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Under the Net (1954)

by Iris Murdoch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,982457,109 (3.63)1 / 151
Iris Murdoch's first novel is set in a part of London where struggling writers rub shoulders with successful bookies, and film starlets with frantic philosophers. Its hero, Jake Donaghue, is a drifting, clever likeable young man, who makes a living out of translation work and sponging off his friends. However, a meeting with Anna, an old flame, leads him into a series of fantastic adventures.… (more)
Recently added byNickLyle, jsewvello, kamintra, private library, GrettelTBR, brendanmoody, obsessedbybooks, Lokayat
Legacy LibrariesIris Murdoch, Sylvia Plath

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» See also 151 mentions

English (42)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Iris Murdoch manages to cram the most of profound meanings into a sentence, or a paragraph. I can see how this will frustrate readers, but Under The Net is one of those books where you have to read bits of it, close the book and drown in it for a while. ( )
  georgeybataille | Jun 1, 2021 |
holy crap, that was wonderful.

I felt physically sick several times due to the sheer amount of booze they were drinking and how wonderfully precisely the feeling of extreme drunkenness was written.

will read again. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
The plot is from "Wacky Racers", but none the less Murdoch's characters do the usual thing of going through the tumble-dryer and emerging as clearer headed and wiser.
  ivanfranko | Sep 13, 2020 |
I enjoyed this so much more the second time around. And I use the word enjoyed, rather than liked, on purpose—it was a thoroughly fun read and I did like it, but I'm also fascinated by Murdoch's talents for: plotting (especially set pieces), description, evoking characters (I won't say character development because most of them don't develop anywhere, but she certainly can set them up), and one of the best dog/human relationships I've read in a while. You could say that's actually the central love story, since Murdoch's human affairs aren't particularly touching—think Shakespeare's characters all running around in the woods hooking up with the wrong people (thanks, Iris Murdoch Fan Girls Book Club, for that image). And the nominal sex is awful. But everything else is pretty wonderful, and it's interesting to see how Murdoch pieces all together. The ending is more uplifting than I remembered, too, and sweeter in general.

Though speaking of pacing, one thing that I get a kick out of is the way she interjects these little philosophical treatises into the narrative. It reminds me, if Ms. Murdoch will beg my pardon, of the way middling erotica is set up: you have the story line, and then the doorbell rings and it's the plumber, which sets the scene so everyone can have sex, and then they're done and the rest of the story goes ahead until there's another bit set up for the express purpose of more sex—or in Murdoch's case, more philosophical discussion—etc. It's quite charming. ( )
4 vote lisapeet | Jun 10, 2020 |
Aw Murdoch, why'd you have to go and flub it halfway through? It was pleasantly easy-going and whimsical enough for the first part (if occasionally overdone), buy loses most of the charm and becomes a little tedious once the tone changes to mopery. I'd been wondering whether the antics could be kept up for 250 pages. Apparently not. The attempt to work in philosophy seems a bit half-hearted and indulgent. I enjoyed those first hundred pages enough to keep it at a 3/5. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Murdoch, Irisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abelló, MontserratTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggink, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krämer, IlseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peccinotti, HarriCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

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.
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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Iris Murdoch's first novel is set in a part of London where struggling writers rub shoulders with successful bookies, and film starlets with frantic philosophers. Its hero, Jake Donaghue, is a drifting, clever likeable young man, who makes a living out of translation work and sponging off his friends. However, a meeting with Anna, an old flame, leads him into a series of fantastic adventures.

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Average: (3.63)
1 7
1.5 1
2 22
2.5 4
3 88
3.5 34
4 135
4.5 12
5 45


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