For the very first time, I’ve actually read my latest #IMreadalong book during the month selected by Liz @Adventures in Reading. The September read was The Nice and the Good first published in 1968 (a very good year, I might add) which makes it 50 years old.
- Let’s give the historians something to write about.
- Love is fostered by confidence and constancy; he who is able to give much is able also to love much.
- Let each man have the wit to go his own way.
- To each man at his birth nature has given some fault.
- If you see anything, always deny that you’ve seen; or if perchance something pains you, deny that you’re hurt.
- Anyone who is an enemy of mine, let him love women, but let he who is my friend rejoice in men.
- Afflicted by love’s madness all are blind.
- Let each man pass his days in that endeavour wherein his gift is greatest.
- Never change when love has found its home.
- Let no one be willing to speak ill of the absent.
- Love can be put off, never abandoned
- At last, an injury suffered brings you back to my bed, expelling you from the doors of another.
- Tell me who is able to keep his bed chaste, or which goddess is able to live with one god alone?
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
|Propertius And Cynthia At Tivoli by Auguste Jean-Baptiste Vinchon|
The figures at the top of the picture are Time and Truth, who are drawing back a blue veil to reveal the ecstatic kiss which Cupid is giving to his Mother. The wailing figure behind Cupid is Jealousy. Beyond the plump faced girl with the scaly tail represents Deceit. Paula noticed for the first time the strangeness of the girl’s hands, and then saw that they were reversed, the right hand on the left arm, the left hand on the right arm. Truth stares, Time moves. But the butterfly kissing goes on, the lips just brushing, the long shining bodies juxtaposed with almost awkward tenderness, not quite embracing. How like Richard it all is, she thought, so intellectual, so sensual.
Is it liking or loathing? He lacks human warmth, you could say. He doesn’t feel for his sitters as Rembrandt felt for his. He is intellectually removed. He scorns or inwardly mocks just as much as he preens and flatters.
The Independent 2012, Great Works: An Allegory with Venus and Cupid, By Bronzino by Michael Glover
Murdoch is a particular type of English writer. Intellectual, distant, cool. The lack of warmth in her writing and the confusing messages about love and goodness are making me doubt whether I care to know any more about the philosophical musings of Simone Weil, Plato or Murdoch.
I underlined a lot of sections, but on rereading them, found that most of them were significant within the story and revealed much about IM, but very few of them felt significant to me.
I did like, towards the end,
Perhaps there were spirits, perhaps there were evil spirits, but they were little things. The great evil, the dreadful evil, that which made war and slavery and all man’s inhumanity to man lay in the cool self-justifying ruthless selfishness of quite ordinary people.
The past is gone, it doesn’t exist any more. However, things that do exist are responsibilities occasioned by the past and also our thoughts about it, which we may not find it very easy to control.
Without the extra research I think I would find these books rather dull and uninspiring. It’s the layers that make them interesting in an intellectual way, but it’s very hard to feel any emotions or care very much about any of her characters.
I appreciate Murdoch’s books but I don’t love them.
P.S. The foot on the left hand side of Bronzino’s painting is the one famously used by the Monty Python crew.
P.P.S. The painting is hanging in the New York headquarters of the horologists in David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.
The Nice and the Good was shortlisted for the 1969 Booker Prize.