Black Prince tells the story of Bradley Pearson, an aging
writer with few publishing credits to his name. He feels a
masterpiece within him, but finds his efforts to focus on
his work thwarted by pressures from the women in his life:
his sister, his ex-wife, and his best friend's wife and daughter.
Murdoch introduces Pearson as a reserved, self-indulged, and
solitary man, committed to producing his life's masterpiece
and averse to involving himself in others' personal affairs.
Reluctantly, he comes to the aid of those who seek him out
each time he tries to depart for a quiet space in the countryside,
further delaying the creation of his masterpiece.
starts out slowly. Pearson's self-absorption and righteousness
do not inspire the reader's sympathy nor do the other characters,
who privately abuse, cheat, or wish death upon their loved
ones while maintaining respectable public appearances. Murdoch
intersperses this introduction to the dual-natured main characters
and their immediate crises with a great deal of philosophy
about the nature of love, art and truth. These issues were
Murdoch's passion as a philosopher, but the frequency with
which she raises such difficult questions detracts from the
through the book, the pace picks up rapidly. Murdoch successfully
involves the reader in the passion -- referred to as the black
Eros -- that could awaken Pearson's creativity, causing lasting
consequences and turning the relations between English intellectuals
into a literary thriller. Murdoch twists and turns the story
in a way that makes the reader care for and even sympathise
with each character as they struggle with aspects of love
and human emotion. The narrative journey encompasses lust,
violence, psychosis and adultery, as well as youth, vitality,
trust and new beginnings. Combining murder, love and the relationships
among a small group of aging Englishmen and women, Murdoch
infuses psychological and philosophical tension into a classic
tale of love and murder.
down on the amount of philosophising would have strengthened
the story line. But despite Murdoch's refusal to allow editing
of her work, The Black Prince made the shortlist for the Booker
Prize. A timeless story that unravels timeless emotions, The
Black Prince grips the reader with its surprising finale and
the talons of Murdoch's writing.
review was first published in Crescentblues.com
(R) thedailystar.net 2004