Iris Murdoch: A Word Child

(2274 words)

A Word Child is the seventeenth of Iris Murdoch's twenty-six novels. Hilary Burde, the “word child” of the title, is the fifth of her six unreliable first-person male narrators. He is one of Murdoch's “maimed monsters” and “accidental men”. This novel shows Murdoch at the height of her novelistic powers and in full control of a sophisticated narrative technique. It exemplifies Murdoch's unique gifts identified by her admirers, but it also manifests besetting her faults as they have seemed to her detractors. In both matter and manner, A Word Child is a quintessentially “Murdochian” novel.

As an illegitimate orphan, Hilary shares a troubled childhood with his half-sister Crystal, with whom he i…

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White, Frances Clare Patricia. "A Word Child". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 October 2006
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]