In one of literary history's 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 Alzheimer's disease, which slowly destroys reasoning powers, memory, even the ability to speak coherently. Her husband, English literary critic John Bayley, unsparingly depicts his wife's 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 Bayley's 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It is seldom that someone at once so brilliant and so visible as novelist Iris Murdoch develops Alzheimer's 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 women's 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 Iris's 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 wife's 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 Alzheimer's 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A fascinating account of the relationship between two literary notables.Published 5 months ago by EdJoanne Hollatz
So touchingly and sensitively written that only someone whom Murdoch loved could have been expected to write such a moving memoir.Published 5 months ago by Richard A. Greenberg
A poignant portrait of a truly unusual life partnership of two very creative people who face a tragic yet loving fate. Beautifully written chronicle of lives well lived.Published 6 months ago by Robert Alan Glick MDPC
I had read it before, but wanted a copy of it. It was well bound, an attractive edition, at a reasonable price.Published 7 months ago by katherinejeans
Well, being that a movie was made out of this book I thought for sure that meant that it would be a decent book. Unfortunately I was wrong. I mean, come on. Judi Dench. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Blueeyedshook
This book is a joke - written by Iris' husband, it is an egotistical tribute to himself, rather than Iris.Published 12 months ago by Mary Ann
Great price but the condition is not very good. The book has liquid stains all on and in it. Has some writing In it also. Read morePublished 18 months ago by brooke
I read this book start to finish with force because it was a Book Club section for the month. The descriptions are laborious and sometimes redundant. With all respect, I think Mr. Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by S. Mays