"I shall in telling it adopt the modern technique of narration, allowing the narrating consciousness to pass like a light along its series of present moments, aware of the past, unaware of what is to come."

Bradley Pearson makes this statement at the beginning of his foreword, describing the formal style of his. The phrase contains Murdoch's commentary on the style of modern novels, which she finds inferior to the more complex narratives characteristic of the 19th century. Murdoch considers Tolstoy, Dickens, George Eliot, and Dostoevsky as literary ideals. She particularly admires their ability to create complex characters and realistic settings. By creating a fictional foreword and using it to comment on the rest of the novel, Murdoch attempts to raise her own work to a similar level of complexity.