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The Treatment of Moral Values in the Work of Four Contemporary Novelists: Graham Greene; Muriel Spark; Iris Murdoch; Doris Lessing.

Stubbs, PJA; (1978) The Treatment of Moral Values in the Work of Four Contemporary Novelists: Graham Greene; Muriel Spark; Iris Murdoch; Doris Lessing. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis sets out to examine the treatment of moral values in the work of Graham Greene, Muriel Spark, Iris Murdoch and Doris Lessing. Chapter One provides a context for subsequent work; and considers some possible stances to the treatment of moral values in fiction; that is, it suggests they can be reflected, reinforced, questioned or rephrased. It reflects, too, on some aspects of contemporary society and thought which relate to the overall topic. Graham Greene's treatment of moral values is examined in Chapter Two. Novels like Brighton Rock reveal that a tension exists between the moral and the spiritual; and it is argued that he often questions the finality of moral judgements. In Chapter Three, Muriel Spark's approach to moral values is aligned with his; for she too envisages man's soul as of paramount importance. Her satirical bent, however, ensures that much of her fiction is devoted to the portrayal of man's lack of moral values. The consideration of Iris Murdoch in Chapter Four argues that she tests out many of her philosophical hypotheses within her fiction. Her sympathetic but speculative examination of the difficulties inherent in the moral life is compared to George Eliot's; though the former's attempt to rehabilitate Christian concepts is seen as radical. Chapter Five traces the evolution of Doris Lessing's fiction from her criticism of African society to her embodiment of a mystical view of life. Moral values are crucial to the Martha Quest novels, where she endeavours to substitute new notions of the moral for conventional views. Later, her Sufi belief largely causes the ethical to disappear. The Conclusion suggests that though these novelists often treat moral values speculatively, this response springs from an intelligent appraisal of the contemporary world. All stress the need for the individual to be self-responsible; and their clear-sighted treatment of moral issues aids such a process.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The Treatment of Moral Values in the Work of Four Contemporary Novelists: Graham Greene; Muriel Spark; Iris Murdoch; Doris Lessing.
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Language and Literature

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