The Message to the Planet

The Message to the Planet Iris Murdoch s th novel a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller explores the meaning of life in a story of love and betrayal faith and doubt Murdoch works with an intellectual daring most writers on

  • Title: The Message to the Planet
  • Author: Iris Murdoch
  • ISBN: 9780140126648
  • Page: 477
  • Format: Paperback
  • Iris Murdoch s 24th novel, a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, explores the meaning of life in a story of love and betrayal, faith and doubt Murdoch works with an intellectual daring most writers only dream of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    284 Comment

    • Bob says:

      The central character is Marcus Vallar, a brilliant but seeming unstable mathematician who peaked quite young, had a brief second career as an abstract painter of note and, at the time of our story, enters a high-class mental institution while simultaneously serving as a Messianic healer figure for the local New Age travelers who take time out from a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to cluster around him. The chronological setting is identified as mid-80s by a single fleeting reference to AIDS, but a ce [...]

    • Persephone Abbott says:

      I am not going to say that I enjoyed reading this book. I was rather fascinated, however, and I certainly was curious when the kiss of Judas was going to appear. Marcus Vallar, genius, child genius burnt out in adulthood has many people expecting him to formulate the big revelation that would change mankind. Others think he's potty and suffering from any number of mental illnesses. His friend Ludens would like to help Marcus deliver the hoped promise of the unfulfilled genius so he trails Marcus [...]

    • Anne says:

      I think this was my first Iris Murdoch, and I'm surprised about some peoples negativity around the book. I LOVED it, better than any of her other books I've read (which I admit don't include what would be considered her classics). What I loved was that it was so unpredictable - both the characters and the plot. It drifted without structure - I mean that in a good way - and it brought me as reader to totally unexpected places. A bit like a fantasy novel but set in reality, or a examination of a p [...]

    • Gayathri says:

      My very first Murdoch. At 600-odd pages in fine print, this book is seriously voluminous! Though the book was probably written in 1980's, the writing is very austere for the age; almost Victorian. This book, if narrowed down, has a couple of protagonists, with the story switching between the lives of these two and at times, bringing the two together. The story is about a central event and its effect on all the characters that come in contact with this event. The characters are very real; their o [...]

    • Alex says:

      560+ pages of densely packed script to describe the doings of as fey a clique of arty farty academics and artists as you could ever hope to meet. Exquisitely written, with some surprisingly beautiful descriptions of the natural world in passing, it delves into the big philosophical questions while at the same time detailing the finer points and pitfalls of managing a menage a trois should you have any ambitions in that direction. Written in her later life, there is sufficient hint of obsession w [...]

    • Jane says:

      Another theme that insinuates itself into some Murdoch novels is the question of the boundary between genius and madness. Here the genius is, like many of her central characters, struggling for perfection, in this case a union of spiritual and intellectual perfection. His clarity of focus, when turned on another person, can result in joy, healing, or alternatively, devastation - thus the fascination of his character. One way of looking at the mystery in this story is: if we do happen to be one o [...]

    • Nancy says:

      This was a very difficult book to rate. To say "like it" is both inaccurate and inadequate, but it will have to do. I am exhausted; confounded; conflicted; and depressed. But also stimulated.Yesterday, at a book luncheon, author Amy Bloom commented that "really good books do more than distract." So, taking in to account the above description of my condition at the conclusion of this book we must agree that The Message to the Planet did much more than distract me.Murdock is the author of one of m [...]

    • Sadie says:

      I don't know many people who read Iris Murdoch and I totally get it. She's smart. Smarter than me. Smarter than you. And she likes to write about philosophy. The trouble is that she explores these philosphical ideas through domestic dramas which means that ordinary readers have difficulty with the text and stop reading and serious readers aren't going to pick up her books because the plots seem so mundane. Now granted, the plot to this book is anything but mundane but it is dense and difficult t [...]

    • BrokenTune says:

      I tried for almost half the book, but just couldn't get into it. I couldn't figure out when the story was set, didn't warm to any of the characters, and the plot just left me cold. So, I gave up. It's a little disappointing because I loved the other books I read by Iris Murdoch, all of which either had a gripping plot or, as The Bell, were littered with quite humourous scenes.

    • Christina says:

      If you saw someone perform something that seemed to be a miracle, would you believe it to be a miracle or would you try to find some rational way of explaining it? When days, weeks, months had passed, would you still be convinced you had seen a miracle or would you instead think that you must have been mistaken?Patrick is dying. He has been sick for a very long time and now, the doctors have given up on him. He is lying in Jack and Franca’s house and Franca is taking care of him while trying t [...]

    • Simon Mcleish says:

      Originally published on my blog here in January 2004.Towards the end of her career, Murdoch's novels got longer, following the general trend in fiction over the last couple of decades. Both The Message to the Planet and The Book and the Brotherhood are about twice as long as Under the Net or The Bell. The problem with the extra length is that Murdoch did not really seem to have more to say, and with The Message to the Planet I felt that a fair amount of the book seemed tedious, not an accusation [...]

    • Stephen Brody says:

      “Christ’s death has probably collected more kitsch than any other happening in history.”“Somehow he acted out the whole pilgrimage of modern man – to know almost everything, and then to want to change that one thing more, and to perish trying to find it.”* * * *The Message turns out, apparently, to be this: “Nothing could be more important to this planet than preserving the name of God, we must not abandon it, it is entrusted to us at this age, to carry it onward through the darkne [...]

    • Mary March says:

      What impressed me about this book was Iris's management of so many characters, their idiosyncrasies, and relationships with each other. She was able to maintain their characters as they moved through the book in their "each so" individual ways. In spite of the predictability of each character, Iris did manage a spoiler (no need for a spoiler alert as I don't read and tell) though the frustrating lives of everyone in the book had me hoping (for the characters' sakes)that they would each have a sp [...]

    • Kalle says:

      In a nutshell, I liked this book. However, there are some problems.First of all, it is a rather multi-layered one, with nice dialogue and deep philosophical thoughts, and while each section works, nothing really shines. The combination is good, but somehow I felt it lacked that last push, that last something that makes a great read.It is also a really long novel. I'm not sure if I just read it too slowly (which I did), but it simply took too long for me to finish. It was not boring; it just prog [...]

    • Nathanial says:

      Murdoch does it again! Richly seasoned spread of characters in a group portrait covering three distinct, varied and multifaceted settings (landed estate, city flat, at village sanitorium). Plays with us just long enough to let us figure out we don't need to know who the protagonist is when her central subject is interior action: how do moral acts play out in real life?

    • Heidi Burkhart says:

      I wanted to read a book by Murdoch and now I have. I struggled through about 85% of the book. Finally in the last 15% I felt it all came together, but felt that it was rather an exhausting read.

    • Sue Bird says:

      I think her alzheimers was setting in at this point.

    • John Cairns says:

      I thought at first the ill character was dying of Aids, that he is immediately denied by another character, but by the reference placing the setting of the novel’s present in the eighties. A mention of word processor helps confirm that. Another character says “Sex ins flesh and spirit, it’s the only spiritual thing that is available everywhere,” a view the author would seem to share, as would I. The quotation on page 22 about the continuance of metaphysical wisdom I can’t find. I don [...]

    • Betty says:

      A phenomenal look into the many lives (friends, disciples, worshipers) affected by a brilliant and misunderstood mathmetician-turned-spiritual mentor who abandons everything in a quest for the ultimate truth and foundation of human consciousness. Murdoch possesses an amazing gift of character development through amorous suffering and philosophical dialogue. She believes that all philosophy is shipwrecked on morality. "Large in scope and powerful in thrust" according to one review, there is much [...]

    • Melanie Griffin says:

      Wow. What a tome! I won't say I enjoyed it, but I will likely never forget it, which is saying a lot. The character development is superb and Murdoch's treatment of the questions of spirituality, good versus evil, reality versus fantasy, love versus obsession, madness versus genius is deep and wide-ranging. This must have been a bear to write! I thought about giving up half-way through because it isn't exactly easy reading. Often her paragraphs are a page long or more and the dialogue can be pre [...]

    • ItaloPerazzoli says:

      A group of Friends are discussing about the mental health of themselves, but in particular about Marcus Vallar, a charismatic former mathematician and painter who has abandoned both these pursuits.Another central personage is a penniless poet called Patrick Fenman, whom is apparently dying of a mysterious wasting disease and believes that , Marcus Villar has cursed him.The first question is why he has been cursed by Marcus?, aren't they friend? page after pages we will discover that Marcus has s [...]

    • Jody says:

      This Murdoch was better than the last few that I read, but not a favorite. While Murdoch's typical messy relationships are a prominent feature of this book, I couldn't believe them as well as in other stories. It wasn't like an unwilling suspension of disbelief, though. I believed what was happening, but was baffled by the behavior of several of the characters. It was outrageous and amazing at the same time. Two major stories in this one: the first was of Franca and her husband Jack who has had [...]

    • Sachahaworth says:

      This is the first Iris Murdoch that I've ever read. I picked it up mostly on the basis that I believe she is a well regarded writer, because the blurb on the back is really vague as to what the book is actually about. Essentially it follows a group of several friends. One of their number, Patrick, has fallen deathly ill and no one knows why. He repeatedly complains that a curse has been put on him by a person previously known to the group: the mysterious Marcus Valler, a wandering intellectual w [...]

    • Ali says:

      SynopsisI must admit this one is nowhere near being one of my favorites although I did enjoy it overall. There were however things that annoyed me or that I found tedious.This is a big novel, with many recognisable Murdoch themes. Obsession, religion, love and death among them. Alfred Ludens has been obsessed with Marcus Valler for years, Marcus missing for years is discovered. and Ludens sets out to being him back to London and to lift a curse from an Irishman who, believing the curse to be rea [...]

    • Dan Pope says:

      I would read anything by Iris Murdoch. She's more of the 19th century than the 20th, it seems to me, a novelist of vivid characters and philosophical insights, although she uses some post-modern gimmickty now and then in her work (THE BLACK PRINCE). She can be a bit long-winded too. She likes to start off in media res, in the heat of conversation between five or six friends, and the reader is expected to catch up. And on and on she writes, beyond the point where the reader hopes she'll go. Not a [...]

    • Janice says:

      Murdoch stalls halfway through this saga of a charismatic "philosopher" who's either moving into a realm of paranormal power or who is just barking mad. Murdoch's protagonist--the philosopher's diligent disciple, determined to wrest a brilliant moral treatise from the great man's tortured thoughts--is like a dog with a bone, and the narrative flags for long stretches as Murdoch illustrates his rather unvaried tenacity. Things finally pick up, and there are rewards, as usual, in the constellation [...]

    • Wendy says:

      my first Iris Murdoch novel, don't know how I missed reading her for so long. Must confess I chose to read it after watching the movie about her. Putting the novel in context of what the movie portayed , makes it a lot easier to place her plot in the context of her life. Not an easy or entertaining read, but I still felt compelled to keep going to find out the ending. Central themes are: misdirected love ( almost Shakespearean ) , cultism vs established religion, the fallout from the Holocaust, [...]

    • Isla McKetta says:

      It's not really fair to mark this book as "read" because I couldn't finish it. Night after night of reading six pages at a time. I wanted so much to like this book because I like the idea and I like Iris Murdoch, but I couldn't keep the characters straight and no amount of effort could make me care about them. I gave up after sixty pages.

    • Ci says:

      *** quick glance 10/2016 ***Started with a tangle of conversations among a group of lively young men about the main character. Not my preferred way to approaching a story. Somewhat too pop and quick. Will muster time and energy to approach this novel later.

    • Alex says:

      What a storyteller she is? Enjoyed the book a lot although I skipped through some of the denser, metaphysical dialogue.

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