The Book and the Brotherhood

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The Book and the Brotherhood

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1sibylline
Set 5, 2013, 4:05pm

I haven't started it yet, but it is my September Murdoch.

2sibylline
Set 12, 2013, 10:12am

At the end of Part One (of three) ---- the cast of characters is assembled and in play. At the core is a charismatic man, Crimond, was was part of but never at the center of a group of Oxford friends who, when young, considered themselves political radicals.... however all except Crimond have drifted away. Two women are central members of the group, Jean a fellow 'briliant' Oxonian and Rose, I think ditto, but also the sister of a brother everyone adored - men and women - who died young, of course. Years ago for some insane reason, the friends and a few others banded together to provide Crimond with a stipend so he could write his 'book' - which of course he hasn't..... On the love front, since there always is one, Jean was married to Duncan but then went off w/Crimond, then came back to Duncan and now appears to be going off with Crimond again. There is also a younger set, all at or just finishing Oxford themselves now, including Tamar, a neice of one of the original group members whose father has just died and...... you get the picture. There was a lovely description in fact of the son Gerard sitting by the bedside of his father, just deceased, reflecting, vintage Iris and beautiful. Part 2 is the longest section..... so wish me luck!

3sibylline
Set 12, 2013, 10:13am

Oh - and i would add - so far it is falling between one of the horrible books and one of the lighter ones..... my feeling is that there will be some horrible event, given the presence of Crimond. God I cringe when a man says 'You can live with me only if you do what I want.' and the woman - a smart and capable one says, "Of course." You know it can only end in total disaster.

4LyzzyBee
Set 12, 2013, 2:27pm

Glad you're engaging deeply with it. Best parrot in literature and my favourite character in the whole of IM in this one!

5munro
Set 28, 2013, 4:20pm

I think this one may be my favorite...sibyx, have you finished it yet?

6sibylline
Editado: Set 28, 2013, 6:49pm

No.... I got distracted by RL and other books, however, I plan to get back to it this weekend, including spending a little time here writing about it so far. I'm about in the middle of it - I feel a classic IM shift coming on, where a character you've been happily loathing is suddenly going to become more recognizably human - yes - Crimond. What a name!! I don't think this will be my favorite, but I recognize that it combines features of both her darker and lighter books - The Bell might do that also more than some.

I've also decided since I'm only halfway that it will be my October IM as well. The big question I'm facing, in fact, is whether to continue my IM reading as intensely in 2014. If only all my issues were of that ilk, however!

Lyzzy, I'm afraid the ultimate parrot is in DFW's The Broom of the System. Truly. He's a major character and becomes an evangelist tv star and well, he's beyond awesome.

7LyzzyBee
Set 29, 2013, 5:22am

Fair enough re having at as a two month IM read - when we did our chronological read of IM we went to one every two months around Nuns and Soldiers.

8sibylline
Out 2, 2013, 7:21pm

I've been quite terrible at posting about B&B. Even though I care for almost all of the characters, I'm finding the story a little bit histrionic or something, and for the last 100 pages it's gone from one ugly crisis to the next and I can see that there is going to be one more ghastly occurrence before the end of Part 2 (part of the reason I haven't reported in is that it never feels quite like the right time as this section is very long and it kind of builds and builds.

There have, however, been some amazing IM moments in the midst of the menacing storm - Lily suddenly skating beautifully and surprising herself and everyone, the Guy Fawkes party at Gerard's - she perfectly captures the ritualistic imperatives and vicissitudes of an annual party, Gulliver's interlude in the train station, and of course, Jean's altered state as she tries and fails to do as Crimond asks.....

The amount of 'not-telling' that goes on sometimes achieves the unbelievable - all the misery in the story flows from things not said, not told .....

Along with dread I'm also feeling a bit bad-tempered about what is coming. I've no patience any more with male rivalry over 'a woman' and the need for revenge and one-up and all that. I'd be interested to know what Iris herself made of such stuff - human nature, I suppose, she would have said. Inevitable, unavoidable.

No more sympathy, not one iota for Crimond, who is clearly a sociopath. IM does illustrate the power that the sociopathic focus and ruthlessness can have over the rest of us.

9sibylline
Out 12, 2013, 6:07pm

i have finished at long last and here is my review......

As you can see, I've rated B&B highly - what follows may sound contradictory, but it isn't: B&B is in some ways the most difficult of Murdoch's books that I've yet tackled - the only one that comes close was THE SEA, THE SEA which was my first Murdoch, back in December last year. B&B features a group of aging friends from college days. Specifically several of them formed a group to support David Crimond the one among them considered the most brilliant (but also poor) while he writes an 'important book.' Thirty and some odd years have gone by and the book is not yet done, Crimond is never asked about it, is understood to be working on it. During that time various things have happened, important people have died, a terrible affair between Crimond and one of the 'brotherhood's married members, Jean, married to Duncan, also part of the group. The book opens at a dance at Oxford, a summer ball, (there are some odd echoes of Shakespeare throughout) where people wander about, lose and find each other, but the most critical event is that Jean and Crimond after, say, a fifteen or twenty year period, get back together. This sets in train event after event, and each character plays a part and subsequently wonders if they caused all the trouble that ensues. By the third quarter of the book all friendships appear to be unraveling, terrible events take place, despair possesses pretty much everyone but the bloody-minded happy few. Crimond forms a 'mysterious' magnetic center to the book, as mysterious and unknowable in his brilliance (it is implied) as a man like Jesus Christ. Murdoch has hinted this before that there are people out there, generally men (at least I haven't yet encountered a Murdochian woman with these traits) who are catalysts, who draw change in their wake. They are irresistible to men and women alike and despite their dangerousness, are exhilarating and wonderful people to be around - you cannot like Crimond, you can only love him, admire him - or hate him with murderous passion. These magnetic characters, featured in the bleaker Murdoch novels, make for dark and sometimes difficult but always rewarding reading. Murdoch can present a brilliant person convincingly, as well as a lot of very intelligent and thoughtful and complex people, which is more than most writers can do. It makes for uncomfortable but rewarding reading. ****1/2

10LyzzyBee
Out 13, 2013, 3:13am

Have you read A Severed Head yet? That has a female enchanter.

Oddly enough, Mr LB has read The Sea, The Sea and Book and the Brotherhood, loved the first, hated the second!

11sibylline
Editado: Out 13, 2013, 12:28pm

Ah yes, Honor Klein? Yes, you are right. And actually the young painter in one of my very favorites so far - The Sandcastle - she has potential to grow up to be someone compelling - she has 'genius' as a painter and this separates her.