Original Research

‘Listening at the threshold’ – A reading of religion in some excerpts from three of Iris Murdoch’s novels: Henry and Cato, Nuns and soldiers and The unicorn

Stella Prozesky
Literator | Vol 34, No 1 | a32 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v34i1.32 | © 2013 Stella Prozesky | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 July 2012 | Published: 25 March 2013

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Stella Prozesky,, South Africa

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This article examined the religious aspect of some excerpts from three of Iris Murdoch’s novels according to a Christian theory of reading. However, the length and scope of this article did not encompass a discussion of Murdoch’s overarching philosophy. Some justification was given for the adoption of a Christian theory of reading as opposed to a deconstructive, Marxist or psychoanalytical theory. The contention of the article was that, though Murdoch herself did not espouse orthodox Christian faith, there is in her work – when she is writing about religion in the three novels under consideration – an ‘echo of the Divine’, such as that described by Laurence Hemming, which is both authentic and strikingly compatible with orthodox Christian spirituality. The aim of the article was therefore to record some impressions, ask a pertinent question, and ponder some possible answers regarding the nature of this ‘echo of the Divine’ to be found in the extracts selected from these three novels.


Iris Murdoch; novels; Henry and Cato; Nuns and soldier; The unicorn


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