Books: Figures in a Moral Pattern

THE PHILOSOPHER'S PUPIL by Iris Murdoch; Viking; 576 pages; $17.75

This is Iris Murdoch's 21st novel. Her fecundity is remarkable, but even more so is the manner in which she has written her books. Allegory, that stately, illustrated progress toward foregone conclusions, worked best in ages of faith, when author and readers agreed on the subjects of good and evil. Such has not been the case since roughly the time of Edmund Spenser and his Faerie Queene, yet Murdoch, a philosophy don at Oxford, has successfully built a career on this outdated literary...

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