More than almost any other writer, she understands the currents beneath the surface. Who knew the human heart better?Like many child swots, I yearned to be a novelist. Long before I had read Iris Murdoch, I knew that a famous writer lived in one of the houses I cycled past after school; it seemed almost a failure on her part that she hadn’t spotted me – “that girl! In scruffy navy corduroy! Her obvious intelligence; her glorious soul! – and somehow made me a writer too. By the sixth form, having discovered The Black Prince and The Sea, the Sea, I wanted to be her. I had a postcard of Murdoch in a literary shrine above my desk and, as I toiled over Habsburg foreign policy, her bone structure shone down upon me: a beam of intellect and beauty. Like the equally badly dressed and much more underrated Elizabeth Jennings, Murdoch understood the world I came from – North Oxford, where cleverness, cluelessness, poor social skills and terrible haircuts were normal; her weirdos gave me hope.Today, though my love of Murdoch remains fetishistic – I collect her first editions, read every disappointing biography – it’s her unfashionable novels that thrill …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books