Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99 per year.
Subscribe for Full Access

From Living on Paper, a collection of Iris Murdoch’s letters published next month by Princeton University Press and Chatto & Windus. Murdoch (1919–99) was the author of numerous novels, including The Sea, The Sea, for which she won the 1978 Man Booker Prize.

Excuse this letter which blunders on through various metaphors and says very little.

Forgive me if I talk and talk and seem to say nothing.

Sorry, all this is not amusing and not even informative.

I’m sorry I wrote to you tiresomely.

I’m sorry to behave in this irritating manner.

Forgive this rubbish.

I am truly very sorry to have been, even for a moment, a further problem and embarrassment for you.

Please pardon me for talking so loftily about myself for all these pages.

Forgive this soliloquizing letter so full of me.

Forgive what in me is not adequate to your needs.

If I wrote you a horrid letter yesterday, and I think I did, please forgive me.

Forgive me — it’s not often I get such a grand opportunity for melodrama.

Forgive me. You are such a very old and dear friend that in fact I am quite confident of being forgiven.

Sorry, darling, to talk thus too much, but I must just say this and then shut up.

I’m sorry to burden you with this selfish letter, but I had to.

I’m sorry to write so, but there is nothing else to write about.

Darling, forgive yesterday’s self-centered letter. I’m still feeling self-centered today, I’m afraid.

I am very very sorry. If I have been the tiniest bit tiresome in two or three recent letters do you not see that the reason for this is entirely flattering to you.

Please forgive my very late letter, I have been so overcome by urgent correspondence and travel and honorary degrees.

As far as I can see I have done nothing bad except give you a manuscript which you subsequently sold — and I think you must just try hard to forgive me for that.

My dearest creature, please forgive any hurt from my letter. I do love you, and that is the main point. And if I am alarmed at what seemed your vicious aspect you must appreciate that I have had cause for the alarm.

Forgive me for not having written for so long. (Though indeed I think it is, strictly, you who owe me a letter.)

I am sorry too that you thought I was rude. (Though I don’t think I was.)

My dear, I fear I was tiresome, dogmatic, and not fully there during lunch! Forgive. However, I do on further reflection think I was right.

I am deeply sorry you felt “abandoned.” Things seem different from different points of view.

I am sorry about what appears to you in effect as my bitchlike behavior. I don’t know what to say.

You must just try to forgive my involuntary lack of “response” insofar as it annoys you at times. We are hopelessly muddled and imperfect animals — I mean the lot of us — even Shakespeare.

| View All Issues |

January 2016

“An unexpectedly excellent magazine that stands out amid a homogenized media landscape.” —the New York Times
Subscribe now