Monday, January 20, 2014

The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch

A set piece.  The landscape is thoroughly constricted to a British public school, set in a beautiful wooded area just beyond the reach of suburban sprawl.

The narrative shape of the novel takes from naturalism -- all fortunes tend downward.

Various symbols -- water (river, rain), the sky (the sun, the moon), tall things (the school tower) -- are introduced, but their symbolic meaning is traduced by the great detail and attention Murdoch pays them:  they can no longer be simply translated, e.g., river=sex, river=life, river=adventure, river=freedom, because all of the meanings seem true.

Murdoch's great trope -- the "muddle" -- is used here in her third novel.  It's a stand-in for the human mental and emotional condition.

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