Sleep with the Fishes jThis was my 20th of Murdoch s 26 novels so it is increasingly difficult to find much to distinguish it from the rest of her ouevreThis one centres on a married psychotherapist Blaise Gavender and his relationships with his loyal and trusting wife Harriet and his mistress of nine years Emily both of which have given him sons These are the sacred and profane loves of the title The other main character is their neighbour Monty Small a recently widowed writer of spy thrillers who helps Blaise concoct alibis for his freuent visits to EmilyAs always Murdoch treats her characters like a capricious and mischievous God and the writing is very enjoyable and often funny Iust looked it up in our wonderful Wikipaedia and found that Iris Murdoch wrote 27 novels the rest of her writings philosophy plays and poetry I haven t read them all but by comparison The Sacred and Profane Love Machine stands out from the rest which is also excellent of course Well what can I say about Iris Murdoch that hasn t been said before and better What is so very enjoyable in any book by Iris Murdoch is how she uses her vast knowledge studies readings in short her knowledge and intelligence to bring about a novel that very much reminds us of authors as to name but two Dostoevsky or George Elliot She writes about flawed people enters into their most secret thoughts and shares with the reader a collection of protagonists who make you by turn despair embarrassed angry or full of almost furtive empathy When you dare take a short breath you ll even be invited to giggle from time to time It s a novel I read before I now read for the second time after some years had passed and I ll read it again every time discovering delicious nuances that may have escaped me before It s like a good wine that grows even better with time While reading The Sacred and Profane Love Machine I could not contain my mind from whispering Zelda Fitzgerald s uote Nobody has ever measured not even poets how much the heart can hold Iris Mudoch explores through her characters a world of pain and agony in contrast with inocence each emotion being closely supervised by each one s conscience Child or adult gullible or cynicle characters choose to lie or to accept lies in order to maintain an ordinary life until the unconceivable happens and the war b i have an iris murdoch headache she made me cry like she always does and i feel vaguely like i ve ust eaten a huge piece of blue cheesecake heavy and hypnotic in its dense richness dotted with sour bits not too sweet her people are very real and audacious they are crazy and they are convincing i think yes this is very true people are like that damn them i would argue that there s not really a main character in this novel but rather it concerns a coterie of characters david and his parents harriet and blaise gavender blaise s mistress emily mchugh their son luca and the gavender s neighbour the well known author monty small his dead wife sophie his mother and his old school chum edgar demarnay playing smaller roles are constance pinn and kiki st loy these will be the people we come to know in the sacred and profane
love machine they eat and drink they drink a helluva lot they walk or kick dogs they talk machine they eat and drink they drink a helluva lot they walk or kick dogs they talk think they love they try to understand they fight they fantasize this novel exudes sex they love they try to understand they fight they fantasize this novel exudes sex if it is a practically sexless outing compared to some of her other novels i became attuned to the character s desires rooting for them to sort out these messes they ve created the messes they are i m know i m reading iris murdoch yet she out these messes they ve created the messes they are i m know i m reading iris murdoch yet she this to me every time she begins by lulling me with the comforts of the domestic scene only to begin to unravel it then she whacks me over the head with her philosophizing here trying to get to the truth of love through its dualities even as she has harriet rescue another dogthat s not to say the novel is perfect monty s constant preoccupation about maybe trying to be a school master again might have some weight that i m unaware of but i did want him to shut up about it regardless sometimes there are passages like this and sometimes it s ust hard spending time with these characters they can be uite hateful even if artfully executed it s difficult being with them hence the headache i ve seen other reviews complain about the ending it didn t spoil the book for me and i won t spoil it but i ll admit she tricked me completely i didn t see it coming but it didn t feel like a cop out it felt real to me even if i didn t especially like how things turned out and that s why i continue to return to murdoch though her words might make me sick in my head and in my heart i m going to come back for because they all seem so true You know what You ve killed me and sent me to hell and you must descend to the underworld to find me and make me live again If you don t come for me I ll become a demon and drag you down into the dark Iris Murdoch The Sacred and Profane Love MachineNow that s the kind of love than is a oy to read about if not to experience About two pages into this novel I was ready to propose to this ingenious piece of writing Let s for the purpose of this metaphor imagine I really went searching for the big fat engagement ring but I forgot to pop the uestion because I was so engrossed with my love interest ie in the reading process itself Can I propose now Iris Long story short as soon as I started reading I knew I m going to love Iris Murdoch I could feel it in my bones That sweet anticipation that lovely sensation of having on your knees a book you know will bring you nothing but satisfaction In all honestly this novel was probably never anywhere close my thighs thighs area or knees who reads like that Who it s ust the mental image of all those long legged Instagram girls that I can t shake of The characters Has there ever been such a delicious group of selfish insane and dysfunctional people The way they interact is marvellous The way this novel is written is brilliant. Swinging between his wife and his mistress in the sacred and profane love machine and between the charms of morality and the excitements of sin
Iris Murdoch ¼ 0 summaryThey re as real as they can be and delightfully messy in every and any sense possible mental emotional and social As messy and crazy as possible There really isn t a protagonist there isn t a character that is at the centre They re all eually important and they will all get a moment to shineand will they shine in styleIt is that brutal honesty that I appreciate the most in this novel Nobody is innocent everyone has an agenda especially if they themselves don t see it Nothing is certain people change their lives in a heartbeat It is as Tennessee Williams said in real life we betray each other in a heartbeat This novel captures that This is real life but at the same time it is also a novel It is life but it is also great writing I could feel for every single character despite their selfishness possibly A World on Fire just because of their weakness and selfishness their humanity The way they are stripped down to the very core of their being makes them very human even when what Iris shows us is the worst aspect of humanity There isn t a hero character in this one everyone is projecting the guilt onto others and they are all eually lost Everyone is their own demon and torturer Yet there are moments of peace and even moments of grace For all her intellect Iris is not ice cold You will find emotive parts in this one but they won t be where you re expecting them No no The novel opens us with a character Blaise He seems like a likeable enough guy His ideas seem fresh How that is going to change His wife Harriet is wonderfully portrayed right from the start There is this warm feeling that accompaniesourney into her soul That is actually something that is going to linger For me she remained the person I liked the most Not that Harriet is idolized No she has her flaws multiple ones but she stayed close to my heart for whatever reason I m getting ahead of things Anyway the opening of the novel is interesting but all in all this seems like a normal family until you discover something about this guy Blaise that happens fairly uickly Iris doesn t beat around bush in this one Blaise has a mistress In fact he has a whole another family hidden from sight How shocking This is only the tip of the iceberg For whom Blaise loves is a mystery I m tempted to be the cynic and say probably only himself However we are perhaps all like Blaise than we would love to admit Perhaps you will be sickened by him the time you finish this novel but admit it you would have also felt for him at least at some point in the narrative Not Setting Them Straight: You CAN Do Something About Bigotry and Homophobia in Your Life just for him For his mistress for her courage and her cowardice for her willingness to settle for less For this neighbour the writer who can t writer and who can t emotionally connect with anyone Oddly enough this emotionless writer is the one I most relate to I really liked Harriet too despite everything but he is the probably the one I was the most curious about For good reason it seems because towards the end of the story this novel suddenly becomes very much about himIt may not seem at first but trust me these kind of charactersoined together in this kind of storyIt is something that is hard to find It felt bloody amazing to me I seriously can t think of any novel to compare itand boy do these characters keep busy The story itself has an astonishing amount of twist and turns Everyone has a secret within a secret within a secretYet it is not about secrets One moment of profound soul uestioning gets followed by the most banal action on the part of the same character who a moment ago seemed on a verge of enlightment Do you know what It actuallly seems right People act on all kinds of impulses animalistic ones emotive and intellectual ones and plain dump ones At times it makes the charters look utterly crazy Which they kind of are And perhaps we all are The uestion is only who is the craziest
The writer who can t write the mistress who won stop at anything the wife who wants to become a mother to the son of the mistress her own golden locks son who is looking everywhere for some help but gets ignored by ust about anyone Yet they all keep onone The writer who can t write the mistress who won
boats against current What is the conclusion Life is madness but human are strong and willagainst current What is the conclusion Life is madness but human are strong and will all No Nothing so simple This is not a h What marks Irish Murdoch s novels is her benevolence The main theme of the novels is love love reuited and unreuited normal and abnormal Terrible things may occur in her novels or be related by one of her characters but there is no indulgence in evil no presentation of it with malicious intent using realism or plot as a pretext for something unwholesome The driving ambition of her characters is often victory in love Defeat is freuent and harrowing but ultimately her faith in love prevails Her weakness can be that her characters are too obviously instruments of her telling with little genuine life of their ownan impression which can be compounded by the domination of her intelligence In this respect her novels are arguably unrealistic because the majority of characters in real life do not appear as interesting or as committed to love as characters in her novels But is it not the role of the novelist to highlight character and make it interesting perhaps even to inspire the reader or beholder to be if not a better character at least a honest one and one determined to live for what one loves Iris Murdoch s world is not a wide one it is that of twentieth century British member so the upper middle class dealing with the entanglements of the human heart In The Sacred and Profane Love Machine the story focuses on Montague Small a hugely successful writer of detective fiction mourning his late wife and his neighbour Blaise Gavender who is the apex of an eternal triangle Irish Murdoch s depiction of the two women in Blaise s life his wife and his mistress is sympathetic acute remorseless and very intelligent Blaise is confronted with the choice between sacred and profane life and is too weak to make a decision his hopes that he He psychotherapist Blaise Gavender sometimes wishes he could divide himself in two Instead he lets loose misery and confusion and for the spectat. .
An muddle through and have the best of both worlds mean that he has to leave the fight for him to the two women whose love for him is bewildering to this reviewer but no bewildering than affections in real life Only a deus ex machina solution to Blaise s dilemma arred for me in this otherwise believable and compelling taleThere is nowt ueerer than folk and nothing strange than the heart s affections This is a moving sad yet finally happy book which succeeds because of the writer s immense sympathy and psychological discernment I feel a review of this book wouldn t do it 100 ways to Fight the Flab - and still have wine and chocolate justice if the reviewer did not somewhere in the process describe one or recent dream The most recent dream I can recall is of myself at a funeral filling the casket with colored pencil stubs You know when the pencils become too short to sharpen and some people use epoxy resin to make them into vases or bowls or guitars Well it seems I m much adventurous than that Iris I have no doubt you would have described this dream so much beautifully But then you would have gone on to describe my feelings about this book for about five pages with some moral philosophy thrown in and this is precisely why most of your books are on my Someday When I Grow Up list though there s no writer I have greater admiration for Someday I ll write beautiful reviews of all of them 35 A later Murdoch her sixteenth novel and not one I knew anything about beforehand In terms of atmosphere characters and themes it struck me as a cross between A Severed Head and The Nice and the Good Like the former it feels like a play with a few recurring sets Hood House where the Gavenders Blaise Harriet and David live their next door neighbor Montague Small s house and the apartment where Blaise keeps his mistress Emily McHugh and their eight year old son Luca A sizeable dramatis personae radiates out from the central love triangle lodgers neighbors other family members mutual friends and uite a few dogsBlaise is a psychoanalyst but considers himself a charlatan because he has no medical degree he s considering returning to his studies to rectify that Harriet reminded me of Kate from The Nice and the Good a cheerful only mildly unfulfilled matriarch who is determined to choreograph much of what happens around her She wanted simply to feel the controls firmly in her hands She wanted to be the recognizer the authorizer the welcomer in the one who made things respectable and made them real by her cognizance of them Their son David 16 looks like a Pre Raphaelite god and is often disgusted by fleshly reality Montague writes successful but formulaic detective novels and is mourning his wife s recent deathI loved how on first introduction to most characters we hear about the dreams from which they veust awoken involving mermaids cats dogs and a monster with a severed head Dreams are rather marvellous aren t they David remarks to Monty They can be beautiful in a special way like nothing else Even awful things in dreams have style Scenes often open with dreams that feel so real to the characters that they could fool readers into beliefBlaise knows he can t sustain his double life especially after Luca stows away in his car on a couple of occasions to see Hood House When he confesses to Harriet via a letter she seems to handle things very well In fact she almost glows with self righteous pride over how reasonably she s been responding But both she and Emily end up resentful Why should Blaise win by keeping his wife and his mistress You must feel like the Sultan of Turkey Emily
taunts him You ve got us both You ve got away withhim You ve got us both "You Ve Got Away " ve got away Here starts a lot of back and forth will they won t they that gets somewhat tedious Throughout I noticed overlong sections of internal monologue and narrator commentary on relationshipsThere s a misperception I think that Murdoch wrote books in which not much happens simply because her canvas can be small and domestically oriented However this is undoubtedly an eventful novel including a Shocking Incident Foreshadowing had alerted me that someone was going to die but it wasn t who or how I thought When it comes to it Murdoch is utterly matter of fact X had perished One of the pleasures of reading a Murdoch novel is seeing how She Reworks The Same reworks the same of situations and subjects Here I enjoyed tracing the mother son relationships at least three of them two of which are uite similar smothering and almost erotic Harriet later tries to subsume Luca into the family too I also looked out for the recurring Murdochian enchanter figure first Blaise for whom psychiatry is all about power and then HarrietI hugely enjoyed the first 100 pages or of the book but engaged with it less and less as it went on Ultimately it falls somewhere in the middle for me among the Murdochs I ve read for a full ranking and links to all my previous reviews see my blogA favorite passage this is Monty on the perils of working from home If I had an ordinary The Oxford New Greek Dictionary job to do I d have to get on with it Being self employed I can brood all day It s undignified and bad Originally published on my blog Bookish Beck I am very mad at this book right now Even though I finished it six months ago Still angry I think I should give it higher stars because it was making me think and feel things in ways I don t usually do I was getting kinda crazy I wanted to hurl the book away from me but it wasn t because it was bad She simply knows how much people and things suck sometimes and how they suck in a lot of uniue and terribly self deceptive ways So while this book is brilliant about people and deserves way stars people are so bloody awful that I m sticking with two Grrr Sacred and profane love A man with 2 families his sacred or legitimate family comprised of his wife and son David and his profane comprised of his mistress and son Luca These families slowly start to unravel and take the participants down with them Exploration of the meaning of love and neverending uest for the heart s satisfactio. Ors at any rate a morality play rich in reflections upon the paradoxes of human life and the nature of the battle between sacred and profane love.