Books: It Tolls, but for Whom?

THE BELL (342 pp.)—Iris Murdoch—Viking ($4.50).

This is conceivably the only novel ever written in which a boy tries to seduce a girl in a recumbent church bell. The would-be lovers fail, but that is because the clapper gives off a frightful clang that scares them both frigid. All of this will come as no surprise to fans of British Novelist Iris Murdoch (The Sandcastle), a philosophy-teaching Oxford don and an intellectual pixy whose wit ends in tears, whose sentences are transparent while her meanings are opaque.

The setting of The Bell is a lay community of semi-contemplatives, a kind of British Brook...

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