Wednesday, October 10, 2007


i almost never read non-fiction novels. i don't count the mounds of writing books i have purchased--as every aspiring to be published novelist has done. and when i do read non-ficiton, it is always biographies. i have read biographies on iris murdoch and elizabeth I extensively. i have read biographies on josephine (napoleon's consort) as well as cleopatra. women from history bound to power, that interests me.
wilson's biography stirred some controversy when it was published, for putting murdoch in a rather negative light at times. i read many passages thinking he almost wanted to be mean for some reason. what is the difference between mean and truthful, when writing a biography of someone who the author claimed was a mentor--someone who absolutely made himself want to be a novelist?
many sections read like the authors own biography, and he tended to ramble from one anecdote to another. i found the long discussions on philosophy to be slow. but i think it was relevant, since it was a topic very much tied to murdoch. overall, i would recommend the book to any murdoch fan who finds her novels as fascinating as i do. wilson contends that to truly see into murdoch's psyche, you only have to read her books. this may be true with all writers, but i think it's especially so with murdoch. she wears her words on her sleeve.


moonrat said...

Yeah, the point about mean versus truthful... it's hard to negotiate. Especially in a blog community.

I heard that her husband had written a biography of her, too. Have you read that one? One of my friends read it and found it incredibly sad.

cyn said...

MR, i have read that one. and it came out with some controversy as well. both murdoch and her husband were writers, tho murdoch the more successful. some felt that the husband was airing dirty laundry and details that, if murdoch were alive, she wouldn't be too happy about. he became a successful writer by writin about her life.

wilson also noted that murdoch is now known as the alzhemeirs lady, due to her husband's book and the film which came out.