Iris Murdoch: A Fairly Honourable Defeat

(2216 words)
  • Tammy Grimshaw

One of Iris Murdoch’s more successful novels, A Fairly Honourable Defeat combines elements of realism and allegory to create a commentary on the moral shortcomings of the individual and society. The book opens as Hilda and Rupert Foster, an ostensibly happily-married couple, anticipate their forthcoming twentieth anniversary party. Murdoch sets the scene and introduces the main characters in the first chapter of this novel as Hilda and Rupert talk about Morgan Browne, Hilda’s sister, who has devised a new linguistic theory called Glossematics. Morgan has just returned to England from South Carolina, where she had a two-year extra-marital relationship with Julius King, one of the “power figures” in Murdoch’…

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Grimshaw, Tammy. "A Fairly Honourable Defeat". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 January 2004
[, accessed 05 July 2015.]