Iris Murdoch and the aesthetics of masochism

Bran Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In her essay "On 'God' and 'Good,'" Iris Murdoch writes that "[i]t is always a significant question to ask of any philosopher: what is he [sic] afraid of?" (Murdoch 1999a: 359). She is considering the difficulty "in philosophy to tell whether one is saying something reasonably public and objective, or whether one is merely erecting a barrier, special to one's own temperament, against one's own personal fears" (Murdoch 1999a: 359). Her question suggests what we might regard as her own fear as a writer—and of fiction, not just philosophy: the sense that she might be fooling herself, presenting a piece of writing as objective or impersonal when it is, in fact, driven by her desire. Her main strategy for alleviating this fear is the theory of literary production she developed throughout her career.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-165
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Modern Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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