This is the story of the comic and yet relentless struggle for survival of Austin Gibson Grey, the accidental man. Austin is one of those people who needs to survive through the destruction of others. The others, in Austin's case, include his successful elder brother, Matthew, and the women who, one after the other, are so touchingly convinced that they can 'save' him. In this latter role we meet Austin's estranged wife, Dorina, a crazed angel, and Austin's far from angelic alcoholic landlady, Mitzi. Other women interest themselves too in Austin's fate, with hilarious and appalling results. An Accidental Man is a novel of extraordinary scope and variety in which Iris Murdoch's astonishing fertility of mind and unerring narrative skill are most felicitously combined.
Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919. She read Classics at Somerville College, Oxford, and after working in the Treasury and abroad, was awarded a research studentship in philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge. In 1948 she returned to Oxford as fellow and tutor at St Anne's College and later taught at the Royal College of Art. Until her death in 1999, she lived in Oxford with her husband, the academic and critic, John Bayley. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 and in the 1997 PEN Awards received the Gold Pen for Distinguished Service to Literature. Iris Murdoch made her writing debut in 1954 with Under the Net. Her twenty-six novels include the Booker prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978), the James Tait Black Memorial prize-winning The Black Prince (1973) and the Whitbread prize-winning The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974). Her philosophy includes Sartre: Romantic Rationalist (1953) and Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992); other philosophical writings, including The Sovereignty of Good (1970), are collected in Existentialists and Mystics (1997).