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The Bell by Iris Murdoch

The Bell (original 1958; edition 2004)

by Iris Murdoch

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1,386285,486 (3.84)2 / 179
Title:The Bell
Authors:Iris Murdoch
Info:Vintage Classics (2004), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Bell by Iris Murdoch (1958)

  1. 20
    The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (Booksloth)
  2. 00
    Next to Nature, Art by Penelope Lively (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Both books are about a commune, the book by Murdoch explores this in more detail and depth.
  3. 00
    The Courage Consort by Michel Faber (Booksloth)

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I wanted to get to this book all year and I truely saved the best for last it appears. This is a great story, good character development and an interesting story. The book is published in 1958 and to some extent that is obvious but it also is not dated in many ways. The story is set in a lay community outside of an abbey of cloistered nuns. A new bell is to arrive for the nunnery and thus the title of the story. There is also a myth about the past bell which is said to be lost in the lake and if you hear its ring there will be a death. The characters are all misfits in someway and thus they are drawn to this lay community because they don't fit in. Three people are merely visitors to the community, The errant wife, the cruel and cold husband and the boy who is heading off to engineering college. The reformed homosexual leads the community, there is the novice who has schizophrenia and the innocent youth and the alcoholic. The themes is the struggle of sex and religion.
A quote, pg 165 "Our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port".
Also another book with some psychiatric history. This book is written in 1958. It mentions insulin shock treatments and even mentions that "insulin was making her fat". It also mentions drugs and it was about this time that Thorazine was being used. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 28, 2013 |
"The Bell" is another solid novel from the wonderful Iris Murdoch. She does a good job of giving a perspective on religion, marriage, homosexuality and the struggles of a number of various characters in an entertaining way.

The story starts following Dora Greenfield, who left an unhappy marriage, only to return to her husband who is staying in a lay community attached to an Abbey of reclusive nuns. The book jumps around, giving the perspective of several different characters -- though some in the book aren't drawn quite so well.

Overall, it was an entertaining story and a fun read. "The Bell" definitely isn't Murdoch's best work (and I think it was one of her earlier books) but it still made for a good read. ( )
  amerynth | Oct 16, 2013 |
This was a book that I read with a LT group read. I've never heard of the author or book and had no expectations going in. The beginning of the book struck me as kind of creepy and I thought it might go a bit gothic. The set up is a young woman, Dora, in a stifling marriage. She leaves her husband but decides to go back to him after 6 months. At that point he is living and working (seems to be some sort of historian) with a small religious community attached to a convent. She goes there to be with him and we meet the other people living there and learn about the myth of the old bell that was lost during the dissolution of the abbey in the 1300s. After a while, I figured out that the book wasn't really going the gothic direction and it ended up being more of a relationship study. The interesting thing is that some of the characters are homosexual and I thought that, especially considering this was written in the 1950s, this was written with a lot of understanding and lack of prejudice. ( )
  japaul22 | Oct 14, 2013 |
Michael Meade takes up his position as a teacher at a British Public School at the same time as 14-year-old Nick Fawley, ‘a child of considerable beauty’. Meade has to leave when Nick, now 16, tells the Headmaster about the sexual relationship they have had. ( )
  TonySandel2 | Feb 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him.
It might be thought that since Nature by addition had defeated him of Nick, at least by subtraction it was now offering him Catherine: but this did not occur to Michael except abstractly and as something someone else might have felt. (p.98)
Dora's ignorance of religion, as of most things, was formidable. She had never in fact been able to distinguish religion from superstition, and had given up her own practice of it when she discovered that she could say the Lord's Prayer quickly but not slowly.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141186690, Paperback)

A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an order of sequestered nuns. A new bell is being installed when suddenly the old bell, a legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. And then things begin to change. Meanwhile the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercises discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved, whatever that may mean. Originally published in 1958, this funny, sad, and moving novel is about religion, sex, and the fight between good and evil.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The story of a lay community of mixed-up people encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an enclosed order of nuns, including Dora Greenfield, an erring wife who returns to her husband, and Michael Meade, who is confronted by his homosexual former lover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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.

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