The novels of the late Iris Murdoch have been compared to Shakespeare; her name has been put forward for the Nobel Prize in literature; her works have been translated into 29 languages; and no less a critic than Harold Bloom has said of her 'no other contemporary British novelist seems to me to be of Murdoch's eminence.' Collecting the major critics who have described for the last third of a century the phenomena of Iris Murdoch's fiction, this study analyzes the stories those critics tell about her artistic processes. Murdoch passed away in February 1999 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, and now it seems time to examine her critical reception. There are three major questions at the heart of this reception and at the heart of the present study: to what extent is Murdoch a philosophical novelist, a realistic novelist, a postmodern novelist? The book also deals with the question of Murdoch's reputation in the literary world: an intriguing question in view of the praise of Bloom and other critics and writers. This is the first full-length work to deal with the literary criticism on Murdoch. Barbara Stevens Heusel isprofessor of English at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri.