A Word Child by Iris Murdoch

By Iris Murdoch

A superb yet deeply wrong guy struggles to earn absolution

Hilary Burde was once a emerging megastar in academia until eventually a sad coincidence plunged him and his mentor and rival, Gunnar Jopling, into 20 years of melancholy and guilt. Hilary, not able to beat his soreness, deserted his promising occupation for an unfulfilling task as a civil servant. yet at age 41, Hilary crosses paths back with Gunnar—initiating a chain of occasions that may switch their lives forever. 

Set opposed to a richly drawn backdrop of post-war London, A be aware Child is a gripping tale of ardour and the redemptive strength of affection.

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A plunderer . . a fester and a wound upon the noble character of the Coketown operative’’ (Hard Times, p. 188). ‘‘Gnashing and perspiring after a prodigious sort . . demonstratively panting’’ (Hard Times, p. 189) at his credulous audience of factory hands, Slackbridge becomes a figure of over-embodied demagogic speech. Management’s unfair condemnation of Stephen Blackpool as a thief thus demonstrates the negative power of the Victorian public sphere when speech operates in cahoots with print to suppress the truth.

L. ’’ But in writing a prose that aspired to the purely imaginary ideal of disembodied voice, Carlyle hit upon a style of literary language that possessed both the charisma of speech and print’s power to circulate to a national readership. That is to say – and ironically so, considering his disdain for fiction – Carlyle found the language that became characteristic of the genre of the Victorian novel. This language may be understood in the context of media theorist Friedrich Kittler’s argument about the emergence of what he calls the European ‘‘discourse network’’ of 1800 – a new ideology of childhood pedagogy that defined a maternal voice as the source of language acquisition.

These novelists thus claim the power of a healing voice for their own writing. Isaac Pitman’s invention of the shorthand system of phonography in 1837 defined the Victorian period itself as phonographic – obsessed with print’s relationship to voice and with the effects of transcribing or writing voice. Voice began to be represented as the ideal to which writing aspired; oral utterance now became a signifier of the human in a culture in which language seemed threatened by industry and utilitarian system.

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