83 Iris Murdoch Quotes from the Irish and British Novelist

Iris Murdoch, a British novelist and philosopher, was born in Dublin in 1919 and passed away in Oxford in 1999.

She grew up in London, studied at Oxford and worked for the British Treasury and the United Nations.

By 1948, she became a fellow at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Murdoch’s literary journey began with a study on Sartre in 1953 and her novels, known for their wit, depth and exploration of complex relationships, gained her immense recognition.

Iris Murdoch

Notable works include “The Bell” and “The Sea, the Sea”. Her final novel faced criticism, potentially due to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Her novels blend realistic observations with the surreal, highlighting human vulnerabilities. She also delved into plays, poetry and criticism.

Let’s dive into some of the top quotes by Iris Murdoch.

Top 10 Iris Murdoch Quotes


Only the very greatest art invigorates without consoling. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Violence is born of the desire to escape oneself. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins. ~ Iris Murdoch.


I took him for a kind of buffoon. Now I see he is a devil. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Possibly, more people kill themselves and others out of hurt vanity than out of envy, jealousy, malice or desire for revenge. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea. ~ Iris Murdoch.


We can only learn to love by loving. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Moralistic is not moral. And as for truth – well, it’s like brown – it’s not in the spectrum. Truth is so generic. ~ Iris Murdoch.


There is no beyond, there is only here, the infinitely small, infinitely great and utterly demanding present. ~ Iris Murdoch.


There is nothing like the bootless solitude of those who are caged together. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Popular Iris Murdoch Quotes


One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats, and if some of these can be inexpensive and quickly procured so much the better. ~ Iris Murdoch.

We must live by the light of our own self-satisfaction, through that secret vital busy inwardness which is even more remarkable than our reason. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Nothing is more beautifully and acceptably self-assertive than good singing. ~ Iris Murdoch.

The absolute yearning of one human body for another particular body and its indifference to substitutes is one of life’s major mysteries. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port. ~ Iris Murdoch.

The most essential and fundamental aspect of culture is the study of literature, since this is an education in how to picture and understand human situations. ~ Iris Murdoch.


My heart was beating like an army on the march. ~ Iris Murdoch.

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Perhaps when distant people on other planets pick up some wavelength of ours all they hear is a continuous scream. ~ Iris Murdoch.

All art deals with the absurd and aims at the simple. Good art speaks truth, indeed is truth, perhaps the only truth. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Love is the last and secret name of all the virtues. ~ Iris Murdoch.

We defend ourselves with descriptions and tame the world by generalizing. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Food is a profound subject and one, incidentally, about which no writer lies. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Famous Iris Murdoch Quotes


Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is. ~ Iris Murdoch.

I think being a woman is like being Irish… Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the time. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Mathematics is good for the soul, getting things right enlivens a sense of truth, efforts to understand automatically purify desires. ~ Iris Murdoch.

We need a moral philosophy in which the concept of love, so rarely mentioned now by philosophers, can once again be made central. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Dogs, like humans, can be disturbed forever by an unhappy childhood. ~ Iris Murdoch.

There is a gulf fixed between those who can sleep and those who cannot. It is one of the greatest divisions of the human race. ~ Iris Murdoch.


A love without reservation ought to be a life force compelling the world into order and beauty. But that love can be so strong and yet so entirely powerless is what breaks the heart. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Man’s creative struggle, his search for wisdom and truth, is a love story. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Upon the demon-ridden pilgrimage of human life, what next I wonder. ~ Iris Murdoch.

One shouldn’t dream too much about other people’s destinies, even if they are one’s children. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Best Iris Murdoch Quotes


It’s easier to sell junk when you’re known than works of genius when you’re unknown. ~ Iris Murdoch.

One should go easy on smashing other people’s lies. Better to concentrate on one’s own. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Freedom may be a value in politics, but it is not a value in morals. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Starting a novel is opening a door on a misty landscape; you can still see very little but you can smell the earth and feel the wind blowing. ~ Iris Murdoch.

A long marriage is very unifying, even if it’s not ideal, and those old structures must be respected. ~ Iris Murdoch.


The cry of equality pulls everyone down. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Goodness accepts the contingent. Love accepts the contingent. Nothing is more fatal to love than to want everything to have form. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Quotes by Iris Murdoch

All artists dream of a silence which they must enter, as some creatures return to the sea to spawn. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Actors are cave dwellers in a rich darkness which they love and hate. ~ Iris Murdoch.

The chief requirement of the good life, is to live without any image of oneself. ~ Iris Murdoch.

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. ~ Iris Murdoch.


Jealousy comes from self-love rather than from true love. ~ Iris Murdoch.

A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia. ~ Iris Murdoch.

The theatre is certainly a place for learning about the brevity of human glory: oh all those wonderful glittering absolutely vanished pantomime! Now I shall abjure magic and become a hermit: put myself in a situation where I can honestly say that I have nothing else to do but to learn to be good. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Loving is an orientation, a direction of energy, not just a state of mind. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Quotes from Iris Murdoch

Only lies and evil come from letting people off. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Art is not cozy and it is not mocked. Art tells the only truth that ultimately matters. It is the light by which human things can be mended. And after art there is, let me assure you all, nothing. ~ Iris Murdoch.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~ Iris Murdoch.


I just enjoy translating, it’s like opening one’s mouth and hearing someone else’s voice emerge. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Only love has clear vision. Hatred has cloudy vision. When we hate we know not what we do. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Love can’t always do work. Sometimes it just has to look into the darkness. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Happiness is a matter of one’s most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Most real relationships are involuntary. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Quotes about Iris Murdoch

Language is a machine for making falsehoods. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Remember that the secret of all learning is patience and that curiosity is not the same thing as a thirst for knowledge. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Every artist is an unhappy lover. And unhappy lovers want to tell their story. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Falling out of love is very enlightening. For a short while you see the world with new eyes. ~ Iris Murdoch.


All art is a struggle to be, in a particular sort of way, virtuous. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Those who hope, by retiring from the world, to earn a holiday from human frailty, in themselves and others, are usually disappointed. ~ Iris Murdoch.

We know that the real lesson to be taught is that the human person is precious and unique; but we seem unable to set it forth except in terms of ideology and abstraction. ~ Iris Murdoch.

Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved. ~ Iris Murdoch.

So these were the 83 famous quotes about Iris Murdoch.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Coretta Scott King quotes and André Breton quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar