Abjuring Magic, Embracing Magic: Shakespeare's Pastoral Romance 'The Tempest' in Iris Murdoch's 'The Sea, the Sea'

Dr Elena Andonova - Kalapsazova
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Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy and her engagement with Platonism, Existentialism, and analytic philosophy have proved to be, arguably, the most powerful paradigm contextualizing and informing the critical approaches to this author’s novels. My presentation, however, will adopt the perspective mapped by intertextuality as a methodological practice (as elaborated by Mikhail Bakhtin and Gerard Genette) to take a look at Murdoch’s novel 'The Sea, the Sea' in order to re-examine the way it has conducted a rewriting of Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest.' The recurrence of motifs from Shakespeare’s plays has been acknowledged by almost every critical work on Murdoch among which Richard Todd’s Iris Murdoch: The Shakespearian Interest (1979) has probably been the most in-depth study of this aspect of her works. So in a field of discourse already mapped by diverse voices this paper will engage dialogically with an earlier such reading of 'The Sea, the Sea' conducted by Lindsay Tucker in her "Released from Bands: Iris Murdoch’s Two Prosperos in 'The Sea, the Sea.' The presentation will take up from Tucker’s argument that the novel ties together Prospero’s abjuring of magic and the art of learning to die, as it is elaborated in Buddhist philosophy, endorsed by James Arrowby. My point will be that while the novel does engage with these issues, it also probes into ways for making room for a different kind of magic - non assertive and non-manipulative, magic that is harmonized to Murdoch’s ethical vision, a facet of which is rendered in Charles Arrowby’s words towards the end of the novel: 'One can live quietly and try to do tiny good things and harm no one.'

This argument will involve examining the particular way in which the play’s generic specificities as a pastoral romance, which is inextricably linked with magic, have been rearticulated to offer an example of what, following Paul Alpers one could can an extension of pastoral.

Keywords: Magic, Ethics, Pastoral Romance, Intertextuality
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Abjuring Magic, Yielding to Magic

Dr Elena Andonova - Kalapsazova

Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages,
Philology Faculty, South-West University "Neofit Rilski," Blagoevgrad


I have been teaching English Renaissance, Restoration and Enlightenment literature and literary theory. I am currently working on a doctoral dissertation on hypertextual transpositions of Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" in novels by John Fowles, Iris Murdoch and John Banville.

Ref: H06P0112