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A collection of thoughts and quotations by Iris Murdoch on love, feminism, philosophy, humor, intimacy, solitude, joy, faith, love, art and God.

81 Motivational Quotes By Iris Murdoch That Will Keep You High-Spirited

Quick Facts

Famous As: Poet, Philosopher, Novelist, Writer, Biographer

Born On: July 15, 1919

Died On: February 8, 1999

Born In: Dublin

Died At Age: 79

Dame Jean Iris Murdoch was an Anglo-Irish philosopher and novelist who rose to prominence in the 20th century and is regarded as one of the most popular Irish writers to have ever emerged from the country. Murdoch studied at elite schools and then went on to study the classics at Somerville College, University of Oxford, before acquiring her post graduate degree from University of Cambridge. Murdoch’s novels became popular due to the way in which she dealt with morality and the interplay between good and evil. Her first novel ‘Under the Net’ was published in 1954 and remains her most famous work. It was included among the 100 best English novels of the 20th century by Modern Library. Her other noted works include ‘ A Severed Head’, ‘Henry and Cato’, ‘The Bell’, ‘The Book and the Brotherhood’, ‘The Green Knight’, ‘The Philosopher’s Pupil’ and ‘The Message to the Planet’ among others. Murdoch was also a well-known philosopher and had written plenty of papers on the subject during her lifetime. Murdoch produced a considerable amount of work throughout her career and has gone down in history as one of Ireland’s finest authors. Her writings covered several subjects and viewpoints. We have sorted Iris Murdoch’s most popular quotes from her novels, stories and writings. Here is a collection of thoughts, quotation and sayings by Iris Murdoch on morality, good and evil, happiness, education, grief, the power of the unconscious and sexual relationships.

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

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

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.

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

One of the secrets of a happy life is continous small treats.

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

We can only learn to love by loving.

Iris Murdoch

Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins.

Iris Murdoch

Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.

Iris Murdoch

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality" says Iris Murdoch. But given the state of the world, is it wise?

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

One should go easy on smashing other people's lies. Better to concentrate on one's own.

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

Only the very greatest art invigorates without consoling.

Iris Murdoch

Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too.

Iris Murdoch

For most of us, for almost all of us, truth can be attained, if at all, only in silence. It is in silence that the human spirit touches the divine.

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

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

Emotions really exist at the bottom of the personality or at the top. in the middle they are acted. this is why all the world is a stage.

Iris Murdoch

Anything that consoles is fake.

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

People have obsessions and fears and passions which they don't admit to. I think every character is interesting and has extremes. It's the novelist privilege to see how odd everyone is.

Iris Murdoch

What a test that is: more than devotion, admiration, passion. If you long and long for someone’s company you love them.

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

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

Iris Murdoch

As we live our precarious lives on the brink of the void, constantly coming closer to a state of nonbeing, we are all too often aware of our fragitlity.

Iris Murdoch

What I needed with all my starved and silent soul was just that particular way of shouting back at the world.

Iris Murdoch

Youth is a marvelous garment

Iris Murdoch

Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved

Iris Murdoch

I feel half faded away like some figure in the background of an old picture.

Iris Murdoch

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

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

Violence is born of the desire to escape oneself.

Iris Murdoch

In philosophy if you aren't moving at a snail's pace you aren't moving at all.

Iris Murdoch

Coffee, unless it is very good and made by somebody else, is pretty intolerable at any time.

Iris Murdoch

(I think I fell in love with you when you were shouting at Romeo and Juliet, 'Don't touch each other!')

Iris Murdoch

Love doesn't think like that. All right, it's blind as a bat--' 'Bats have radar. Yours doesn't seem to be working.

Iris Murdoch

I felt a deep grief that crouched and stayed still as if it was afraid to move.

Iris Murdoch

We are all prisoner, but the name of our cure is not freedom

Iris Murdoch

That's how vile i am! I live Ireland, I breathe Ireland, and Christ how I loathe it, I wish I were a bloody Scot, that's how bloody awful it is being Irish!

Iris Murdoch

Every man needs two women, a quiet home-maker, and a thrilling nymph.

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

What an extraordinary satisfaction there is in cleaning things! (Does the satisfaction depend on ownership? I suspect so.)

Iris Murdoch

Thinking about the misery of the world is a favourite contemporary occupation. and if you can't think the television set will think for you.

Iris Murdoch

The theatre is certainly a place for learning about the brevity of human glory: oh all those wonderful glittering absolutely vanished pantomimes.

Iris Murdoch

I just enjoy translating, it's like opening one's mouth and hearing someone else's voice emerge.

Iris Murdoch

White magic is black magic. a less than perfect meddling in the spiritual world can breed monsters for other people, and demons used for good can hang around and make mischief afterwards.

Iris Murdoch

Hegel says that Truth is a great word and the thing is greater still. With Dave we never seemed to get past the word.

Iris Murdoch

There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for-granted relationship...

Iris Murdoch

I took a deep breath, however, and followed my rule of never speaking frankly to women in moments of emotion. No good ever comes of this.

Iris Murdoch

It was a piece of thoroughly picturesque and proper violence. I like a violent man, really, a man who's a bit of a brute in a decent straightforward way.

Iris Murdoch

Art and psychoanalisis give shape and meaning to life and that's why we adore them. However, life as it is lived has no shape nor meaning, and that's what I am experiencing right now.

Iris Murdoch

This sort of quiet gazing, which was like a feeding of the heart...

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

Guilt keeps people imprisoned in themselves.

Iris Murdoch

But it was just luck really if the girls survived. You're like a man firing a machine gun into a supermarket who happens not to become a murderer.

Iris Murdoch

An experience is richest not talked of.

Iris Murdoch

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

Iris Murdoch

How huge it is, how empty, this great space for which I have been longing all my life. Still no letters.

Iris Murdoch

Disapproving of things is all right. But you mustn't disapprove of people. It cuts you off.

Iris Murdoch

Waiting in fear is surely one of the most awful of human tribulations.

Iris Murdoch

We brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Iris Murdoch

When I'm up to something I find it very hard to realize that I probably look no different from the way I look on other occasions.

Iris Murdoch

You know what. You've killed me and sent me to hell, and you must descend to the underworld to find me and make me live again. If you don't come for me, I'll become a demon and drag you down into the dark.

Iris Murdoch

But to be understood is not a human right. Even to understand oneself is not a human right.

Iris Murdoch

Happy is the civilization which can breed men accustomed from infancy to regard certain at least of the ego's natural activities as unthinkable.

Iris Murdoch

You imagine that to live in a state of extremity is necessarily to discover the truth about yourself. What you discover then is violence and emptiness. And of this you make a virtue.

Iris Murdoch

The exercise of power is a dangerous delight.

Iris Murdoch

How mysterious night and day are, this endless procession off dark and light....I think such sad thoughts - of people in trouble and afraid, all lonely people all prisoners.

Iris Murdoch

He dreamt...he was a huge white egg floating in the sea of turquoise blue, and he was everything that there was.

Iris Murdoch

I'm the absolute queen bee of unrequited love.

Iris Murdoch

There are no spare unrecorded encapsulated moments in which we can behave 'anyhow' and then expect to resume life where we left off.

Iris Murdoch

Love is no respecter of ages, everyone knows that.

Iris Murdoch

To overthrow a tyrant, whether in public or in private, one must learn to hate.

Iris Murdoch

The theatre is an attack on mankind carried on by magic: to victimize an audience every night, to make them laugh and cry and suffer and miss their trains.

Iris Murdoch

Never seen the sea! How could anyone not have seen the sea? Surely the sea must somehow belong to the happiness of every child.

Iris Murdoch

Good art shows us how difficult it is to be objective by showing us how differently the world looks to an objective vision.

Iris Murdoch

But death is not easy, and life can win by simulating it.

Iris Murdoch