Dame Jean Iris Murdoch (15 July 1919 – 8 February 1999) was an Anglo-Irish novelist and philosopher, famed for her series of novels that combine rich characterization and compelling plotlines usually involving ethical or sexual themes. Her life-story was filmed in 2001 as Iris.
- The chief requirement of the good life... is to live without any image of oneself.
- The Bell (2001), ch. 9, p. 119. (1958)
- We can only learn to love by loving.
- The Bell (2001), ch. 19, p. 219.
- Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality.
- "The Sublime and the Good", in the Chicago Review, Vol. 13 Issue 3 (Autumn 1959) p. 51.
- Only lies and evil come from letting people off.
- A Severed Head (1976) p. 61. (1961)
- There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for-granted relationship.
- A Severed Head (1976) p. 181
- I think being a woman is like being Irish... Everyone says you're important and nice, but you take second place all the same.
- The Red and the Green (1965), ch. 2, p. 30.
- Being good is just a matter of temperament in the end.
- The Nice and the Good (1968), ch. 14, p. 127.
- Murdoch attributed this opinion to her character Kate Gray. It was not her own.
- Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. To be damned is for one's ordinary everyday mode of consciousness to be unremitting agonising preoccupation with self.
- The Nice and the Good, ch. 22.
- People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
- A Fairly Honourable Defeat (2001) p. 170. (1970)
- Almost anything that consoles us is a fake.
- The Sovereignty of Good (1970) p. 59.
- Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.
- The Black Prince (2003) p. 10. (1973)
- All art is the struggle to be, in a particular sort of way, virtuous.
- The Black Prince (2003) p. 181.
- Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved.
- The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974) p. 37.
- The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone's life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick or a self-destroying or even murderous obsession. Possibly, more people kill themselves and others out of hurt vanity than out of envy, jealousy, malice or desire for revenge.
- The Philosopher's Pupil (1983) p. 76.
- Whit Meynell was a sociologist; he had got into an intellectual muddle early on in life and never managed to get out.
- The Philosopher's Pupil (1983) p. 165.
- Art is the final cunning of the human soul which would rather do anything than face the gods.
- "Art and Eros: A Dialogue about Art", Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues (1986).
- Perhaps misguided moral passion is better than confused indifference.
- The Book and the Brotherhood (1987) p. 248.
- The cry of equality pulls everyone down.
- Quoted in The Observer September 13, 1987.
- But fantasy kills imagination, pornography is death to art.
- The Message to the Planet (1989) p. 43.
- I daresay anything can be made holy by being sincerely worshipped.
- The Message to the Planet (1989) p. 322.
- Perhaps when distant people on other planets pick up some wave-length of ours all they hear is a continuous scream.
- The Message to the Planet (1989) p. 509.
- The notion that one will not survive a particular catastrophe is, in general terms, a comfort since it is equivalent to abolishing the catastrophe.
- The Message to the Planet (1989) p. 532.
- A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia.
- Quoted in The Times (6 July 1989).
- Stuart was not dismayed by his sexual feelings about the boy.
- The Good Apprentice (1985) p. 247
- He felt neither guilt nor distress at the pleasure with which he was now filled by the proximity of this young creature, and when he discovered in himself even physical symptoms of his inclination he did not take fright, but continued cheerfully and serenely to see Nick whenever the ordinary run of his duties suggested it, congratulating himself upon the newly achieved solidity and rational calm of his spiritual life.
- The Bell (1958) p. 91
- Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.
- Falling out of love is very enlightening. For a short while you see the world with new eyes.
- Human affairs are not serious, but they have to be taken seriously.
- The priesthood is a marriage. People often start by falling in love, and they go on for years without realizing that love must change into some other love which is so unlike it that it can hardly be recognized as love at all.
- The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. (The Red and the Green, page 29 )