English Literature

An Iris Murdoch Chronology by Valerie Purton (auth.)

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By Valerie Purton (auth.)

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Roughnecks barrack the cast. There is no food prepared at the Elizabethan manor where they are staying. 27 IM and fellow-actress Joyce Taylor, having lost their suitcases, stay with an old couple of whom IM comments in her Journal that they are good working class people but not intelligent. 1939 15 28 The troupe gives a free matinee performance to a Basque refugee children’s camp near Shipton-under-Wychwood. There is a worried letter from home which makes IM think that war may really be imminent.

1941 21 At Somerville, IM has bought a copy of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature and is annotating it copiously, making 13 pages of notes altogether. March Frank Thompson is posted to the Middle East with ‘Phantom’. Some time before he is posted abroad, he meets IM in London. They visit Westminster Cathedral, where Frank lights a candle to the Madonna. He leaves behind with IM a folder of his poems, including ‘To Irushka at the Coming of War’. 21 During the Easter vacation, IM writes to David Hicks from her parents’ new address in Blackpool, 9, Waller Avenue, about wartime Oxford: she sees it as filled with evacuees and the atmosphere of war, everyone young and overemotional.

Frank has received IM’s letter about her loss of virginity. He writes an equally long reply, saying that he cannot be glad at the news. He identifies two major difficulties with her position, one the dangerous violence in men, a deep misogyny which IM has yet to experience because of her respectable choice of lovers. The other seems to be more to do with his own reaction to what she has done. He identifies a dichotomy in his own mind, which he takes to be typical of most men, the distinction between women to sleep with as opposed to women to be friends with.

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