Under the Net

A couple months ago, I happened to watch a movie on TV. It was a very interesting movie, and I found out that the movie was "Iris". "Iris" was Iris Murdoch's biographical film, especially after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, based on the memoir by John Bayley, her husband. Iris Murdoch (1919-1990) is a novelist and philosopher, from Ireland.

This novel, Under the Net, is Iris Murdock's first novel. The protagonist Jake is a novelist, but he hardly has his original works and is translating French novels for a living. He and his friend Finn who is like Jake's shadow are thrown out of his girlfriend's house when she becomes to get married. He is poor and becomes homeless. Since then he wanders about over London in search of a place to live. He visits his old friends, but it doesn't work well.

Once Jake published "The Silencer" that was the philosophical dialogue with Hugo before without telling Hugo before and so Jake guiltily broke ties with Hugo. Now Hugo gets fame and wealth as a filmmaker. Jake looks for Hugo, and goes to Paris to look for old girlfriend Anna. Eventually he works in a hospital as an orderly and finds injured Hugo by chance. Jake talks with Hugo and they understand each other and escape from the hospital together.

Hugo throws away his fame and wealth and disappears again to become a watchmaker. Finn disappears as well, and was gone to Ireland. Now Jake is alone with Mars, a movie star dog that Jake kidnapped from Sadie and Sammy. He realizes that he didn't understand Hugo, Sadie, Anna and even Finn. He also didn't understand French novelist who he was translating. He decides to work as an orderly at a hospital and to start his life as a writer again.

There are some impressive scenes in this book. The scene that Jake looks for Hugo around St Paul's Cathedral with Finn and Dave who is a philosopher and a friend of Jake's. And Jake meets Lefty, a leftist leader, in a pub. After that they go to the Thames and swim together at night. The scene that Jake kidnaps Mars from Sammy's flat. The scene that Jake eavesdrops the conspiracy of Sadie and Sammy at the landing of the fire escape. The scene that Jake goes to Paris to look for Anna and wanders to pursue her at a fireworks event along the Seine. And so on. Those are comical and sometimes pathetic.

Jake's wandering to look for his house is the journey of his life itself. This book is depicted with comical touch and her philosophical background. I don't know the author's philosophical view. I think her philosophy might be reflected in Hugo. But I'm sure you can enjoy reading this book without understanding her philosophy.

The last word in this book;
"I don't know why it is," I said. "It's just one of the wonders of the world."

Comments

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