationships centered around an elderly man slowly succumbing to a terminal illness. There are lots of twists and surprises in the story. the characters illuminate various aspects of life and love as they work out their relationships. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
I finished my first trip to Murdochia and quite enjoyed it. I admit her characters don't quite make likable but they are interesting. One or the other is usually good enough for me. Since I'm a bit Asperger'sish myself, my standards for personal interaction skills is a bit low. I liked her line "He loved her wholeheartedly but with too ordinary a heart. If I don't like a character and I feel the author is trying to force them on me as a role model, that is when I get annoyed.IM wasn't doing that. She had lots of things happening usually unexpected things. She had philosophical musings but they were interesting, didn't go on for pages and most importantly were from a character's POV. I don't like authors who come in like an omniscient voice stating how people are or ought to be. Her prose is beautiful. ( )
  BonnieJune54 | Feb 1, 2013 |
It's impossible to read Iris Murdoch and not become enthralled, even if you are reading about a bunch of self-absorbed characters whose lives are spiralling towards seemingly inevitable disaster... Her characters are so deep and, although improbable, somehow real, and her observations about life and its meanings are so astute that it blows your mind. Most of her novels seem to follow a similar pattern, but it almost doesn't matter what happens once you get drawn in by the writing. I hadn't read Murdoch for years, but now I really feel I must seek out the ones I'm still missing. ( )
  evaberry | Jul 2, 2011 |
Iris Murdoch has a unique take on the human condition. Her books typically feature normal, everyday people making normal, everyday decisions -- but invariably some of those decisions turn out to be stupid ones, with consequences. Most of the time, the "stupid decisions" deal with sexuality or morality. In some ways, reading Murdoch is like watching a train wreck unfold before your eyes. And yet, her books fascinate me, every single time.

Bruno's Dream was Murdoch's twelfth novel, and her second shortlisted for The Booker Prize (in 1970). The title character is an elderly, bedridden man nearing the end of his life. He spends his days poring over his stamp collection, reading books about spiders, and waiting for daily rituals like tea, the newspaper, and champagne. Bruno lives with his son-in-law Danby (his daughter Gwen died several years earlier). Danby's household also includes Nigel, a nurse, and Adelaide, a maid. Bruno has been estranged from his son Miles, his only living relative, ever since they fell out over Miles' first wife, an Indian woman:
If only certain things had not been said. One says things hastily, without meaning them, without having thought, without understanding them even. One ought to be forgiven for those hasty things. It was so unfair to have been made to carry the moral burden of his careless talk, to carry it for years until it became a monstrous unwilled part of himself. He had not wanted Miles to marry an Indian girl. But how soon he would have forgotten his theories when confronted with a real girl. If only they had all ignored his remarks, if only they had made him meet Parvati, let him meet Parvati, instead of flying off and building up his offence into a permanent barrier. If they had only been gentle with him and reasoned with him instead of getting so highminded and angry. It all happened so quickly, and then he had been given his role and condemned for it. And Miles said he had said all those things he was sure he had never said. There were so many misunderstandings.

Now Miles is married to Diana, whom Bruno has never met. Diana's sister Lisa lives with Miles and Diana. Bruno expresses a wish to see his son again, and asks Danby to call on Miles and convince him to visit Bruno. Danby's visit sets in motion a series of everyday actions and decisions that tangle all the characters up in one another's lives. In this story, the king of stupid decisions is Danby, who lusts after anything in a skirt and feels compelled to act on his impulses. Miles isn't much better, and the two of them create fantastic situations ranging from poignant to irritating to funny. Also typical of Murdoch is the way most of the male characters are misguided and insensitive, and most of the women are rational and emotionally strong. In Bruno's Dream, the stronger women rise above everyone else to unravel the tangle caused mostly by Danby and Miles, and bring dignity to Bruno's last weeks.

* FTC Disclosure: This e-book was sent to me by the publisher, Open Road Media, for review. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Apr 11, 2011 |
The first Iris Murdoch book I've ever read. All I can remember from the biopic on Murdoch is that she stated that her books were about "how to be good." This book seemed to fit that description, as it followed the intimate relationships between family members. Each character demonstrated some self-sacrifice, and some self-centredness, and by the end I thought they were all ethically equal, more or less. The novel was very much about love and the compromises people make in its name.

One enjoyable description of the marriage of Adelaide and Will: "Adelaide had anticipated pains and difficulties in her married life, and her anticipations were fulfilled. Will's temper did not improve as the years went by, and a chrnoic dyspepsia, caused by the irregular life of the theatre, did nothing to soothe his frequent tantrums. Adelaide submitted meekly at first. Later she learnt how to shout loud. But she always felt ashamed and tired after their rows. Will never seemed even to remember that there had been a quarrel. Yet if Adelaide had certainly foreseen the bad things, it was true that she had not managed to foresee the good ones. She had maried Will in a mood of cornered desperation because she felt tha tWill was her fate. She had not even framed the idea of happiness in connection with her marriage. Yet there was happiness too. Adelaide had not realized beforehand how very much she would enjoy being in bed with Will and how greatly this engagement would lighten the way for both of them. Nor did she, as she wept and signed her new name, Adelaide Booae, for the first time, dream much later and sunnier days, in spite of Will's cantankerous temper, when her tall twins would be up at Oxford [...], when Will would be one fo the most famous and popular actors in England, and a greatly transformed Adelaide would be Lady Boase.

I love the smell of books published in the mid-20th century, with their hard covers and slightly acidic paper. ( )
  allison.sivak | Jan 31, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Murdoch, Irisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peccinotti, HarriCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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SCOTT DUNBAR
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An old man struggles to make one last connection with his estranged son, before it?s too late The elderly Bruno knows he is not far from death. One of his last wishes is to contact his estranged son, Miles, whose marriage to an Indian woman drove a decades-long wedge between father and son. When Miles comes back into his father?s life, Bruno must confront his guilt, and his family must overcome the tension that grew during his long absence. Set against an enchanting London backdrop, Murdoch?s complex family drama is a poignant exploration of love, remorse, and the power of emotional redemption.… (more)

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