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Quotes by Iris Murdoch

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Iris Murdoch. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Iris Murdoch

Dame Jean Iris Murdoch ( MUR-dok; 15 July 1919 – 8 February 1999) was an Irish and British novelist and philosopher. Murdoch is best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. Her first published novel, Under the Net, was selected in 1998 as one of Modern Library's 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Her 1978 novel The Sea, the Sea won the Booker Prize. In 1987, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked Murdoch twelfth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Her other books include The Bell (1958), A Severed Head (1961), The Red and the Green (1965), The Nice and the Good (1968), The Black Prince (1973), Henry and Cato (1976), The Philosopher's Pupil (1983), The Good Apprentice (1985), The Book and the Brotherhood (1987), The Message to the Planet (1989), and The Green Knight (1993).

One doesn't have to get anywhere in a marriage. It's not a public conveyance.

Falling out of love is very enlightening.
For a short while you see the world with new eyes.

Falling out of love is very enlightening; for a short while you see the world with new eyes.

Guilt feelings so often arise from accusations rather than from crimes.

One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.

I think being a woman is like being Irish... Everyone says you're important and nice, but you take second place all the same.

We shall be better prepared for the future if we see how terrible, how doomed the present is.

Ludens felt that everyone around him was living in the present, a place where he certainly could not live.

By a dialectic well known to those who habitually succumb to temptation he passed in a second from the time when it was too early to struggle to the time when it was too late to struggle.

There is no beyond, there is only here, the infinitely small, infinitely great and utterly demanding present.

I tried to think these thoughts but they remained intolerably abstract, while a pain in my body told me what was real.

There is nothing like the bootless solitude of those who are caged together.

But one must do something about the past. It doesn't just cease to be. It goes on existing and affecting the present, and in new and different ways, as if in some other dimension it too were growing.

We are all potentially demons to each other, but some close relationships are saved from this fate.

You don't know what it is to want a man, any man. I wish I could discover some respectable male prostitutes, like civil servants or university dons who do it in their spare time for a bit of pocket money, there must be such people.

Why do I always have to be helping people ... and getting no help myself?

Let me sleep at last. I've had misery enough in my life. You said there was nowhere to go to. There is death to go to. I've had misery enough in my life.

But I had come to where I had never been before, the blessed point of sufficient desperation.

I'm made for misery, misery, misery, I'm made to be destroyed!

None of these things had really got to happen at all, since she could prevent them. The power of pure destruction was still hers. She could still make it death or glory.

Art is not cozy and it is not mocked. Art tells the only truth that ultimately matters. It is the light by which human things can be mended. And after art there is, let me assure you all, nothing.

It ceased at last, as everything dreadful has to cease, even if it ceases only by death.

What a test that is: more than devotion, admiration, passion. If you long and long for someone's company you love them.

What is God anyway?
A dark place.

You can't go through the looking-glass without getting cut. You know that now, don't you?

There's only one thing the matter and that's everything.

You are sad.
I am always sad.

The presence of the loved one is perhaps always accompanied by anxiety. Mortals must tremble, where angels might enjoy. But this one grain of darkness cannot be accounted a blemish. It graces the present moment with a kind of violence which makes an ecstasy of time.

I did love her in a way, but it was under the sign of doom.

The wound with which she travelled vibrated within her. She thought, I shall never have what I desire. I shall become bitter and defeated and dim, and I shall never really paint, I am a freak, a crippled animal, something to be put down, put to sleep, put out of its misery.

Happiness must exist. It can't all be made of pain. But what is happiness made of?

Is it true that the first time of falling in love is the worst?

My God, that bloody casket has fallen on the floor! Some people were hammering in the next flat and it fell off its bracket. The lid has come off and whatever was inside it has certainly got out. Upon the demon-ridden pilgrimage of human life, what next I wonder?

Starting this relationship seems to me one of the better things you've ever done, however it ends.
We can't separate it from how it ends.

Perhaps this 'dead' feeling was also brought on by an intensification of her old secret sorrow. Perhaps one day this sorrow might end. But she did not think it would end or see how it could end.

I must return to my freedom which I now realise is something so essential that it makes my love for you seem like death.

One's capacity to forget absolutely is immense.

The only cure here was death. They were both gone out of my life.

Mary held her heart, contracted into a point of agony.

But her heart was hurting her with its violence.

This thought was so heavy with despair that she almost began to cry again.

You're always wanting to be forgiven. What do you want to be forgiven for?

I felt at times, it is hard to describe this, almost mad with guilt, with a sort of general guilt about my whole life.

No good would come of all these fine intentions.

How had this weird idea been conceived, how had it grown until it seemed inevitable?

Don't be hurt by me.
I can't help being hurt.

These young people have got to suffer, we can't save them from it --.

Only let the scene end soon and without any horrors.

There is so much grit in the bottom of the container, almost all our natural preoccupations are low ones, and in most cases the rag-bag of consciousness is only unified by the experience of great art or of intense love. Neither of these was relevant to my messy and absent-minded goings-on.

How hardening to the heart it must be to do this thing: to change an innocent soaring being into a bundle of struggling rags and pain.

Only stories and magic really endure.

He was extremely angry with Bellamy who had, when Clement needed him, refused to be with him.

We did really love each other ... didn't we? Didn't we? In the name of that reality --

I think we belong to each other.

We are not isolated free choosers, monarchs of all we survey, but benighted creatures sunk in a reality whose nature we are constantly and overwhelmingly tempted to deform by fantasy.

I'm being led -- on some dark way.

Of course, my dear, I cannot, how could I, altogether regret what has happened.

Man's creative struggle, his search for wisdom and truth, is a love story.

These words had impressed Clement deeply, inscribed upon his heart.

Oh why is she going away just when I want so much to be with her! She is the answer to the riddle of my life.

He was capable of hurting Ludens even to the point sometimes of deliberate malice.

As it is I crawl on everyday towards the tomb. When I wake in the morning I think first of death, do you?

Perhaps after all not to have been born is best. How near the human soul must be to nothingness if it can be so tossed.

So art becomes not communication but mystification.

He lay on his back listening to his mother's quiet snoring and thinking how increasingly awful his life was becoming. It was as if he were being squeezed out of the world.

I've felt as if I didn't exist, as if I were invisible, miles away from the world, miles away. You can't imagine how much alone I've been all my life.

The place was still there, present in the sunshine, instead of being hidden far away in darkness in the confines of some tragic opera.

What follows is ambiguous and sometimes tortuously told. Man's searchings and his strugglings are ambiguous and vowed to hidden ways. Those who live by that dark light will understand.

To describe one's character is difficult and not necessarily illuminating. The story which follows will reveal, whether I will or no, what sort of person I am.

Willy seemed like an inhabitant of some other dimension who could only tenuously communicate with the ordinary world. This would have troubled her less if she had not imagined his other dimension as a place of horror.

What a mystery a marriage was. What a strange and violent world, the world of matrimony. I was glad to be outside it. The idea of it filled me with a sort of queasy pity.

I had the illusion of conversing with a fellow being without a barrier, without a steel door, without a black hood over my head ... I have never, I think, impressed upon you how almost impossible I find it to communicate with anybody.

Oh what a mad business, no good can come of it, only chaos, and not just chaos but evil. How did we gradually get entangled in such a terribly dangerous shambles!

He ... felt as if, wanting to be needed by everyone, he were merely becoming some sort of semi-invisible messenger.

The theatre is a tragic place, full of endings and partings and heartbreak.

Politicians aren't concerned with justice being done, they're concerned with justice seeming to be done as a result of their keen-eyed vigilance.

I ceased some time ago to believe in goodness.

Is that a quotation?
Only from me.

we have futures. That means we can make things true.

Jealousy is perhaps the most involuntary of all strong emotions. It steals consciousness, it lies deeper than thought. It is always there, like a blackness in the eye, it discolours the world.

The false god punishes, the true god slays.

She lived in private with her own horror.

And could it be true without other awful things being true as well?

Art and psychoanalysis give shape and meaning to life and that is why we adore them, but life as it is lived has no shape and meaning, and that is what I am experiencing just now.

Year after year he wondered if he should go back and year after year felt it all recede from him past hope, past endeavour ... He could not find his way back there.

Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.

Are we not somehow compelled by love? I shall not let one day pass without giving you the assurance of mine. Surely there is a future for us together. I am yours yours yours.

Lately Louise had decided to give up wearing make-up altogether, but had not yet acted upon the decision.

But there are times of suffering which remain in our lives like black absolutes and are not blotted out. Fortunate are those for whom these black stars shed some sort of light.

The best you can hope for is a little peace and not too much remorse. Thoughts at peace under an English heaven.

And this great love makes you both ruthless.

I want you to be able to see me, and as my love for you is so much of me (all of me, making me more than myself) then you must see that too.

We must live by the light of our own self-satisfaction, through that secret vital busy inwardness which is even more remarkable than our reason.

How irrevocably spoilt, down to its minutest detail, his world was now. Even the countryside was spoilt, the animals, the birds, the flowers. There was nowhere to run to.

Darkness was staining all the intricate channels of what had once seemed so perfect.

Don't tease me. Everything wounds me now except perfect kindness.

Sentimentally and in the soul it went on for ages, it still goes on, it goes on and on.

Perhaps that was the only time which we should ever, ever have together. Perhaps it was something which would never, never, never come again.

Some inner organ would give way, her heart would literally break, if she did not see him soon.

I don't like you, I love you. You're a portent for me, a sign. I've always lived by signs.

All art deals with the absurd and aims at the simple. Good art speaks truth, indeed is truth, perhaps the only truth.

We shall meet, but as strangers. It is the end of an era. A whole part of my life is torn away.

Everything in his life now seemed to signal: too late.

Anyway, as you say, what the hell. I know, I've been to hell, I've seen it, I've been shown round. I'll kill myself. You'll see, you'll be sorry.

I don't know what love can do for the terrible things of life.

Now she did not even wish to try, for fear of rousing up something terrible.

At this point Bellamy suddenly remembered another dream which at the time had made him smile. He dreamt he was a little tiny frightened animal called 'Spingle-spangle'. Later he did not smile. The little doomed creature was an image of what he most feared, insanity.

But oh -- time has become such a torture, a slow torture. One tries to capture a piece of time that lies ahead and is full of light ... but thinking about that just makes this awful black time even blacker.

He suffers terribly all the time. He lives in fire.

Their hands touched, their knees touched. They were both trembling.

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