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Man-Cub and Word-Child: A Comparative Approach to the Essential Murdoch Novel

North University, Baia Mare

Considering A Word Child the essential Murdoch novel, the author of the present essay proposes a new approach, based upon the comparison with Kipling’s The Jungle Books and Kim. Instead of following current interpretations concerned with the “story,” the argumentation is built around two apparently opposed concepts, Kipling’s “man cub” and Murdoch’s “word child,” which the latter hyphenates in order to make man’s dual nature contained in them even more evident. This reveals a deeper level of the book and the hidden thematic layers, suggesting that Iris Murdoch has fictionalized both analytic philosophy and her own moral philosophy in an exemplary character and a double plot showing his moral progress due to different forms of education. The message that the novel conveys is ultimately that it is not enough to say the word or show love: the absolution of sins and salvation can be achieved only by a spiritual, selfless love.

Iris Murdoch, philosophy, dualism, education, morality, love, sin, salvation, selflessness


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