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NEWS: The enigmatic Iris Murdoch's legacy is burning bright in China

By ChiUni 09 Jan 2018


Just one novel by Iris Murdoch was all it took for Chinese scholar Jennifer Yue to decide to journey thousands of miles from home and dedicate her career to the work of the enigmatic novelist. “Murdoch crosses the boundaries of literature, art, and philosophy but, more importantly, she traverses cultures unlike any other author,” says the visiting academic who is undertaking a six-month scholarship at the University of Chichester.

The 24-year-old, born in the province of Jiangsu, is part of a new generation of Chinese academics captivated by the Irish-born writer. Jennifer’s research has taken her across the world from Shanghai to Chichester: the home of the renowned Iris Murdoch Research Centre.

“Much has been written on Murdoch in Europe for half a century but China has been isolated from her work,” adds Jennifer, who hopes to ignite global interest in the writer. “There is a growing interest in Asia because her books are highly detailed.

“The ethics and moralities of her stories resonate across many languages and cultures, and this is particularly true in China. The rich plotlines of her novels reach readers in different ways and are the inspiration of my own research.”

A deeply-original and exploratory writer, Murdoch’s 26 novels, published between 1954 and 1995, revel in the ideals of adoration and desire. “Her works explore love and death, ideas that we rarely and so openly approach in my culture,” says Jennifer, whose Chichester scholarship is funded by the Chinese government to broaden its understanding of worldwide contemporary research.

Among the most celebrated novels are the 1978 Man Booker Prize-winner The Sea, The Sea, which focuses on the twin neuroses of vanity and jealousy, which Jennifer says embodies the principles of Yin and Yang, a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy. Murdoch’s profound work is also the focus of the research centre at the University which intends to bolster the intellectual strength and impact of her award-winning work.

It was the newly-formed Iris Murdoch Research Centre at Chichester which first attracted the academic, visiting from Shanghai Jaio Tong University, to the south of England. “There are so few Chinese academics of Iris Murdoch despite her popularity in the country,” Jennifer adds.“My scholarship at Chichester is integral to my work because it gives me access to the world’s leading academics and the Iris Murdoch collection. I have found that academia in the UK has no barriers, scholars talk openly and freely without the restrictions students face in China.”

For more information on Iris Murdoch and this news story click here

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