Jackson’s Dilemma,1 Iris Murdoch’s last novel, was published in 1995, four years before her death. It was the final contribution to a novel-writing career which had begun over forty years previously. Twenty-six novels in all were published, using various narrative modes and embracing various degrees of complexity. In general Murdoch avoided what she saw as ‘the obvious danger for a writer’, that of writing autobiographical novels. Many of the settings, however, reflect backgrounds familiar to her, and the civil servants, university dons, Irish characters and many others belonged to the milieu of her own life, though the narratives, the plots, the bizarre relationships were mainly creations of her own lively imagination. We should not expect to find accounts of her own life in her novels and she herself is on record as asserting that she believed that she, as author, should not be in her books. To that extent, then, she followed the dictates of modernism.
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