A brilliant but deeply flawed man struggles to earn absolution
Hilary Burde was a rising star in academia until a tragic accident plunged him and his mentor and rival, Gunnar Jopling, into two decades of depression and guilt. Hilary, unable to overcome his pain, abandoned his promising career for an unfulfilling job as a civil servant. But at age 41, Hilary crosses paths again with Gunnar - initiating a series of events that will change their lives forever.
Set against a richly drawn backdrop of post-war London, A Word Child is a gripping story of passion and the redemptive power of love.
©1975 Iris Murdoch (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Murdochs story takes guilt to the highest level of psychological and moral consideration. The reading by Prebble captures the voices beautifully, and this is a novel of voices, told mainly through dialogue.
I listened to all 14 hrs. of this audio book because of its glittering prose and insight into the complexities of humanhood, but mostly I hoped that something redeemable might surface in the central character. But alas, there was something so inherently "off" in Hilary Burde's very being that neither deprived childhood nor tragic accident could excuse the lens of cruel distain through which his relationships with others are filtered. His unbridled narcissism is that of the sociopath. He reels through his life in a toxic cloud of self-pity, poised to smash and destroy with clenched fists or poison tongue. This unattractive protagonist left me with a bad taste in my mouth at the first line but Murdoch is such an intuitive and gifted writer that I persevered in the withering hope of some sort of epiphany rising like a Phoenix in the final pages. Indeed there was a small glimmer of such but it was too little, too late. I no longer cared. Having spent 14 hours with a bully I was just glad it was over.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks and Simon Prebble is one of the most gifted readers I have encountered. His performance kept me engaged long after I lost interest in the central character.
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