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The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Iris Murdoch The Sea The Sea book cover

Themes of solitary existence, retrospective reflections, and confronting intense suppressed feelings dominate the story so far...

Descriptions of nature are used to convey deeper thoughts and emotions, a sense of identity is also being extracted from the way nature behaves, its impenetrability, and chaos.

The main character is very critical of existence, his own, and other people. He's acutely aware of his presence in their lives and of their presence in his. This makes his observations more potent and interesting to read.

A sense of self is incisively realized (by the main character) with the eternal sea, the cliffs, and all the nature around him. The lack of humans makes natural elements human-like and expressive.

The relation of art as in theatre, the failures of the human condition, and pity for that very quality is so well interpreted. Iris Murdoch has communicated through the main character, Charles, such a severe yet transparent understanding of what haunts us as humans and the fear of our confrontation with the banality and emptiness of life.

"The sense of loneliness was far more intense than it had been under the stars.”

Iris Murdoch cleverly morphs the dichotomy between objective and subjective reality. A critic called it "art as pure villain." The main character's loneliness and misery are tied to the length and breadth of the sea while his capacity of self-delusion and egotistical madness to that of its depth.

It's so weird that yesterday, in a Marvel animated series, What If, Dr. Strange is told by someone that "there is a difference between devotion and delusion." And this statement fits so perfectly with the story's essence.


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