Existentialists and Mystics

Existentialists and Mystics

Writings on Philosophy and Literature

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140264920
  • 576 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


Best known as the author of twenty-six novels, Iris Murdoch has also made significant contributions to the fields of ethics and aesthetics. Collected here for the first time in one volume are her most influential literary and philosophical essays. Tracing Murdoch’s journey to a modern Platonism, this volume includes incisive evaluations of the thought and writings of T. S. Eliot, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvior, and Elias Canetti, as well as key texts on the continuing importance of the sublime, on the concept of love, and the role great literature can play in curing the ills of philosophy.Existentialists and Mystics not only illuminates the mysticism and intellectual underpinnings of Murdoch’s novels, but confirms her major contributions to twentieth-century thought.

Table of Contents

Existentialists and Mystics Foreword
Editor’s Preface
Part One: Prologue
Literature and Philosophy: A Conversation with Bryan Magee
Part Two: Nostalgia for the Particular, 1951-57
Thinking and Language
Nostalgia for the Particular
Metaphysics and Ethics
Vision and Choice in Morality
Part Three: Encountering Existentialism, 1950-59
The Novelist as Metaphysician
The Existentialist Hero
Sartre’s The Emotions: Outline of a Theory
De Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity
The Image of Mind
The Existentialist Political Myth
Hegel in Modern Dress
Existentialist Bite
Part Four: The Need for Theory, 1956-66
Knowing the Void
T. S. Eliot as a Moralist
A House of Theory
Mass, Might and Myth
The Darkness of Practical Reason
Part Five: Towards a Practical Mysticism, 1959-78
The Sublime and the Good
Existentialists and Mystics
Salvation by Words
Art is the Imitation of Nature
Part Six: Can Literature Help Cure The Ills of Philosophy? 1959-61
The Sublime and the Beautiful Revisited
Against Dryness
Part Seven: Re-reading Plato, 1964-86
The Idea of Perfection
On “God” and “Good”
The Sovereignty of Good Over Other Concepts
The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists
Art and Eros: A Dialogue about Art
Above the Gods: A Dialogue about Religion
Acknowledgments and Sources
PRH Book Clubs Survey