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Faith and failure: religious perspectives on a secular society in the novels of Iris Murdoch and Patrick White

By Pamela Osborn


This thesis will explore the connection between Iris Murdoch and Patrick White's 'religious' and moral thinking as manifested in their novels. It begins by considering the importance of the quotidian in the work of both authors as the focus of attention in an increasingly secular age, in contrast to the work of existentialists, in particular, Jean-Paul Sartre, who view both a central moral framework and the quotidian as unnecessary. I will focus upon Murdoch's The Time of the Angels, in which, I will argue, her positioning of the quotidian within morality is most evident, and White's Voss, which challenges the existentialists' contempt for the quotidian. The thesis moves on to consider the similarities between Murdoch and White's emphasis on the importance of attempting to be a good person and will explore what 'being good' means to both authors. The discussion will centre upon Murdoch's The Good Apprentice and White's The Solid Mandala and A Fringe of Leaves. Finally, I will explore Murdoch and White's emphasis upon the importance of retaining the concept of Christ as a human being for secular use as an example of goodness. The core texts for this chapter are Murdoch's Nuns and Soldiers and White's Riders in the Chariot and Voss

Topics: english, philosophy, theology
Publisher: Kingston University
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