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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Vintage Classics Murdoch: Funny, subversive, fearless and fiercely intelligent, Iris Murdoch was one of the great writers of the 20th century. To celebrate her centenary, Vintage Classics presents special editions of her greatest and most timeless novels. 

I saw a monster rising from the waves.

Charles Arrowby has determined to spend the rest of his days in hermit-like contemplation. He buys a mysteriously damp house on the coast, far from the heady world of the theatre where he made his name, and there he swims in the sea, eats revolting meals and writes his memoirs. But then he meets his childhood sweetheart Hartley, and memories of her lovely, younger self crowd in - along with more recent lovers and friends - to disrupt his self-imposed exile. So instead of 'learning to be good', Charles proceeds to demonstrate how very bad he can be.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 1978.

©1978 Iris Murdoch (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Sea, the Sea

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Sheer brilliance

A tour de force. Prepare yourself to be squeezed through the emotional wrangle.. A Wikipedia of relationships, dysfunctions, frailties, vulnerabilities, needs and desires. Mr Grant's stunning, virtuosic performance of a character utterly suited to his narrative style brings this story off the page and into your home, car and dog walks. After decades of audiobook listening this is now my new favourite. A masterpiece of literature and a masterpiece of storytelling performance. If you become irritated when friends talk about their marriages, this is not the book for you. Iris Murdoch's laser insight and razor prose dissects human desire at the level of forensic autopsy. I was engulfed, riveted, nailed and rode the emotional runaway train of this story, handcuffed to my seat by Mr Grant's luscious narration/performance. I sat with my headphones still on listening to silence when it finished thinking of the dual life I had just led over the past week...my real life and my audiobook life at Shruff's End. Wow.

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Beautiful

I didn't want this to end. Such a wonderful narration of a novel rich is timeless quotes. Listening to Richard E Grant's narration, I found myself thinking that this would have been the story Withnail would have told had he got his act together.

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A favourite book

I have read this book several times over the years, I list it as one of my all time favourite books. It was a treat to hear Richard Grant read it so beautifully. I especially loved his brilliant accents and his interpretation of Gilbert.

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Superb

This is the second time I’ve read this the first Tim 20 years ago as a real book. This time I loved it just as much. Richard E Grant is a fantastic narrator. So funny at times I laughed out loud. It’s a wonderful book at times frustrating but other times really poinent and quite make one think about life. It goes off onto tangents and can be really annoying but I loved it.

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  • Tanya Lunn
  • 17-08-2020

Superb!

I purchased this audiobook because I realised I had had a hard copy on my shelf for years, and had never read it. I had not read any of Murdoch’s works but knew that this novel had won the Booker Prize in 1978, the year I left school. What a wonderful audiobook this is! Although the protagonist, Charles Arrowby, is a vain and egotistical misogynist, his character is superbly drawn. In some ways, although this story is set in the 1970s, the narrative feels more evocative of the 1950s. This may be because the protagonist, and most of the characters, are in their 60s (and the author herself was aged 59 when it was published). Their views, tastes, foibles and behaviours seem to come from a slightly earlier era, which I enjoyed. I found the story itself gripping, and Richard E. Grant’s narration/performance superb.

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  • M. J. Walsh
  • 22-07-2020

Demons at play?

Most literary novels do not qualify as page-turners but there are exceptions. The Sea, The Sea is one such. In the form of a first person journal, it tells of the travails of a London theatre luminary, now jaded and tired of the world, who has retired to a ramshackle cottage by the sea. Having sought a life of tranquility and reflection, Charles discovers that fate has something very different in store. Superbly performed by Richard E Grant, this is a book that is both hard to put down and soon plunged into again. Ultimately it asks us to reflect on the source of our obsessions and it does it without ever loosening its grip on our attention. A worthy Booker Prize winner in the 1980s.

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  • AH
  • 28-04-2020

Thank you Richard E. Grant

This is not a narration by Mr Grant, it is a wonderful and generous performance.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Penelope New
  • 27-05-2020

Worth the wait !

Didn't think one of my favourite Murdoch novels could be topped by reading, but this audio book surpasses all expectation....the philosopher's pupil next PLEASE

5 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 17-05-2020

Sherry and bitters anyone?

I've waited a while for an audio edition of The Sea, the sea, to become available. I think it might have been worth the wait to get one with Richard E. Grant. The cental figure, described regularly as: 'self satisfyed', Charles Arrowby is quite a difficult character for a narrator to get the tone right I imagine so it's good Grant, who always seems to me to be an under utilised talent, has got his character perfectly. He does superbly with all the various accents of the other characters in the book too. If a well told story of a (rightly or wrongly) successful, hedonistic stage director who is, for some reason, infatuated with a married woman in a rural seaside location is your thing then this is the very best.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Deborah
  • 12-05-2020

Eccentric and reflective

Brilliantly read by actor Richard E Grant. a good book to immerse yourself in if you like to hear the mumblings of theatrical persons, out-of-work actors and people who have lived their lives. Slightly potty towards the end and dwindling with pathos and loss, but still interesting and reflective.

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  • Georgina
  • 05-05-2020

Perfect casting brings this classic to shimmering life

I listened to this in the space of two days. Richard E Grant is perfection. The entertaining cast of characters give relief to the chief protagonist’s deranged obsession and Murdoch’s skill stops it descending into farce. She has the ability, like Dickens, to interweave humour and pathos effortlessly. It will stay with me for a long time.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-05-2020

An elusive, ambiguous masterpiece

What a superb reader Richard E Grant is. His tone is perfectly suited to this odd, brilliant, vexatious book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-05-2020

remarkable!

this was an extraordinarily enriching experience! highly recommended! it was my 3d time reading it.

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  • lisa sheldon
  • 02-05-2020

Fabulous.

Richard E Grant’s narration of this is perfect. Beautifully paced and immersive. A delight to listen to.

4 people found this helpful

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  • KMV
  • 17-06-2020

Utterly brilliant narration

Richard E. Grant brought The Sea, The Sea to life in so many ways. I think this is one of the best narrations I have heard. Thank you very much.

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  • Gerard
  • 30-05-2020

A masterpiece

This is a gem of an audiobook. Perfectly read by Richard Grant. Murdoch amazes and delights with effervescent flights of creative story making. A masterpiece to cherish for all time.

3 people found this helpful

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