London: Chatto & Windus, 1962. 1st Edition. Octavo, publisher’s seafoam cloth, spine gilt, original illustrated dust jacket.
"She did not know herself. It was not possible, it was not necessary, it was perhaps not even proper. Real compassion is agnosticism; and we must be compassionate to ourselves too." First edition of prolific Anglo-Irish novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch’s sixth novel. A master of the psychological, Murdoch is best known for her darkly comic fiction exploring virtue, morality, evil, sexuality, and the power of the unconscious, influenced by her education in classics and philosophy. A Shakespearean satire set in the English countryside, An Unofficial Rose depicts severed relationships and extramarital love affairs within a domestic household after the death of the family’s matriarch. The novel, along with A Severed Head (1961), The Unicorn (1963), The Italian Girl (1964), and The Red and the Green (1965), is representative of Murdoch’s early "romantic phase," when she was primarily concerned with philosophical themes of truth, love, and their necessitated responsibilities. Dust jacket designed by English artist and lithographer T. Ritchie (Trekkie Parsons), who became Leonard Woolf’s lover after Virginia’s suicide. A few small stains to cloth and edges of textblock; minor edgewear to unclipped dust jacket. Very good. Item #6211