HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
Loading...

The Sea, the Sea (1978)

by Iris Murdoch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,650683,235 (3.92)1 / 370
  1. 21
    The Bell by Iris Murdoch (Booksloth)
  2. 22
    Kim by Rudyard Kipling (thorold)
    thorold: Two books that demonstrate that it's possible to use a Buddhist holy man to power the plot of a complex modern novel without getting all mystical and Hermann Hesse.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (63)  Dutch (2)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
I’m fairly certain no one writes, or ever has written, exactly like Iris Murdoch. Reading her prose is like listening to Frank Sinatra sing--you might have heard the song before, but never like that. In the first 200 pages of this book, I could not decide where it was going. Charles seemed an egocentric misogynist, not worthy of the interest I was showing in him. The plot seemed desperately thin and a bit all over the place, but the writing was exquisite, the descriptions were musical, and there was something fascinating that meant I never thought of putting the book down.

Then, with a suddenness that was surprising, all the bits began to fall together, Charles became someone intricate and complicated and the plot started to develop into a gripping story of love, obsession, misdirection, mystery and human foibles. Minor characters took on hidden meaning and became central to the story and Charles became someone you could laugh at and cry for simultaneously. I succumbed to emotions that bubbled up like the surf of Murdoch’s raging sea. I felt the tension of the situation, I struggled to think how it could be resolved and leave anyone intact, I worried for the sanity of everyone involved, and I mourned for the things that might have been if any of these characters had lived life with their eyes open. If there is one thing I could say is unique in Murdoch’s writing, it is that you feel her story as much as read it.

”It’s not an eternal thing, nothing human is eternal. For us, eternity is an illusion. It’s like in a fairy tale. When the clock strikes twelve it will all crumble to pieces and vanish. And you’ll find you are free of her, free of her forever, and you can let the poor ghost go. What will remain will be ordinary obligations and ordinary interests. And you’ll feel relief, you’ll feel free. At present you’re just obsessed, hypnotized.”

How much of life is exactly that? Obsession and invention. How often in life do we substitute our realities, our possibilities, for dreams, which are unreachable? Is it worth anything to us if we recognize the truth of love when life is all but done? And how much like the ever-changing, unfeeling, often cruel sea, is life? Charles romanticizes both, and plays a dangerous game with both, and each of us must decide for himself if the price Charles pays is worth the knowledge he gleans.

Charles is a complete character. He grows and morphs, despite all his efforts not to. And, while he is growing, so do we. This is the only Murdoch I have ever read, but I have no hesitation in labeling her “genius”.


( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Charles Arrowby is a retired actor, theater director, busybody, and textbook narcissist. He hasn't really retired from those last two

He buys a ramshackle casa loco of a cottage by the sea and settles down to "Adjure his magic . . . and study to do good" So we're talking about "The Tempest" here - or are we?

AND he meets an old love of his life in the village and -- egomaniac that he is -- decides on less than no evidence that he is still in love with her and she is still in love with him -- and it's off to the races.

The sea outside his window is wild, beautiful, calm, embracing, and deadly.
As Charles ruthlessly stages this last best drama of his life and bends all around him to his will, the sea outdoors pushes and pulls and roars and whispers and takes life and gives life with a matching cruelty and indifference to human life.

A casting couch load of Charles' town friends drop by - and there is some low comedy right out of "I Love Lucy". Theater gossip is the best gossip.

But also James, his cousin drops in to remind everyone of the Buddhist virtues of listening and studying and being, after all, at rest.

Murdoch is such a wonderful writer - her descriptions do go on but that's all right with. Her descriptions of the sea are worth the price of admission. .

And all these people who run around comically and tragically have life and heart and humanity. You care about them.

a Long book and a slow book - you have to downshift. It's worth it. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Jun 9, 2018 |
I can sometimes enjoying watching cerebral melodramas with English middle class characters on film or television, but it seems I no longer have the patience for them in novel form, so it's too late for me to enjoy Iris Murdoch. The milieu she describes with such care seems so utterly marginal today. Give me the fantastical, or give me at least some characters who have known war, or what it is like to go hungry - because that's the only way to capture the world as I experience it now. ( )
1 vote CSRodgers | Jan 24, 2018 |
This is a wonderful novel about a playwright composing his memoirs, trying to escape to some remote outpost by the sea, only to have his former life find him again and again in hilarious, spectral, and sometimes tragic ways. An unreliable narrator so full of his own vanity, and yet so obviously frail and needy, that I was willing to follow him even when I felt sure he must be hallucinating. A remarkable narrative feat. ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
Bravo, Iris Murdoch - this was extremely clever and uncomfortable reading. But my goodness - it took me 170 pages to get hooked.

Charles Arrowby is perhaps one of the most dislikable protagonists I've read in a long time. A narcissist through and through, he is egotistical, extremely self-deluded and supremely arrogant, and as is always the way with such people he has a loyal band of friends and ex-lovers who remain moths to his flame, available to be summoned at will when his ego requires further stroking.

There's not much I can say about this novel that wouldn't be a total plot spoiler, therefore I'll limit it to saying that Charles, a somewhat famous theatre director, has retired to a remote house by the sea for a supposedly quiet life, only to unexpectedly bump into his first love. Given Charles' narcissistic disposition, his need to rewrite the past to become the victor in love blindsides him into a dangerous obsession which is played out in front of a cast of eccentric friends who turn up uninvited to stay with him.

This turned into a real page-turning book a third of the way in, but I definitely found the first part tedious as Murdoch set the scene of Arrowby's daily life in the quiet, unfriendly coastal village. I do usually need to fall in love a little bit with at least one of the characters in a novel (however flawed they might be), but Murdoch deliberately makes her characters in this book hugely unlikeable for different reasons. That said, it works - Arrowby's total egotism and obsession is such that we are left unsure of what he is capable of doing next, which makes for a great reading ride.

The ending wasn't what I expected it to be, and I can't decide if I feel a little cheated by it or not - the jury is out on that one.

This was my first Murdoch, and clearly she was a supremely gifted writer. This wasn't a take-to-your-heart type of novel, but more of a can't-put-down-literary-car-crash that I almost read peeping through my fingers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (after a week of labouring through the first part), but I'm glad it's finished.

Would I read it again? Yes, definitely. Perhaps that's the skill of Murdoch as a writer - she puts you into a total discomfort zone as a reader which confuses the equilibrium somewhat.

4 stars - some marks deducted for a long drawn out start, but such startling characterisation and outright weirdness make this a great read (eventually). ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Jun 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
The book that finally won Iris Murdoch a Booker is at least as ludicrous as it is brilliant...The surprise isn't so much that she failed to scoop the prize three times in a row, but that a jury managed to unite behind one of her books – especially one as variously sublime, ridiculous, difficult, facile, profound and specious as The Sea, the Sea....So there it is, a book that has left me thoroughly divided. It's as flawed as it is wonderful and it took a brave jury to give it the prize. Or, at least, a very forgiving one.
 

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iris Murdochprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burnside, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To Rosemary Cramp
First words
The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine.
Quotations
The chagrin, the ferocious ambition which James I am sure quite
unconsciously, prompted in me was something which came about gradually and
raged intermittently.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors-some real, some spectral-that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014118616X, Paperback)

Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors-some real, some spectral-that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor both professionally and personally, and to amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors - some real, some spectral - that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

Legacy Library: Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Iris Murdoch's legacy profile.

See Iris Murdoch's author page.

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.92)
0.5 1
1 7
1.5 1
2 24
2.5 13
3 85
3.5 39
4 175
4.5 37
5 140

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 129,000,525 books! | Top bar: Always visible