The Sea, the Sea

  • by Iris Murdoch, Mary Kinzie - introduction
  • Narrated by Simon Vance, Kimberly Farr
  • 20 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors - some real, some spectral - that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.

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Customer Reviews

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All our failures are ultimately failures in love


"All our failures are ultimately failures in love." Iris Murdoch

Oh boy. This is deep, dudes. Far out and deeply deep, dudettes.

Rather than trying my unworthy hand at a thorough analysis of a psychologically complex 500 page novel, I shall lay track for a few grooves.

Dig it.
Near the beginning, I thought it might be a romance. No way, man. More like a real Mystery of Mental and Emotional Health and Well-being.

What is love? How is the idea or thought of it, especially young love, affected by the passage of time, what with our tendency to romanticize our youth?

The painful paradox of the ego (false pride), with its fang-ed sea serpent 'jealousy,' blinding us to reason, depriving us of patience and filling us with anger, all of which operates to ruin the very love that our innate sexuality tells us to cherish above all else.

The ways we lie to ourselves to enable the fantasy, even to the edge of sanity, that another loves us despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


This is a thought provoker that goes down some murky places in the mind. Some readers may be turned off by what at times seems like a long-windedness of the first person narrator. Although it seemed to me, after finishing it, that 50 pages could have been trimmed, I haven't studied it enough to make conclude that those 50 were unneeded, and not the kick that pushed this novel into "classic" territory.

I could delve into all my thoughts triggered by the profundity of Iris Murdoch. It would be a ramble for it reminds me of how I languished in damaged love's lassitudes all the day I finished it. So, in that respect, I couldn't have read a more timely book.

This is a surefire 4.5 stars on the water.

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- W Perry Hall

Pure pleasure

Any additional comments?

Simon Vance's reading is exquisite. I'd read this long ago, and listening to it was reminded again of how brilliant and often hilarious Murdoch's writing is. Vance captures the protagonist so perfectly I wish he'd narrate all of Murdoch.

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- laurel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-18-2017
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio