Iris and Hawthorn

I happen to be reading Iris Murdoch’s The Philosopher’s Pupil and came across the passage cited below. A priest (who confesses to being an atheist) is arguing with a philosopher (who has an uncompromising belief in the truth of rationality). They pass a hawthorn…

They were just passing a hawthorn bush, it could scarcely be called a tree, which was putting out, amid its healthy shining thorns, sharp little vivid green buds.

‘The beauty of the world,’ said John Robert. ‘Unfortunately I am insensitive to it. Though it might have point as contrast to art. Art is certainly the devil’s work, the magic that joins good and evil together, the magic place where they joyfully run together. Plato was right about art.’

‘You enjoy no art form?’


Murdoch inverts Proust’s hawthorn scene: In the absence of art the hawthorn is all thorns, a ragged bush.

To leave on a positive note, here is a detail of a scan of a glad:

Scan of a gladiolus

Scan of a gladiolus


2 Responses to “Iris and Hawthorn”

  1. Judy Kistler-Robinson Says:

    Lovely glad, I have not read that book by Murdoch. Do you recommend it?

    Sent from Judy’s iPad


  2. Jim Everett Says:

    The novel starts with the mother of all husband-wife arguments, which made me put it down for a while. But I picked it up again and got very engaged. It has the familiar Murdoch template of a wise, mysterious male figure and those in various orbits around him. I’ll finish it.

    Murdoch has references to Proust in other novels, which sometime I will try to pull together.,.

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