Iris Murdoch: A Severed Head

(2272 words)
  • Tammy Grimshaw

A Severed Head (1961) was one of Murdoch’s most commercially successful novels, being made into a major motion picture starring Lee Remick in 1970. A witty yet cutting comedy of manners, the novel begins as Martin Lynch-Gibbon, one of Murdoch’s first-person male narrators, lies in post-coital bliss with his mistress Georgie Hands in her cluttered flat. It is through Martin’s conversation with Georgie in Chapter 1 that the reader is introduced to the colourful, convoluted cast of characters in this novel: Martin is married to Antonia. Antonia’s analyst is Palmer Anderson, and Palmer’s half-sister is Honor Klein, who, like Georgie, is a university professor. Martin tells us that he has no qualms with …

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Grimshaw, Tammy. "A Severed Head". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 March 2007
[, accessed 10 October 2015.]