The Book and the Brotherhood
First edition cover
|Publisher||Chatto & Windus|
|LC Class||PR6063.U7 B66 1987|
The Book and the Brotherhood is the 23rd novel of Iris Murdoch, first published in 1987. Considered by some critics to be among her best novels, is the story of a group of close friends living in England in the 1980s. The book of the title is a theoretical work on Marxism, supposed to have been written by David Crimond, an exile from this circle of friends. After graduating from Oxford University, the protagonists banded together to finance Crimond in writing the book. He never produced it, yet out of a sense of duty this brotherhood continues to pay him a stipend each year.
That is the backstory. When the novel opens, Crimond has resurfaced, book nearly finished. His sudden appearance sets off a chain of events that nearly destroys the lives of everyone in the story.
Crimond is a classic example of Murdoch's "enchanter" archetype: the charismatic, powerful man who inspires others to devote themselves to him, for reasons apparent to no one.
The Book and the Brotherhood is notable for its unusual emotional intensity, its finely-drawn characters, and the magnificent, wide-ranging opening scene, in which Crimond appears at an Oxford ball and every major character in the novel is introduced.