The Metaphysical Cityscape in Iris Murdoch’s Under the Net

If you are inclined to the philosophical novel and one that is actually quite light-hearted such as A Confederacy of Dunces, then Iris Murdoch’s Under the Net would fit the bill. In much the same way as New Orleans is a “character” in CoD, so too is London in UtN. Jamieson Ridenhour discusses this aspect at The Literary London Society. Here too is the classic review of UtN by Malcolm Bradbury — and if you don’t know who Bradbury is, see his obituary in The Telegraph; even The Guardian views his legacy in a highly favorable light (do follow the links listed there). Here is a good write-up of the posthumous Liar’s Landscape in The Independent. Bradbury represented the dying ember of the cultivated academic literary mind, before the complete and utter degradation of a noble enterprise by the IYI postmodern charlatans. Bradbury was so well-placed to observe the, at best, “how to write” trend and at worst, the off-the-peg philosophical shallowness of those who now purport to be “English” dons.

To begin with, the ending is not so much moral as philosophical; if, in James, we recognise the need to allow each person his own independence, this is because to encroach upon human individuality is a moral fault. In Under the Net it is more conspicuously a philosophical fault. — Bradbury