A lay community of thoroughly mixed up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an enclosed order of nuns A new bell, legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered Dora Greenfield, erring wife, returns to her husband Michael Mead, leader of the community, is confronted by Nick Fawley, with whom he had disastrous homosexual relations, while the wise oldA lay community of thoroughly mixed up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an enclosed order of nuns A new bell, legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered Dora Greenfield, erring wife, returns to her husband Michael Mead, leader of the community, is confronted by Nick Fawley, with whom he had disastrous homosexual relations, while the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercises discreet authority And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved, whatever that may meanIris Murdoch s funny and sad novel is about religion, the fight between good and evil, and the terrible accidents of human frailty.
The Bell A lay community of thoroughly mixed up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey home of an enclosed order of nuns A new bell legendary symbol of religion and magic is rediscovered Dora Greenfield er
I love Iris Murdoch I ve come to expect certain things from her novels one astonishing, humorous transition here, it comes early, on a train at least 2 abrupt sexually centered plot twists that make me exclaim out loud on the subway a few incredible lines that border on philosophy Most of all, there s the sense in her novels that anything is possible as the excellent A.S Byatt interview puts it, she has the instincts of the 19th century novelist, though she s thoroughly contemporary One caution [...]
Interrupting RoutineI work as tutor and librarian at Blackfriars Hall Oxford, the smallest and most medieval of the University of Oxford colleges and also a Dominican priory A few years ago Blackfriars acquired a bell to call the friars to prayer The sound of the bell does indeed create a definite atmosphere in the place as also does its timing since it rings, like its larger fellow at Christ Church College, according to solar time about six minutes behind GMT The midday call to the Angelus ther [...]
There is a story about the bell ringing sometimes in the bottom of the lake, and how if you hear it it portends a death The Bell is an early philosophical novel by Iris Murdoch, the Irish academic and Oxford professor of Philosophy, who also wrote in total 26 novels This is her fourth novel, first published in 1958 The first of her novels to be shot through with ethical considerations, The Bell remains the one novel in her entire output where the moral conundrums are the most explicit Until now, [...]
Opening lines Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him She decided six month later to return to him for the same reason The absent Paul, haunting her with letters and telephone bells and imagined footsteps on the stairs had begun to be the greater torment Dora suffered from guilt, and with guilt came fear She decided at last that the persecution of his presence was to be preferred to the persecution of his absences.Well, colour me intrigued by this passage and thrilled to f [...]
There were many people who can live neither in the world nor out of it They are a kind of sick people, whose desire for God makes them unsatisfactory citizens of an ordinary life, but whose strength or temperament fails them to surrender the world completely and present day society, with its hurried pace and its mechanical and technical structure, offers no home to these unhappy souls Work, as it now is can rarely offer satisfaction to the half contemplative In The Bell, we find such a group of [...]
he felt himself to be one of them, who can live neither in the world nor out of it In 1950s England it was illegal to be homosexual In this novel it s 1950s England and Michael is homosexual He s created a mysterious religious community nestled away in the secluded woods which also serves as storage space for his desires But you really can t hide from who you are, can you And Dora, a young woman unhappily married to an older man, also starts to figure out that this kind of repression isn t susta [...]
Several characters come to a lay community attached to a Benedictine nunnery It is a place of sanctuary, a bridge between the secular world outside and the closed, contemplative, spiritual convent Most of the characters are looking for some kind of peace, although not all of them find it This novel is widely regarded as Murdoch s masterpiece I have not read all of her books, but this one is excellent.
There were many people, she said, and Michael was but too ready to credit her since he felt himself to be one of them, who can live neither in the world nor out of it They are a kind of sick people, whose desire for God makes them unsatisfactory citizens of an ordinary life, but whose strength or temperament fails them to surrender the world completely and present day society, with its hurried pace and its mechanical and technical structure, offers no home to these unhappy souls.The voice of the [...]
this book is so good so so good it is one of those books of which i ask myself, how did she do it how did she come up with a story like this what tremendous formal control does it take to write such a seemingly simple story and pack it with so much stuff the beginning is a bit Middlemarchian, in that a rather naive girl marries an older man who is passionate about his scholarship we never learn whether his scholarship is any good and also tremendously narcissistic, manipulative, and abusive mayb [...]
I really don t know why so many people like The Bell when Murdoch has written better books I find the Bell cumbersome and lacking soul Sure the characters are ok, but Murdoch became better at creating fully fledged people AND mixed in philosophy at the same time The story is about a group of rather nasty people who go on a retreat at an abbey but are entangled in each other s lives with the bell being the focal part of their lives and possibly their redemption from being materialistic and having [...]
This was the first Iris Murdoch novel I read, many years ago now, and straight away I was hooked For months afterwards I was obsessed with her books, and read them one after the other Her appeal is both simple and complex Murdoch is a great storyteller, a brilliant inventor of plots Typically, her stories start out like realistic novels of English life, only to become increasingly bizarre, with outrageous entanglements of relationship and motive, recognitions, reversals, melodramatic confrontati [...]
I added this book to my to read shelf because of this article theguardian books boo
Iris Murdoch s fourth novel shows a strengthening of fictional power while continuing her philosophical inspection of human character I love the opening lines Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him She decided six months later to return to him for the same reason Dora is one of the two main characters and represents the amoral personality She is a fairly young woman, married to an older man While living mainly on nerves and feelings, she has a horror of any sort of confin [...]
Another amazing book from Iris Murdoch She managed once to bring up some questions about types of behaviour in this life, in a very londonese like spirit, gently uncovering mysteries of human nature.
It was just that Dora had then estimated, with a devastating exactness which was usually alien to her, how much of sheer contempt there was in Paul s love and always would be, she reflected, since she had few illusions about her ability to change herself It did not occur to her to wonder if Paul might change, or indeed into hope from him anything at all She felt his contempt as destructive of her, and his love, consequently unwelcome Yet all the time, in a shy and round about way, she loved him [...]
whenever i pick up an iris murdoch novel, it seems initially that i am embarking on a tale with conventional romance trappings, and then, very quickly, there is a moment of unease, and i begin to understand that she has lured me away from the safe harbour where her story begins, and that the universe her characters inhabit might be familiar to me but that i am not conversant with its rules the bell was no exception at first it seemed that the primary story would be that of dora, the desultory wi [...]
Religious community life tension, spirituality, suppressed sexuality, practicality Less overtly philosophical than Under the Net.The Guardian selected it as a book to give you hope theguardian books boo
I like Murdoch, she writes without inhibitions about such subjects as morality, sex and religions The Bell has a special charm, combining the three subjects mentioned before I really liked the way she portrays her characters, Michael, Dora and Nick, who, without any specific reason, became my favorite character imi place iris murdoch scrie frumos, captivant si fara rezerve, neevitind subiecte precum moralitatea, sexualitatea si viata religioasa clopotul e primul roman scris de ea pe care l cites [...]
Wow This is a short novel about passion, devotion, betrayal, and the strictures of society and religion There s a frenetic energy and Iris Murdoch does not allow for many lulls in the narrative she turns from character to character to propel the plot to a thrilling trajectory Like The Sea, The Sea, some of the characters are magnified in scope beyond what would be realistic But that heightened focus does not detract This would be a good bookclub pick I m having a splendid start to the reading li [...]
Last of my catch up reviews for stuff I read between June and October It is basically a Murdoch novel, a bunch of characters experience spiritual dramas, there is light and easily penetrable symbolism, lots of great sentences and love stories I generally love everything she wrote and this did not disappoint, though it is by no means her best work contrary to what I was told It is a bit like The Nice and the Good though a bit ascetic Which can be a good thing for some but not for me Still, I had [...]
I think we all thought Murdoch would be difficult, intellectual In fact, she is funny, perceptive and very easy to read Despite the setting of this book 1950s, a lay community and its characters very middle class British I found the book compelling Written largely from the point of view of three of the characters Dora, Michael and Toby , the language itself conveys the personalities and failings of the characters Her handling of male homosexuality is very sensitive and believable even impressiv [...]
A classic piece of literature It s almost 5 stars but I think it will take a re reading to get to 5 start status Iris Murdoch had me at hello The book starts with these lines Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him She decided six months later to return to him for the same reason The story is set in 1950 s England but could have happened today The Bell about a group of dysfunctional people which means they are just like you and me who live together in a small community nea [...]
Three and a half stars Thought about giving it 4 stars, but was left with too many questions on what motivated drove some characters to their endunsatisfying for me However, if you appreciate truly creative writing, then this is worth the read for that aspect alone Here s an example Toby, as a Londoner, was not used to moonlight, and marvelled at this light which is no light, which calls up sights like ghosts, and whose strength is seen only in the sharpness of cast shadows.
Having for an introduction to Murdoch such a stolidly and rigidified work as The Italian Girl and subsequently and significantly losing interest in the author s fiction, I have to wonder what changed in the meantime that had me so enthralled by this book even before I picked it up As becomes immediately apparent, and so as the book goes on, The Bell is a stirred and uncaged being offered up as a dedicated pupil of Murdoch s multifarious notions and concerns.Though Iris believed in the stricture [...]
Whenever books find their way into our discussions, my friend rarely misses the opportunity to point out how time consuming reading is, since the same amount of information you gather from tens of pages of description can be visually assimilated from a movie in seconds This popped into my head than once while I was reading The Bell and made me painfully aware of the time lost, which is why I have such difficulty settling on a rating One aspect of the novel that I really liked is that there s a [...]
This is an interesting book There s is much to appreciate about bells The characters are distinctly individualistic, which causes them to be sometimes reserved with their feelings The story centers on a new lay community, situated in a wood of birds and next to a walled, cloistered Abbey of nuns The history of this outpost dates to medieval times the muddy, plant tangled, still lake bears evidence of those olden days in a lost bell and a legend, which predates the dissolution of the monasteries [...]
Dora Greenfield is a young woman, married to the bullying, supercilious Paul who is thirteen years her senior She has been separated from him for six months before deciding to go back to him when he invites her to join him at Imber Abbey where he is working on some ancient manuscripts The Abbey is home to an order of cloistered nuns and has a small lay religious community attached, living in a stately home The community has a wide range of members from the self appointed leader Michael, aspirant [...]
I finish this book satisfied with what has come before and filled with the echoes of the emotional bouts that these happenings, and the characters that caused them, inspired This is truly a novel in the sense that it proposes characters with complicated personalities and motivations, and sets their struggles and joys against portions of society that, in turn, contribute to the overall drama It is an excellent novel for its prose, which is such a pleasure to read for its structure, which balances [...]
Character driven, elegantly written story of secrets, betrayal and guilt Full review to follow