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Holy Fool and Magus: The Uses of Discipleship in <i>Under the Net</i> and <i>The Flight from the Enchanter</i>

Peter J. Conradi

in Iris Murdoch, Philosopher

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199289905
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728471 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289905.003.0004
Holy Fool and Magus: The Uses of Discipleship in Under the Net and The Flight from the Enchanter

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Iris Murdoch habitually explored courts, covens or cabals within her fiction. Her first two novels, Under the Net and The Flight from the Enchanter, considered by critics to belong to different fictional sub-genres, are shown none the less each to concern the need of their respective heroes to out-grow the magicians who exercise power over them. In Under the Net the magician is the French novelist Breteuil, loosely based on Raymond Queneau, and in The Flight from the Enchanter the magician is much more closely a portrait from the life of the writer Elias Canetti. The role of the good magician and Holy Fool Hugo Belfounder in Under the Net is shown distantly to mirror the role of Wittgenstein’s disciple Yoryck Smythies in the life of Dame Iris herself: Smythies and Canetti played respectively the roles of good and evil daemons or philosopher-kings.

Keywords: Holy Fool; Magic; Power; Good; Wittgenstein; Queneau; Elias Canetti; Disciple; Under the Net; The Flight from the Enchanter

Chapter.  7721 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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