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Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
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Under the Net (1954)

by Iris Murdoch

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» See also 136 mentions

English (35)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I've heard this called Murdoch's best book, but this is only my second of hers and I liked The Sea, The Sea a bit better. I've also heard it described as her most philosophical book, and again I don't have enough to go on—nor do I have much of a grounding in philosophy—but I can at least see where that idea comes from. The book struck me as a kind of self-consciously intellectual overlay to a comedy of manners that has an overlying conceit of being not intellectual and not quite a comedy either, but of course it's very much both. Not to mention a huge nonsexual same-sex love story (the actual love interests were much more flimsy). And while I don't think there's such a thing as free indirect first-person speech, where the narrator is at the same time floating a little above his own head, if there were this would be it. There's always the feeling that Murdoch knows a lot more than she's letting on to the reader… which of course authors are supposed to, but the sense of it isn't usually quite so pervasive. Anyway, it was entertaining and oddly-paced enough to keep my attention. And there's a great dognapping scene that was worth the price of admission (not to mention a great dog). ( )
2 vote lisapeet | Feb 7, 2019 |
I didn't really care for it. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 18, 2018 |
This is the first book written by Iris Murdoch and it is also the first book of hers that I have read. However, I was familiar with her through her husband's book Elegy for Iris. I think I'll be reading more of her books because if this is the first then the others are bound to be better and I quite enjoyed this one.

Jake Donoghue is an English writer and translator of French novels. It's not clear how old he is in this book but I will hazard a guess that he was in his late twenties. This guess is based on the fact that the book is set in the 1950s but Jake makes no mention of having been involved in the war so presumably he came to adulthood after the war. Jake never pays rent if he can help it and always claims to be broke. His girlfriend, Madge, has thrown him out because she thinks she is going to marry another man. Jake and his friend Finn go looking for another place to live rent-free. Their friend Dave takes in Finn but doesn't want Jake living there. Finn suggests Jake look up an old girlfriend, Anna. After much searching Jake finally finds Anna in a mime theatre. Anna is not displeased to see Jake but her mind is obviously on someone else. She suggests that Jake contact her actress sister Sadie who might need someone to caretake her apartment while she goes to Hollywood. Sadie says she will let Jake stay in the apartment starting right away because she is being harassed by her studio head, Hugo Belfounder, an old acquaintance of Jake's. What ensues is more in the nature of those farces that are sometimes staged in which one person is looking for another and that person has just slipped out another door to look for a third person and so on. Jake is madly in love with Anna but Anna loves Hugo. Hugo is hopelessly smitten by Sadie who has always had a fancy for Jake. Everyone pursues the object of their affection through London and Paris but no-one achieves their desire. Dare we hope that Jake et al. will grow up when they realize they can't always have what they want?

The meaning of the title eluded me until I consulted Wikipedia. It pointed to a passage from the book which quotes from a book written by Jake based on conversations he had with Hugo. "All theorizing is flight. We must be ruled by the situation itself and this is unutterably particular. Indeed it is something to which we can never get close enough, however hard we may try as it were to crawl under the net." Wikipedia says the net in question is the net of abstraction, generalization, and theory. I'm trying to grasp the concept but philosophy was never my strong suit. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Jul 15, 2018 |
I never know what to make of Iris Murdoch's books. This is the third of her novels that I've read and I'm always left a little perplexed about whether I loved it or hated it.

This heads in a more predictable direction than the other novels I've read by her, maybe because it's her first. It follows Jake Donaghue, a young-ish man with no money who lives very comfortably by borrowing from friends as he tries (sort of) to be a writer. All sorts of unusual and unrealistic things happen to him and he never takes the conventional path out of a situation. This leads to random drinking, swimming in rivers, stealing dogs, breaking into apartments, and running across rooftops. All sort of in the pursuit of love with a woman it seems he can't make up his mind about, and a man whose intellect he's obsessed with.

So I don't know. Something about the craft of Murdoch's writing keeps bringing me back but I'm still not convinced. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Jul 12, 2018 |
After loving The Sea, The Sea I decided on a vague plan to try and work my way through the rest of Iris Murdoch's novels roughly in order, so started with this, her debut. It is exuberant, funny, philosophical and pretty great. It's a great evocation of 50s London full of colourful characters and unlikely happenings. A good start! ( )
  AlisonSakai | Feb 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
One feels uneasily that any analytic explanation of the book weighs it down, adds a portentousness to what is in fact, light, amusing and rapid. I would plead in extenuation that this, of all the books [ASB covers only the first seven novels of IM], is the most philosophic, the one where analysis of ideas, such as Miss Murdoch herself applies to Sartre's novels is the most apposite technique of understanding the action, and not illegitimate, Since every sentence, as is not always true in the later books, has a sense of being carefully written, 'placed'.... Relationships between characters, although they *exist*, are worked round ideas, and are in very large part relationships of ideas.
added by KayCliff | editDegrees of Freedom, A. S. Byatt (May 29, 1970)
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iris Murdochprimary authorall editionscalculated
Peccinotti, HarriCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
All, all of a piece throughout:
Thy Chase had a Beast in view:
Thy Wars brought nothing about;
Thy Lovers were all untrue,
'Tis well an old Age is out,
And time to begin a New.


DRYDEN: THE SECULAR MASQUE
Dedication
To: RAYMOND QUENEAU
First words
When I saw Finn waiting for me at the corner of the street I knew at once that something had gone wrong. Finn usually waits for me in bed, or leaning up against the side of the door with his eyes closed.
Quotations
Hugo noticed only details. He never classified. It was as if his vision were sharpened to the point where even classification was impossible, for each thing was seen as absolutely unique. I had the feeling that I was meeting for the first time an almost completely truthful man ...

Starting a novel is like opening a door on a misty landscape; you can still see very little but you can smell the earth and feel the wind blowing.
After the dignity of silence and absence, the vulgarity of speech.
If one has good reasons for an action one should not be deterred from doing it because one may also have bad reasons.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140014454, Paperback)

A comic novel about work and love, wealth and fame

Jake Donaghue, garrulous artist, meets Hugo Bellfounder, silent philosopher.

Jake, hack writer and sponger, now penniless flat-hunter, seeks out an old girlfriend, Anna Quentin, and her glamorous actress sister, Sadie. He resumes acquaintance with the formidable Hugo, whose ‘philosophy’ he once presumptuously dared to interpret. These meetings involve Jake and his eccentric servant-companion, Finn, in a series of adventures that include the kidnapping of a film-star dog and a political riot on a film set of ancient Rome. Jake, fascinated, longs to learn Hugo’s secret. Perhaps Hugo’s secret is Hugo himself? Admonished, enlightened, Jake hopes at last to become a real writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Jake, hack writer and sponger, now penniless flat-hunter, seeks out an old girlfriend, Anna Quentin, and her glamorous actress sister, Sadie. He resumes acquaintance with formidable Hugo, whose 'philosophy' he once presumptuously dared to interpret. These meetings involve Jake and his eccentric servent-companion, Finn, in a series of adventures that include the kidnapping of a film-star dog and a political riot in a film-set of ancient Rome"--Cover.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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