Books: Murdochisms

THE MESSAGE TO THE PLANET

by Iris Murdoch

Viking; 563 pages; $22.95

Novels by Dame Iris Murdoch are about as sturdy and reliable as a well-made trench coat. The reader can count on several things from these lengthy dissections of the British intelligentsia, and the new installment, her 24th, is no exception. One can be sure, for instance, that demon lust and his faithful servant, self-deception, will make fools of the witty, wise and powerful. There will probably be a maddeningly masochistic woman and a childish, manipulative man. A young person, usually a girl, will act as an unsparing force of...

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