Exercises in style


@IrisMurdoch reminded us yesterday of the thirty year correspondence between Murdoch and Raymond Queneau.

Iris Murdoch’s passion for Raymond Queneau, and the way in which the experimental French writer inspired the Booker-winning British novelist, are revealed in newly-released letters which tell the story of a relationship that spanned almost 30 years.

“Anything I shall ever write will owe so much, so much, to you,” wrote Murdoch to Queneau, a married French novelist, poet and publisher with whom she corresponded between 1946 and 1975. “As I think more about literature […] I realise more and more how crucial for me is everything you write.”

The 164 letters, acquired by Kingston University’s Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies for £50,000, show the author’s deep desire for Queneau, telling him that she feels joy because he exists in 1946, and later, in a 14-page love letter written in 1952, that “I would do anything for you, be anything you wished me, come to you at any time or place [but] you don’t need me in the way in which I need you”.

Granta ran a few of them a couple of years back, including one with talk of an abandoned novel on British parapsychologist Whately Carington:

I have abandoned my own writings for the present. The novel on Carington’s telepathy theory has reached a sort of airy witty flashing perfection in my head which I should undoubtedly spoil by putting pen to paper, & there I think I shall leave it. I have also abandoned, for the moment, Pierrot. Silence (mine) on this subject does not mean indifference; the reverse.

We’d love to read the correspondence in full.