Iris Murdoch   The Green Knight.
Viking, 472 pages, $23.95

In a recent interview, Iris Murdoch reported that she regards her latest novels as her best because they most closely resemble the novels of the nineteenth-century English and Russian masters. I think she is quite correct in that judgment. Certainly her novels of the past decade, The Philosopher’s Pupil (1983), The Good Apprentice (1985), The Book and the Brotherhood (1987), and The Message to the Planet (1989), along with her new novel, The Green Knight, represent her most ambitious work. Reading these novels can indeed sometimes approach the experience that a character in her Nuns and Soldiers (1980) reports while reading Little Dorrit: “[I]t was amazing, it was so crammed and chaotic, and yet so touching, a kind of miracle, a strangely naked display of feeling, and full of profound ideas, yet one felt it...


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