- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: ARROW (RAND); New Ed edition (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099723107
- ISBN-13: 978-0099723103
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Iris Murdoch as I Knew Her Paperback – Import, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
By no means is this a conventional literary biography. It is more informal, along the lines of what the title indicates -- Iris Murdoch as the author knew her, which was for the last thirty years of her life, from 1969 to 1999. There is, however, a lengthy chapter covering the standard biographical facts of Murdoch's life from before the author (A.N. Wilson) first became acquainted with her and her husband (John Bayley) while a student at Oxford.
All in all, the book is quite successful at bringing Iris Murdoch to life (including her sexual promiscuity and other peccadilloes and her sometimes rude and squalid behavior as she sank into the dementia of Alzheimer's) and in assessing her status and work as a novelist. As to the latter, Wilson is an unabashed admirer, calling some of her novels (or perhaps, to be more precise, some parts of most of her novels) the best writing to come out of England in his lifetime. Her great theme, he states, is "the chaos of the human heart in its quest for sacred and profane love." Her novels "are a coruscating analysis of the human capacity to turn love into power-games; the most uncompromising scrutiny of what takes place in the tyrant's cage which masquerades as a happy marriage."
That last sentence also comprehends Murdoch's own marriage, to John Bayley, a marriage that is perhaps even more starkly and memorably portrayed in this book than is Iris Murdoch the writer.Read more ›
Wilson was acquainted with Iris and John for the last 30 years of her life, from 1969 to 1999. His biography includes a long chapter giving you the facts of Iris's life. The rest of the book gives you Iris the person. It makes lively and informal reading. Wilson also gives you glimpses of some of the important people Iris knew such as Elizabeth Bowen.
The book also corrects a number of things. Iris with tears in her eyes told Wilson she would like to have had children. Bayley hated children but claimed (with the same sweet smile as always) that they wanted them but that Iris was past child-bearing. Since Iris was only 36, this was a lie. "Like a spoilt child, JOB reacts petulantly to the presence of other, real children invading his space or claiming the attention of his Protectress." (p. 15).
John Bayley became more and more of a "sweet poison" person as the years went on and, while playing the faithful dog, got gradually more of the upper hand. He resented Iris's earlier sleeping with other men, even though he claimed to her that he accepted this and accepted her as she was.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Much better than her husband's narcissistic 'eulogy' that made me sick, mad and sad. This one is a much better read if you like Iris.Published on August 11, 2014 by Mary Ann
Normally I really like A.N. Wilson's writing. And I admit I haven't read in whole the work in question, so I can only comment on what I've read. Read morePublished on April 15, 2014 by Meckins
It is unlikely this biography of Iris Murdoch will be surpassed, and will likely stand as the definitive biography. Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by AGM