Modern Novelists - Iris Murdoch

In this interview, especially made for sixth-form students, Iris Murdoch talks to Frank Kermode about the conflict that every writer must negotiate between creating artistic form and allowing the characters to develop freely. Kermode, a literary critic, also leads Murdoch into a close reading of her 1962 novel An Unofficial Rose, where she resists many of his attempts to see patterns and themes in the book rather than a plot that evolves through character development.

Iris Murdoch's academic record was almost as impressive as her remarkable literary output. Her achievements included getting a first-class degree from Somerville College, Oxford, in 1942 and winning a place at Vassar College in New York State and a Commonwealth Scholarship in 1946 (although she was prevented from travelling to America as she had declared herself a Communist Party member on her US visa). In 1948, she took up a philosophy tutorship at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she stayed for 15 years before spending four years as a lecturer at the Royal College of Art.

↗ Originally broadcast 24 May 1965.

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