A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

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A novel about the frightfulness and ruthlessness of being in love

Martin Lynch-Gibson believes he can possess both a beautiful wife and a delightful lover. But when his wife, Antonia, suddenly leaves him for her psychoanalyst, Martin is plunged into an intensive emotional reeducation. He attempts to behave beautifully and sensibly. Then he meets a woman whose demonic splendor at first repels him and later arouses a consuming and monstrous passion. As his Medusa informs him, “this is nothing to do with happiness.”

A Severed Head was adapted for a successful stage production in 1963 and was later made into a film starring Claire Bloom, Lee Remick, Richard Attenborough, and Ian Holm.

About Iris Murdoch

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Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She is the author of 26 novels and several works of philosophy. She died in 1999.
Published November 18, 1976 by Penguin Books. 210 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Witty and sophisticated, this novel is set among London fogs, and drawing rooms filled with too many objects d'art, and conversations, where six characters spin an over-civilized danse macabre of love and manners.

Apr 17 1961 | Read Full Review of A Severed Head

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