I’ve just finished reading ‘The Sea, The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch, which I have really enjoyed. I thought I’d read some of the things that others thought, and there are some really interesting ideas in the links below. For what it’s worth – I really enjoyed reading about Charles Arrowby’s self deception. There are a couple of passages in which Arrowby describes his feelings of first love and of rejection, confusion and anger when this first and he says only real love leaves him which are incredibly evocative of the confusion of being young and so vulnerable.
The readers who comment on the attached links made much of Arrowby’s self deception, and some claim that he finds some sort of spiritual maturing. These are clear themes in the book – but I think that the temporary nature of such revalation is also made clear. At the end of the book, Arrowby slowly re-engages with the world that he imagines he has left behind. The lasting awareness is that he has deceived himself in two ways; in that he used the image of his first love as an excuse not to give himself up to another; and that even in this insight he was in turn deceived. The most touching and lasting insight is his memory of accompanying and caring for an older lover as she spends her last days alive. This memory shows that the young love was an illusion to which he clung, and which prevented him from seeing that in his relationship with the older woman he had done the good which he is supposedly seeking at the sart of the novel.
If, upon reading this, you’re thinking ‘hey, I’d like to buy that book’, you could do a lot worse that visit http://www.mrbsemporium.com/index.php/books/9780099284093/sea_the_sea , a fantastic bookshop in the centre of Bath, run by some friends of mine.