The Nice and the Good
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Oh--haha. "There are 20 major characters, including a dog and a cat who are germane to the action." The scene is London and the Dorset coast and a "large, complicated household"--with members of three families.
This sounds like one you'll have fun with.
The name "Radeechy" for example: root, cause (radice, latin/italian). He sets everything in motion by killing himself. The Grays are the 'nice and good' couple who are so welcoming to others.... is goodness part of character? circumstances? Consider their name. Conversely can you experience enough 'bad and evil' to annihilate, in a way, all distinctions (Willy Kost in the cottage endured Dachau). Kost/cost. One of the characters, Jessica, strikes me as being (possibly) an older and sadder version of the charming and feckless Dora from The Bell. There is a terrifying emptiness to Jessica - she has no morals, ethics, understanding of religious principles - in a way she is innocent, but I feel there is already an implication that this innocence is dangerous in ignorance.
I wish the print was bigger in this edition. I know it is slowing me down considerably. I've been paying a little more for better editions when I have the choice and now I remember why......
Thank you both for your responses.
Here is what I have written so far:
"The point is that nothing matters except loving what is good. Not to look at evil but to look at good....In the light of the good, evil can be seen in its place, not owned, just existing, in its place."
Thus one of the characters, old Uncle Theo, reasons, toward the close of the novel in which almost all the characters come up against their own limitations, the limits of 'niceness', the creeping devastations of evil - from the petty rationalizing of one's own bad behavior to larger and more serious infractions - all circling around self-absorption. What makes this novel work is that the characters, while playing out Murdoch's explorations of human behaviour, are virtually all believable and likeable. I didn't 'like' all the characters, but I felt some compassion for all of them. One interesting twist is that Iris makes it clear that she emphatically does not believe that all people are created the same. Some are endowed with an internal moral compass, a penchant for 'the good' and some simply are not. Yet in their weakness and frailty they are human and worthy of compassion. I actually, for the first time, truly loved a character - John Ducane - and that was a great pleasure and even a relief! As with The Sandcastle, the novel's crisis is focussed around an incident of great danger - requiring courage and fortitude - and this was deftly done, I was on the edge of my seat and felt very emotionally involved. ****1/2
I'd like to come back later and add some choice quotes and other reflections as they bubble up. Such a contrast between the 'happy' and 'sad' IM's!
I've just started, so I'm not reading past your first post, Lucy, but I am intrigued by the names and your take on them. Very helpful! I'll be back!!!
I've always thought nice such an insipid, easy adjective. I'm happy to follow IM where she wants me to go.