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Iris Murdoch's unique study of one of the 20th century's foremost thinkers

About the Author

Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919. She read Classics at Somerville College, Oxford, and after working in the Treasury and abroad, was awarded a research studentship in Philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge. In 1948 she returned to Oxford as fellow and tutor at St Anne's College and later taught at the Royal College of Art. Until her death in 1999, she lived in Oxford with her husband, the academic and critic, John Bayley. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 and in the 1997 PEN Awards received the Gold Pen for Distinguished Service to Literature.

Iris Murdoch made her writing debut in 1954 with Under the Net. Her twenty-six novels include the Booker prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978), the James Tait Black Memorial prize-winning The Black Prince (1973) and the Whitbread prize-winning The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974). Her philosophy includes Sartre: Romantic Rationalist (1953) and Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992); other philosophical writings, including 'The Sovereignty of Good' (1970), are collected in Existentialists and Mystics (1997).


There are nearly 50 monographs in print on Sartre's life and writings. This slender but muscular contribution by a prolific novelist see Murdoch, The Book and the Brotherhood and former Oxford philosophy don attends only to Sartre's novels, giving as context the history of existentialism and Sartre's development as a political thinker. Murdoch's criticism of her subject's artistic and philosophic uses of language is particularly cogent. Still, the work is authoritative but not revolutionary, well composed but without remarkable insight. Students and scholars in the field should read it; lay readers will find it a good introduction either to Sartre or to literary criticism.Francisca Goldsmith, Golden Gate Univ. Lib., San Francisco

A penetrating introduction to the romantic rationalist, novelist and penseur * The Times *
Iris Murdoch's concise study... reads as clear and logical as it did in 1953, and remains one of the best friends to anyone who wants to understand what existentialism was all about * Evening Standard *
With a cool and luminous introduction...Sartre: Romantic Rationalist is all about the thinker, about his philosophy and his novels... Her fair if unflattering book is the best way in to what finally matters to Sartre * Observer *
A remarkably intelligent and penetrating introduction to Sartre * Times Literary Supplement *

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