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The Sea, The Sea by [Murdoch, Iris]
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The Sea, The Sea New Ed , Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 562 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN BURNSIDE

When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3249 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (29 December 2008)
  • Sold by: PRH UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031RS78Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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This story of the obsessive love of an egocentric and delusional retired theatre actor and director is compelling reading. It describes his chance meeting with the woman he loved in a small village where he has a cottage overlooking the sea and the repercussions for him and several of his friends. Iris Murdoch's depiction of the sea and its changing moods and colours is wondrous. You are not meant to like some of the characters, but you will never forget them. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 109 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iris Murdoch was my favourite author of the '70s 24 October 2016
By fran - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Iris Murdoch was my favourite author of the '70s. I decided to reread some of her works and have started with "The Sea The Sea".
Often when one rereads a book they read earlier in their lives, one is disappointed. However, that was not the case here.
Her erudition is next to none, but her writing flows easily. Her characters seem larger than life, but, on reflection, they are really the same people we have around us, and of course even ourselves. Through these characters, she examines the human condition with amazing plots and twists and turns. Still one of my very favourite authors. I always feel sorry when one of her books end, and live with it for days after.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He did not put down his mask 15 August 2012
By Italo Perazzoli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The sea, the sea is a tale of a self satisfied retired man.

Charles Arrowby is a successful playwright and director, during his working life he lived in London.

For many reason he decides to write his memoir in a remote location washed by the sea he will be haunted by the philosophical meaning of masks wore during his plays.

During his voyage he will discover his true personality made of egotism, selfishness and the meaning of love which is interpreted by Mary Hartley Fitch and Lizzie.

"But now the main events of my life are over and there is to be nothing but `recollection in tranquility'. To repent of a life of egoism? Not exactly, yet something of the sort. Of course I never said this to the ladies and gentlemen of the theater. They would never have stopped laughing"

(The sea, the sea, Penguin 20th Century Classics, Iris Murdoch, page 1)

The main argument of this novel is the synergy between our daily theatrical mask and our consciousness perfectly interpreted by Charles.

In my opinion Charles is conscious that his theatrical life has been a play, he feels unsatisfied because he did not understand the human behavior and its actions, in other words his philosophical questions about the meaning of love and jealousy are unresolved, this imply that he has failed his personal `Recollection in tranquility.'

"Hartley made a permanent metaphysical crisis of my life by refusing me for moral reasons. Did this lead me to make immorality my mask?"

(The sea, the sea, Penguin 20th Century Classics, Iris Murdoch, Kindle's location 1805)

It is clear that the theater is a metaphor of our life, here Charles is conscious that he was not able to distinguish his professional life from his private life, in other words he recognize that he is possessed by the theater and his actions and arguments has been written by the audience's taste.

This means that the sea will be a sort of inner redemption where he will know himself.

"Titus's body was conveyed to a hospital in a town many miles away, and was there received into the merciful anonymity of cremation"

(The sea, the sea, Penguin 20th Century Classics, Iris Murdoch, Kindle's location 7162)

Personally behind this phrase there is a profound reasoning on the existence of God or better the essence of our souls against the `anonymity of cremation' as a metaphor of atheism.

In my opinion the maturation of Charles starts after the death of his son Titus, recognizing that he has not be a good father conscious and repented of his late maturation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sea, the Sea is a dense psychological study of a complex man which provides a great reading experience 14 November 2012
By C. M Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
"The Sea, the Sea" is a 1978 Iris Murdoch novel. The book is quite lengthy at 495 pages in the Penguin Edition. The book won the Booker Prize which is Great Britain's most prestigious literary award. Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) is the prolific Irish-Anglo author of this searing work. The novel is slow moving as are many British novels but packs a powerful emotional punch as we delve deeply into the mind and life of the narrator who tells his own story.
The Plot: Charles Arrowby is the narrator of the novel. Arrowby is a famous playwright who is known for his longterm relationship with the deceased actress Clement Makin. He has also had many sexual relationships with prominent actresses. Among these women are Lizzie and Rosina who both visit Charles at his home called Shruff End. Charles Arrowby seeks to retire to a remote cliffside home in the north of Great Britain. There he plans on catching up on his reading, writing his autobiography and savoring the seaside atmosphere. Every day finds him swimming nude in the sea at his doorstep. This idyll is soon to be disturbed by several of his friends who visit from London and elsewhere.
One day while walking in the village (Arrowby does not like the villagers) he spies an older woman who turns out to be his first love. Her name is Mary Hartley Smith Fitch. Mary is married to the morose Ben Fitch. The couple have been married for years; they have an adopted son who is named Titus. Titus is a bright young man who has quit a course in electronics. His desire is to become an actor. Arrowby wants to adopt the lad and mentor him in an acting career. Ben Fitch believes that Titus is the natural son of Arrowby and that Hartely has proven unfaithful to him during their stormy marriage. Arrowby pleads with Hartely to run away with him. Hartley has grown fat and old lacking any intellectual acuity. She is highly emotional and easily disturbed. Charles' perceptive cousin James Arrowby a retired General in the British Army advises Charles to drop Hartley. She is his "Beatrice" whom he has idealized over a long life of playwrighting in the London theatre district. Charles keeps Hartely as a "prisoner" in his home for a few days. Will she leave her husband for Charles Arrowby or will she emigrate with Ben to a new life in Australia? In this midst of all this soap operish confusion there is a tragedy when one of the major characters dies in a horrendous accident. Charles who can be viewed as a rescuer of damsels in distress or as a puppet master selfish and jealous manipulator gives the reader a lot to analyze and consider when judging the narrator's tale.
Murdoch's plots are complex. There are long passages in which the Oxford philsopher author enjoys musing on the mysteries of love and death. Her major characters come from the upper and wealthier classes in England. Dialogue is well seasoned with literary and classical allusions. Symbols abound from the sea to the martello tower to the story of Icarus in mythology. Murdoch writes for an audience of bright and literary people. She is not everyone's cup of tea. Though the prose sparkles many will find the story a tedious slog. Those of us who enjoy Murdoch will be eager to introduce other readers to this fine author. Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable read 28 May 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An authentic and well written book which brings it straight into the category of good literature. I was chagrined when the book ended as if I was parting from a good friend. Charles Appleby leaves an indelible impression in one's mind of a character you cannot easily judge. Generally in a first person narrative one befriends the protagonist straight out. However Murdoch first successfully makes us doubt this person"s moral promptings and then at the end makes us feel some kind of empathy for him. I will be contemplating this book in my mind for a long time...
77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confronting the monster of one's ego 11 November 2002
By D. Cloyce Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The first section of this novel, "Prehistory," seems interminable at times. The British director Charles Arrowby has retired to a drafty old house by the sea to write his memoirs. He begins in diary form, relating his daily regime, detailing his fastidiously prepared meals, recalling with fondness (and condescension) people in his life, dismissing others who have crossed him, and reminiscing about the one "true love" of his life, who inexplicably left him when he was a youth. With the exception of one or two mysterious incidents (at one point, he thinks he sees a dragon in the sea), so little happens in the first 87 pages that anyone will wonder, why am I reading this?
It's a set-up. After this lengthy prologue, people from Arrowby's past begin arriving at his doorstep or in the nearby village, shattering the tranquil atmosphere of his retirement and belying the gist of his memories. As the one character who Arrowby had earlier described as "very attached to me" says in anger: "You're an exploded myth.... You never did anything for mankind, you never did a damn thing for anybody but yourself." The reader quickly realizes that Arrowby is an egotistical boor who, under the guise of "love," wielded power and fear over the people in his life. Then, as the horde of Londoners from his past continue to invade his new home and complicate his life, he unexpectedly runs into his adolescent flame--and he convinces himself that, trapped in a marriage he regards as repulsive, she still has feelings for him.
What follows is both hilarious and heart-rending--and often excruciating to read. Charles Arrowby is not a likeable character; he is, in fact, detestable. And the life he remembers is not how his "friends" recall it. As his cousin asks him, "What is the truth anyway...? As we know ourselves we are fake objects, fakes, bundles of illusions." In the scene previous to this conversation, Arrowby is in a museum, examining Titian's "Perseus and Andromeda," which depicts Perseus rescuing Andromeda from a dragon. Murdoch's novel asks (and here I oversimplify): who's really the monster? who's the rescuer? who indeed needs to be rescued? and at what expense?
Be warned: For this Penguin edition Mary Kinzie has provided one of those annoying introductions that would make an excellent afterword. Much of her essay is incomprehensible unless you've read the novel, and it gives away many important plot elements, including the pivotal climax. Happy is the reader who waits until finishing the novel to read this incisive summary.

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