I have read 16 novels by Iris Murdoch. I used to count her as one of my favorite authors, but after re-reading The Italian Girl last week, I’m not so sure I like her much anymore. I’ve always felt like her novels were a bit soap opera-esque. Lots of educated, upper class folks hopping around from bed to bed in somewhat unsavory or unlikely combinations. They always seemed like intellectual bodice rippers.
Prior to re-reading it, I didn’t remember much of anything about The Italian Girl. The result this time was that I found it somewhat tedious and the characters insufferable–but not in an interesting way. Have my tastes changed that much? When I first read it in 2003 I gave it an 8 out of 10. I think now I would give it a 4. On my 10-point scale that would take it from “almost loved” to “almost disliked”. Have I been wrong about all of my other Murdoch experiences? The first one I read was Under the Net in 1999 and I gave it a 10 which translates to “all time favorite”. What would I think of that one I wonder?
In addition to the 16 I have already read, I have quite a few more on my shelf that I haven’t gotten to yet. I have a tendency to burn bridges, clean house, etc. and in this case I am looking at all the real estate Murdoch takes up on my shelves and am feeling the urge to do something radical. I would probably end up living to regret that. I think I probably need to re-read Under the Net to see if I can rekindle my interest. I know I also really kind of liked The Sea, The Sea, and The Bell, and I also remember meeting two wonderful women at the Barbara Pym conference in 2013 who are best book pals because of their shared love of A Severed Head, which I haven’t read. I guess I must resist the urge to clear my Murdoch shelf. On the other hand, I should probably also resist buying any more of her work until I can figure out how I really feel.