Books: Unbelievable Don

THE RED AND THE GREEN by Iris Murdoch. 31 1 pages. Viking. $5.

From the time she first set up shop as a novelist eleven years ago, Irish-born Iris Murdoch was accorded a respectful acclaim. Because she was then a philosophy don at Oxford, nobody seemed overly concerned about whether her fiction writing was good or bad; as with Dr. Johnson's famous walking dog, there was only a happy wonderment that she did it at all. Because her prose was lucid, and sometimes even poetic, it was assumed that she deliberately kept her meanings opaque, and she was credited with a sense...

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