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« In the case of fiction the subject matter is usually, also, individual people. The work of fiction is not only all that self-contained and, again, usually moral, set of judgements which we think of as making the unity of the critic and the author; it is also concerned with judgements which we make in ordinary life, external judgements, judgements upon real people which are not totally unlike judgements which we make upon people in literature. This openness, this ordinariness may be deplored by some purists but to escape from it requires a good aesthetic excuse as well as a good deal of ingenuity. I see no reason to be worried here. Other people are, after all, the most interesting features of our world and in some way the most poignantly and mysteriously alien. Literature tells us things and teaches us things. In portraying characters the author displays most clearly his discernment, his truthfulness, his justice, or his lack of these qualities, and one of our enjoyments lies in considering and judging his judgements. The highest pleasures of literature and, one might say, of art generally, are in this sense moral pleasures. »

Iris Murdoch, Existentialists and Mystics