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Elegy For Iris Amazon.com Review In one of literary historys ghastlier ironies Iris Murdoch the author of such highly intellectual and philosophical novels as A Severed Head and Under the Net was diagnosed in 1994 with Alzheimers disease which slowly destroys reasoning powers memory even the ability to speak coherently. Her husband English literary critic John Bayley unsparingly depicts his wifes affliction in prose as elegant and accessible as hers always was. Readers may wince at the spectacle of Murdoch glued to the TV watching the Teletubbies program unable to perform tasks as simple as dressing herself and prey to devastating anxiety as the world becomes less and less comprehensible to her. We understand Bayleys occasional fits of rage when his caretaking chores overwhelm him. Yet in the end his memoir is touching even inspiring. As he recalls their first meetings and marriage in the 1950s it becomes clear that theirs was always an unconventional union in which solitude was as important to each of them as togetherness and Bayley was content to let Murdoch keep her inner life to herself. He loves Iris the woman not the intellect and he conveys an essential sweetness about his wife that endures even as her mental faculties deteriorate. This totally unsentimental account of their life and her illness is nonetheless a heartbreaker. --Wendy Smith Read more From Publishers Weekly It is seldom that someone at once so brilliant and so visible as novelist Iris Murdoch develops Alzheimers disease in full public view seldom also that a sufferer from this dreadful malady has so skilled and loving an interpreter by her side. Bayley a noted literary critic and recently novelist in his own right has been married to Murdoch for 40 years and part of the charm of this enormously affecting memoir lies in the ways in which he shows the affections of old age as in no way slower than the passions of youth. Murdoch was already a dashing and rather mysterious figure when she and Bayley met in the Oxford of the 1950s she was a philosophy don at a womens college who had just written a much-admired first novel he was a bright rather naive graduate student. Something mutually childlike clicked between them however and a naked swim in the River Isis which later became a fond habit lasting even into Iriss illness cemented their loving friendship. Writing with great tenderness and grace Bayley evokes their long warm mutually trusting marriage and introduces in the gentlest way the moments four years ago when he realized that his wifes sense of reality and of herself were slipping away. She is now anxious repetitious and often nonsensical in her speech but still suffused with the same quizzical sweetness and absolute trust he loved in her from the start. Few people afflicted with an Alzheimers partner can be as self-effacing and endlessly patient as Bayley but in a way almost as mysterious as the creation of a Murdoch novel he evokes depths of understanding and warmth that seem scarcely ruffled by the breezes of the conscious mind. This beautiful book could hardly help being deeply consoling to anyone thus afflicted it is also a compelling study of the overthrow of a remarkable spirit. First serial to the New Yorker. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information Inc. Read more See all Editorial Reviews
AvailabilityIn Stock $12.90
Sailing Into Darkness
In 1996 one year after novelist Iris Murdoch told an interviewer that she was struggling with severe writer’s block sh
Alzheimers Takes A Hand in The Game
An elegant book which seems to drift along sometimes idly through the lives of Iris Murdoch and John Bayley. In fact Bay
John Bayleys Elegy for Iris
A very good read.There is still as should be much curiosity about the Platonist philosopher and writer of many novels Ir
Haunting but uplifting
John Bayley and Iris Murdoch had a rare relationship the kind most of us dream of having. Two writers working side by si

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