The Italian Girl by Iris Murdoch

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I’d like to tell you about one novel I’ve read recently. It’s “the Italian girl” by Iris Murdoch. Iris Murdoch was an Irish-born British author and philosopher, best known for her novels about political and social questions of good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious

She was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1919.

Her father came from a sheep farming family and her mother who had been trained as a singer until Iris was born, was from a middle class family from Dublin. When Iris was very young, her parents moved to London, where her father worked in the Civil Service.

She was educated in private progressive schools and she went on to read classics, ancient history, and philosophy at college.

She wrote her first novel, Under the Net, in 1954.

She was married but didn’t have children.

In 1995 she began to suffer the early effects of Alzheimer's disease and in 4 years, aged 79, she died.

The plot of the book.

“The Italian Girl” was written by Iris Murdoch in 1964.


Edmund Narraway, the narrator, returns to his family home for the cremation of his mother, Lydia.

His mother was a manful masterful woman.

She tyrannized her family and that’s why Edmund had left the house of his childhood several years earlier.

He did not want to return and he hoped not to stay there for long.

In the first day, he found out that his brother was a drunker who cheated on his wife, and his sixteen year old niece was pregnant with a child and could not wait to have an abortion.

At first, the main character (or protagonist) had a feeling of superiority to people who were not well-adapted to normal life and lived a life of solitude.

But gradually he understood that having left them alone with Lydia then, he did not have any right to judge them now.

Learning more and more, he found many vices in himself.

He was not just like them; he was even worse because they didn’t hide their real faces and he did not know who he really was.

I think that we can compare Edmund’s family with Heathcliff’s in “Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Brontë.

In both novels, when you read about what is happening in the house and what the ugly things close people are able to do, you feel a little uneasy; you want to throw the book away and to keep on reading at the same time.

But in “Wuthering Heights,” the main theme is love.

In “The Italian Girl” we see what solitary life without love means.

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