22 Oct 2010

"The Flight from the Enchanter" - a flight of fancy

I have become really quite enchanted with Iris Murdoch and yesterday I finished her slim novel "The Flight from the Enchanter" from 1956. It is a story that revolves around Mischa Fox, the enchanter, a secretive figure who has strange relations to all the other character in the story.

It all starts out with Annette Cockeyne, a young wild-at-heart girl, deciding to leave her finishing school,indulging in a last swing from the chandelier before embarking on a session in the school of life. She stays with her mothers friend Rosa Keepe, a gentlewoman working in a factory who has a complicated relationship to two Polish brothers and a motherly role to her brother Hunter. Other people in the story are the useless John Rainborough, the sneaky Calvin Blick, the seamstress Nina and the eccentric possibly very rich Camilla Wingfield.

The central characters - at least in my interpretation - are Rosa and Anette. They are both women who shrug of the expectations of conventional society. Rosa by working in a factory and having a secretive and difficult relationship to two Polish refugees who have gained a certain power over her. Annette by leaving her finishing school and trying to learning about life on her own - getting into quite an amount of scrapes in the process. Annette made me feel protective of her, she is so unable to cope on her own and her shallow thoughts lead to pretty bad decisions. She is like a child playing grown-up, whereas Rosa has left all of her childhood behind immersing herself in grim reality. And somehow losing herself in the process. It is somehow a disturbing read but also really enchanting. Mischa - the man of impossible power - is enchanting. He seems charismatic and actually nice - however, his right-hand-man Calvin Blick is really creepy, a nasty piece of work.

It is a magical story. The language, the prose, the style of Iris Murdoch is enchanting. I really loved reading the story and found myself really liking Rosa Keepe and her early-feminist ways. A little gem of a book.

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