A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

By Iris Murdoch

Martin believes he can own either a gorgeous spouse and a pleasant lover. but if his spouse, Antonia, all at once leaves him for her psychoanalyst, Martin is plunged into a radical emotional re-education. He makes an attempt to act superbly and sensibly. Then he meets a girl whose demonic splendour firstly repels him and later arouses a eating and large ardour. How will he live on it?

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248). But Kipling also reveals, in the subtlest and most elusive part of the novel, that the pedophile Lurgan (the male complement to the Woman of Shamlegh) also tries to seduce Kim. When Kim first enters Lurgan舗s enticing curiosity shop, he notices the strikingly sensuous 舠soft-eyed Hindu child,舡 self-satisfied and in a privileged place, 舠sitting cross-legged under the table of pearls with a little smile on his scarlet lips舡 (p. 147). Lurgan, inciting a sexual rivalry between the two boys, tells Kim that the Hindu is fiercely jealous and has threatened to kill Kim with poison or a knife.

His lack of fixed identity allows him to be shaped for many different roles舒for the Indian caste system and the British army each has a rigid hierarchy舒and his mentors prey on his weaknesses to bring out his strengths. His English education blends with his Irish father舗s influence and Indian culture to produce, as Colonel Creighton foresees, an ethnological hybrid who舗s perfect for the Secret Service. Everything that Kim has done and learned and is leads to this foreordained end. In The Jungle Books even the much wilder Mowgli finally joins the Forest Service.

It was intrigue, of course,舒he knew that much, as he had known all evil since he could speak,舒but what he loved was the game for its own sake舒the stealthy prowl through the dark gullies and lanes, the crawl up a water-pipe, the sights and sounds of the women舗s world on the flat roofs, and the headlong flight from housetop to housetop under cover of the hot dark. Then there were holy men, ash-smeared fakirs12 by their brick shrines under the trees at the riverside, with whom he was quite familiar舒greeting them as they returned from begging-tours,蝁 and, when no one was by, eating from the same dish.

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