Chapter

The ‘Dark Background of Difference’: Love and the Refugee in Iris Murdoch

Lyndsey Stonebridge

in The Judicial Imagination

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748642359
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652150 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748642359.003.0006
The ‘Dark Background of Difference’: Love and the Refugee in Iris Murdoch

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Iris Murdoch worked in the UNRRA camps, and her early novels are crowded with exiles, refugees and displaced persons. It is suggested that Murdoch's early writings are an attempt to grasp the elusive figure that appears inbetween the withdrawal and the granting of rights: the refugee or displaced person, or, as Murdoch would probably put it, the human individual. The refugee in Murdoch's writing becomes not only a limit concept of political, juridical and speaking life, but of fiction too, and of the very possibility of a moral novel-writing. This chapter turns its attention to literary ethics in Murdoch through The Flight from the Enchanter. Where Murdoch's love ultimately depends on the unpredictable hazards of the liberal self, Franz Baermann Steiner's ethics are those of the ritual and taboo that were his subjects of study and his grounds for belief.

Keywords: love; refugee; Iris Murdoch; literary ethics; Flight from Enchanter; Franz Baermann Steiner

Chapter.  11655 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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