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As with all of Iris Murdoch s books, Henry and Cato is an unpredictable story with really thought provoking aspects It features two friends who meet up again as mature adults, each facing a life crisis Henry is a wealthy landowner who wants to dispose of his property and live as an ordinary individual in America Cato is a priest with no possessions who wants to leave the church and find the means to assist a delinquent teenager to make something of himself As such, it raises many pertinent As with all of Iris Murdoch s books, Henry and Cato is an unpredictable story with really thought provoking aspects It features two friends who meet up again as mature adults, each facing a life crisis Henry is a wealthy landowner who wants to dispose of his property and live as an ordinary individual in America Cato is a priest with no possessions who wants to leave the church and find the means to assist a delinquent teenager to make something of himself As such, it raises many pertinent issues around money, religion and traditional family bonds.Murdoch typically plays around with the element of contingency, with the result that the reader has no idea where the plot is heading and the characters themselves are taken off guard by events This serves to reveal characteristics in the various men and women in the story which would not have been apparent had events followed a predictable path For readers who enjoy in depth character portrayal and the exploration of philosophical and psychological conundrums, this makes for a very satisfying read.As a writer, I also enjoyed Murdoch s description of setting The characters interact with their environment in a very engaged way Emotions are reflected in the weather, the appearance of the trees and buildings, the sounds of insects and birds, and the movement of objects It is difficult to describe how effective this is, except to say that it charms one into experiencing the scene with vividness and fellow feeling.So successful is the dialogue, over, that whole exchanges can go on without the need for any indicators as to who is speaking The content and style of the lines is entirely characteristic of each member of the cast, which further drives home the point that people are unique and distinctive not just because of how they appear but because of how they think and communicate Certainly a fantastic model for any novelist to imitate.I gave the book five stars because I found so many passages worthy of quoting or recalling for later reference The conversations in the closing chapters about loss of faith, the dark night of the soul and the reason why people focus on suffering were particularly fascinating and well worth contemplating, coming as they do from a writer who was herself a philosopher by training and profession or less finished rushed the last chapters at the library, just before returning it, finally I m happy that I did because a few characters came upinteresting and realistics just in the last pages, even Colette Anyway, I ll always remember this as the book I read at the hospital waiting for my baby to be born my boy is now 7 months old and trying to type this comment himself it was really time to return it. Henry and Cato are young adult Brits who were once school chums Both are moving through a crisis of personal meaning Henry, having spent a lifetime resenting the injustice of being the younger son unable to inherit the estate, suddenly finds himself the heir and promptly moves to rid himself of it all, evicting his mother in the process Cato, having deeply disappointed his enlightened father by joining a Catholic religious order and being ordained a priest, realizes that he would much rather Henry and Cato are young adult Brits who were once school chums Both are moving through a crisis of personal meaning Henry, having spent a lifetime resenting the injustice of being the younger son unable to inherit the estate, suddenly finds himself the heir and promptly moves to rid himself of it all, evicting his mother in the process Cato, having deeply disappointed his enlightened father by joining a Catholic religious order and being ordained a priest, realizes that he would much rather be a messiah than serve the Messiah When Cato becomes the victim of a violent crime that touches those around him, these crisis are pushed to a resolution Murdoch has a knack for writing snappy dialogue Her characters are chiseled to exacting sharpness This is my second Murdoch novel and I find her characters rather tiresome with their self absorbed posture Characters seem to regard others as means to their own goals or expendable I had the sense that Murdoch was trying to dothan tell a good story, that she was trying to explore some theme or make some point, but I was somehow missing it The dialogue between Cato and his friend in the final chapter about the unknowability of God and the opposition between certainty and faith seemed to be hinting at a key to unlock the meaning of this story, but I could not figure out how to use it This novel is an example of wonderful writing in the hands of a less than wonderful reader The Hungerford Railway Bridge, built in Victorian times, was replaced in 2002 and re christened the Golden Jubilee Bridge The old wrought iron Hungerford Bridge is where this story opens It s a subtle reminder to the contemporary reader of how Murdoch draws on a style and setting rooted in the 19th century despite the post war existential crises of her characters The present is forever grounded in the past Murdoch is unique in making that connection with primarily literary devices.In a singl The Hungerford Railway Bridge, built in Victorian times, was replaced in 2002 and re christened the Golden Jubilee Bridge The old wrought iron Hungerford Bridge is where this story opens It s a subtle reminder to the contemporary reader of how Murdoch draws on a style and setting rooted in the 19th century despite the post war existential crises of her characters The present is forever grounded in the past Murdoch is unique in making that connection with primarily literary devices.In a single compact paragraph Iris Murdoch performs a sensory immersion on the old wrought iron bridgeThe mist, which he had welcomed, baffled him Damp and grey and gauzy and slightly in motion it arose from the Thames and surrounded him, seeming transparent and yet concealing the lights of the embankment on either side and deadening the footstep of figures who, persistently appearing, would suddenly materialize close to him and go by with a suspicious gait Or were these all shrouded apparitions of the same man, some plain clothes police officer, perhaps, whose task it was to patrol the bridgeLocation 15 Note that the possibility of encountering an officer of the law is nocomforting than the possibility of a mugger Cato Forbes has come here for the explicit purpose of disposing of a gun Time itself moves in eerie slow motion in this meticulously detailed scene Cato Forbes, age 31, is a Catholic priest who converted in a moment of ecstatic epiphany Living in a condemned hovel, formerly a mission in one of the worst parts of East London, he has become obsessed with saving a vicious psychopathic youth excited by violent fantasies at least that is what Cato tells himself The two form a deep bond The nature of that bond is uncertain, a possible mix of sincerity and manipulation on Joe s part At this point, Cato s faith begins to falter Is Cato now responsible for Joe These intense emotions feel dangerous As confessor is Cato fulfilling his spiritual commitment or is he a captive audience, both enabling and colluding with Joe s fantasies Joe Beautiful Joe Murdoch s characters wrestle with doubt and delusion and with her third person point of view she provides the reader with a front row seat.Meanwhile, Cato s childhood friend Henry Marshalson, age 32 and employed at a third rate liberal arts college in rural Missouri, is rejoicing He has just confirmed that his brother Sandy has died in a road accident Sandy the simple Sandy the handsome Sandy the golden boy, the apple of their mother s eye Like Cato, Henry feels he has emerged into sunlight He prepares to return to England to settle the considerable family estate he has inheritedHenry put the receiver down and fell back on his bed, salivating with relief Inheriting the property was nothing What mattered was that bloody Sandy was no Location 62 His unambivalent joy is unsettling to the reader.Murdoch s narrative alternates between Cato and Henry, but places the events simultaneously in time The contrast in tone is as stark as the contrast in character Henry is a resolute atheist He is seized by the conviction that this is his one opportunity to enact a grandiose gesture of idealistic beneficence In his mind, he is the cultural nihilist of the past, a past represented by Gerda, his mother Rounding out the cast of characters are Lucius, Gerda s emotionally dependent, past his prime, permanent boarder Collette, Cato s younger sister who may be in love or may be merely infatuated with Henry Stephanie who had some mysterious connection to Sandy and Brendan Craddock, Cato s confessor, friend, and spiritual mentor whose arguments resemble the intonations of a Greek chorus.In addition to doubt, disappointment figures heavily in this novel Gerda is disappointed with both Lucius and Henry Lucius and Henry are disappointed with themselves Cato is disappointed by Beautiful Joe John Forbes is disappointed with his two children, Cato and Collette Doubt and disappointment Couple them with fear and rationalization Although uttered from Lucius point of view, an interjection with its concise asperity is clearly Murdoch speakingBut human beings are endlessly ingenious about promoting their own misery Even in catastrophe mysterious barriers can isolate them, barriers of fear and egoism and suspicious and sheer stupid moral incompetenceLocation 1180 Her pontifications are infrequent, as if finally attempting to reset the course of a rudderless ship.Murdoch has a dry wit A love scene between Henry and Stephanie seems cut from a Victorian melodrama There is grabbing, a heaving bosom, and wild eyed staresHenry lowered his gaze, seeing how the linen curved over her rather large bosom, seeing her breathing He looked down at her glistening black high heeled shoes He was reminded of the little elegant hooves of a young donkeyLocation 2750 She employs Lucius for comedy as well Dispatched by Gerda to smooth over relations with John Forbes, he totally bungles his mission Lucius is such a pathetic character that the humor we derive never really feels cruel.This is the second book by Iris Murdoch that I have read I must admit that I have little appreciation for the philosophical and theological dilemmas she poses The arguments are a bit beyond me What I love is her masterful command of the English language NOTE I read this book on the Kindle The highlighting and notes features were invaluable However, the editing is non existent There are frequent shifts between the Cato sections and the Henry sections Usually the shifts go unmarked no double spacing, no line of asterisks, nothing That was annoying.Artwork Diana and Acteon by Titian of Max Beckmann at the St Louis Art Museum I enjoy Iris Murdoch s novels so much Oh, to get lost in these worlds alongside these idiosyncratic characters Murdoch s immersive works are always a guaranteed win for me I thoroughly enjoyed Henry and Cato.Henry is an art history professor who has grown to hate art His childhood friend Cato is a priest who no longer believes in God And Cato s younger sister Colette is a student who s just dropped out of college When Henry s older brother Sandy dies, Henry flies back to England from the U I enjoy Iris Murdoch s novels so much Oh, to get lost in these worlds alongside these idiosyncratic characters Murdoch s immersive works are always a guaranteed win for me I thoroughly enjoyed Henry and Cato.Henry is an art history professor who has grown to hate art His childhood friend Cato is a priest who no longer believes in God And Cato s younger sister Colette is a student who s just dropped out of college When Henry s older brother Sandy dies, Henry flies back to England from the U.S., set to inherit Laxlinden Hall His mother Gerda and her hanger on Lucius nervously await what he ll do with the estate Meanwhile, Cato is obsessed with a seventeen year old androgynous petty criminal known as Beautiful Joe Cato tells himself he wants to help Joe find salvation while trying to deny that he s in love with him And Colette returns home to Pennwood, the neighboring home to Laxlinden Her disapproving father John is there, despairing of his children for respectively dropping out of college and joining the Church The lives of these families and friends get all entangled, and the schemes of Beautiful Joe pull the knot encircling them tighter Henry and Cato examines questions of what constitutes success and goodness Several characters lead disappointed lives theirs are lives gone wrong, full of thwarted ambitions They ponder settling vs refusing to settle They re often scared to try and to branch out so they grow resigned to their lot in life, until the riotous activity of this novel shakes them up Henry longs for a fated destiny to sweep him along in an unstoppable current Henry s a big fan of saying things are fated to justify his shitty behavior At the start he thinks Was something going to happen in his life at last Would he be called upon to make great choices, world altering decisions Would he be able toAs in all her 3rd person books that I ve read so far , there s a religious fanatic, obsessed by an all consuming Catholicism Through this character s fervent faith, we see religion as a mystical, transcendent experience providing the euphoria of a high Henry and Cato showcases religion and blind devotion used to fill an existential hole in oneself, to blot everything out, and to cede control of one s life to a higher power an institution Murdoch fascinatingly explores all this from complete acceptance to questioning to doubt to atheism to nihilism and beyond.I always find many sentiments and feelings I can relate to in Murdoch characters Henry and Cato offers deep character studies even if you don t like certain characters, you become invested in them by gazing into their psyches and being trapped with them in their circumstances Gerda is intimidating and imperious Collette is idealistic, fanciful, and flighty John is argumentative, ornery, and rigid in his thinking Murdoch is hilarious writing bad haikus as Lucius, who thinks they re genius Both Henry and Cato were stunted by the formative experiences of their unhappy childhoods by abuse and feeling unloved Henry and Cato each want to escape over the class divide by slumming it with their dependents They both try to take advantage of a poor person beholden to them They can both be wasteful, reckless, and refuse to listen to accounts of poverty Instead, they ve fetishized their fallen companions and the idea of having no money By using a myriad of sometimes contradictory descriptors before Henry s name throughout, Murdoch illustrates his malleability He s not fully formed as a person he s indecisive with low self esteem Then he evolves into a brute With his inheritance, he s drunk on power and develops a reckless nihilism The theme of feudalism runs throughout, of being dependent on others or keeping them dependent on you Murdoch explores the male ego and the different kinds of misogyny most of the male characters are guilty of.Murdoch excels at the atmospheric country house see also The Sea, The Sea, The Unicorn, A Severed Head that feels like a living, breathing entity I loved the descriptions of Laxlinden Hall, its beautiful furnishings, and the surrounding countryside The evocative descriptions of art make it possible to see it in your mind s eye A mood of suffocation and Henry s non belonging hangs over the Hall as surely as the mist that hovers around the estate The light dark, the shifts in time of day, the landscape come into focus beautifully, like a film shot by a consummate cinematographer Speaking of, why aren t thereIris Murdoch adaptations They re so rich with drama, psychology, and cinematic locations, they d make for excellent productions The beginning sections of this novel are so cleverly constructed, like Russian nesting dolls There s a beautiful symmetry to the beginning and end Henry and Cato has fantastic stretches of uninterrupted dialogue between two people This provides a nice balance with the in depth explorations of inner life and the meticulous descriptions of place The twists and surprises are great I was shockedthan once The action and the climax had me sickly anxious to know the outcome Henry and Cato is an excellent entry in Iris Murdoch s oeuvre of unusual and engrossing novels It s a very funny book The emotions are rendered flawlessly There are the trademark hard to define relationships The characters relations with each other are often uncategorizable They re not cut and dry lovers or friends There are no easy, typical mother son or mentor student dynamics It s all complicated by shades of the unspoken, by conflicting impulses There s the running theme of expecting others to fulfill certain roles for you certain characters, like those who wish for Cato to remain a priest, do this with a certain arrogance Iris Murdoch carries off this complex book with its multiple narratives and big cast of characters like a perfectly executed magic trick Hats off to her 3.5 starsHenry and Cato, the two title characters of Iris Murdoch s eighteenth novel are young men in their early thirties who were friends as children yet have grown apart as the years have gone by Ostensibly it appears there is nothing they have in common apart from mutual acquaintances, Henry is a low level college professor in America, Cato a Catholic priest, yet at the time of the novel they are both at pivotal moments in their life, looking for change and something outside themselves to p 3.5 starsHenry and Cato, the two title characters of Iris Murdoch s eighteenth novel are young men in their early thirties who were friends as children yet have grown apart as the years have gone by Ostensibly it appears there is nothing they have in common apart from mutual acquaintances, Henry is a low level college professor in America, Cato a Catholic priest, yet at the time of the novel they are both at pivotal moments in their life, looking for change and something outside themselves to propel this.At the beginning of the novel, Henry is looking to make his mark on the world and speaks of becoming something, permanent, significant and monumental , his inheritance of the family property allows him to follow this dream regardless of how it affects those around him and he really is a selfish, arrogant, sod He adores art and almost seems to have the same spiritual experience from looking at certain paintings like Diana and Actaeon, as Cato does from his religion Ironically Cato is struggling with his own faith and is reminiscent of Michael Mead in The Bell particularly because of his feelings about a particular man in his life For Cato it is the reprobate, Beautiful Joe, who is a catalyst for much that takes place in the novel including much of Cato s soul searching which, as in The Bell, became too lengthy for me and slowed down my reading for Cato s chapters.Other characters that feature include Lucius, Gerda s long term guest who was probably the most sympathetic character for me, an aging poet who has been kept for so long that he no longer has the skills to survive in the real world We also have Cato s father John Forbes a strident man who believes that education is the only worthwhile path to follow, Colette, his daughter who is one of those willowy young women that populate Murdoch s novels, leading with her heart and pining for love and finally Stephanie who, despite her opaqueness and apparent fragility, is surprisingly intriguing and for me it is the women who are the most enjoyable element of this novel.Often where women are concerned, however, there is a great deal of misogyny Henry and John Forbes are both misogynistic, believing that they are sympathetic to women while at the same time convinced that they know what s best for the women in their lives and that they are weak and stupid An example from John He had always fought for women s liberation, he had fought, to his best knowledge, for Colette s liberation But there was a kind of invincible stupidity in the other sex which simply asked for bullying After all it had taken them practically the whole of recorded history to invent a simple idea like the brasserie Ironically by the end of the novel, it is the women who have got what they wanted and while going through events far tougher than Henry and John have experienced, have managed to come out the other side, happy and content in the case of Gerda and Colette and stronger and better equipped in the case of Stephanie There are moments of suspense as with the scheme to obtain some of Henry s money and there are moments of mild humor, usually involving Lucius, there are also some beautiful descriptions of the Hall and its grounds, yet I never felt captivated by this book I don t think it helped that this is one of those Iris Murdoch novels where the discussion of religion plays a large part, something that I struggle with and while her novels are often filled with dislikable characters, Henry is almost too much So, not the most successful reading experience but still much to admire and enjoy as always when reading a novel by Murdoch |DOWNLOAD EPUB ♔ Henry and Cato ♪ This is the story of two prodigal sons Henry returns from a self imposed exile in America to an unforeseen inheritance of wealth and land in England and to his mother His friend Cato is struggling with two passions, one for a God who may or may not exist, the other for a petty criminal who may or may not be capable of salvation Cato s father and sister Colette wait anxiously to welcome Cato back to sanity Never have I read a book full of such unlikeable characters I thought maybe I could find something I liked about the main characters by finishing the story, but that didn t happen All I wanted to do was shake both Henry and Cato and scream can you please stop being so whiny Iris Murdoch writes strange novels There s an element of the grotesque in them that is not quite the same as say a Gothic novel or especially an American novel, but her characters are often quite capable of true horrors and awfulness without the kind of severity and cruelty of a Heathcliff but also not with the kind of detached irony of a parodic or satirical one On the other hand, characters like Charles Arrowby might just be the most cruelly ironic evil character I can imagine.In this novel, Iris Murdoch writes strange novels There s an element of the grotesque in them that is not quite the same as say a Gothic novel or especially an American novel, but her characters are often quite capable of true horrors and awfulness without the kind of severity and cruelty of a Heathcliff but also not with the kind of detached irony of a parodic or satirical one On the other hand, characters like Charles Arrowby might just be the most cruelly ironic evil character I can imagine.In this novel, though, it s something in the middle of all that We have Henry, recently returned to London to collect his birthright after the death of his brother Sandy and we have Cato, a struggling priest whose best efforts to let his cloth hide his suppressed homosexuality are failing Henry s and Cato s have a past together, and as the title of the novel suggests, a future We begin with a salacious scene of Cato throwing a hidden gun off a bridge into the river, which sets a kind of tone for the novel, butso one of reversals than certainties.As the novel progresses Henry is generally not a good person, but also not evil, and Cato iscomplex and interesting than his initial few moments suggest They become entangled as Beautiful Joe, a protege of Cato s has his eyes on Henry s money, and hatches a plan to win it Henry, for his part, befriend, and then falls in love with Stephanie, his dead brother s apparent fiance, while fending off Collette, Cato s teen sister who falls for Henry.All of this swirls and swirls to handful of climactic collisions.The novel, then, is a kind of modernish and ironic sort of Brighton Rock the novel by Graham Greene , without so much of the Catholic parts, and told not from the narrative perspective of Pinkie, the embodiment of lapsed evil, but from those around him It s an interesting book, and quite readable some of her later novels are repetitive and tedious at times , but ultimately it never quite has the punch of say The Black Prince or absolute magic of The Sea The Sea About once a year I need an Iris Murdoch fix Her books are dense, complex, often difficult to read, but always compelling and thought provoking This one is no exception.Immersed in HENRY and CATO, I couldn t help but wonder what it would have been like to know Iris Murdoch Certainly, I wouldn t have had the intellectual gravity to appeal to her as a friend, but I would have loved to sit with her at a dinner party, or observe her at a departmental meeting I can imagine her contempt for mos About once a year I need an Iris Murdoch fix Her books are dense, complex, often difficult to read, but always compelling and thought provoking This one is no exception.Immersed in HENRY and CATO, I couldn t help but wonder what it would have been like to know Iris Murdoch Certainly, I wouldn t have had the intellectual gravity to appeal to her as a friend, but I would have loved to sit with her at a dinner party, or observe her at a departmental meeting I can imagine her contempt for most of the people she met.Her writing appeals to me because she is bold enough to present characters withflaws than virtues and, often with such base motivations that I pause in shock when reading It is rare to encounter an author who delves so seriously into man s soul It is not an easy ride with her, but it is always thought provoking.I am a fan of series fiction and, while Murdoch is certainly not an author who cranked out formulaic books for a hungry audience, she satisfies her most ardent readers by returning to the eternal theme of good vs evil and the quest for understanding of life, of the universe in most of her books So, when you pick up a one of her books, you have an idea of where you re headed.HENRY and CATO had a muchuplifting ending than most of her books dare I say it was almost a happy ending But, it certainly doesn t leave the reader euphoric Universal questions of faith are still unanswered Characters act on base impulses rather than good ones And, this reader was somewhat unsettled by it all Yet, it was one of the most interesting books I ve read this year and that is why I will continue to read Iris Murdoch