28 April 2010


This is really troubling. It turns out that Iris Murdoch was besotted with Raymond Queneau. In the letter quoted, she says
Anything I shall ever write will owe so much, so much, to you ... As I think more about literature [...] I realise more and more how crucial for me is everything you write. [...] I would do anything for you, be anything you wished me, come to you at any time or place [but] you don't need me in the way in which I need you.

(I've included the extracts as given in the Guardian. It's not made clear if she wrote in English or French, though. The French versions in Le Monde could be the originals.)

I haven't read much Murdoch, to be fair, but the reason I didn't read more is precisely because what I did read seemed to lack the qualities that attract me in Queneau's writing: playfulness, verbal invention, an engagement with current idiomatic speech. Maybe she saw in him the things her writing lacked. So this is like finding that Andrew Lloyd Webber was a passionate fan of Stockhausen.

The article in Le Monde suggests that the guardians of the Murdoch temple might now wish to reread her work, to trace the influence of Queneau in it. Good luck to them, if they do. I won't.

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