Elegy for Iris

( 4 )

Overview

With remarkable tenderness, John Bayley recreates his passionate love affair with Iris Murdoch—world-renowned writer and philosopher, and his wife of forty-two years—and poignantly describes the dimming of her brilliance due to Alzheimer's disease. Elegy for Iris is a story about the ephemeral beauty of youth and the sobering reality of what it means to grow old, but its ultimate power is that Bayley discovers great hope and joy in his celebration of Iris's life and their love. In its grasp of life's frailty and ...

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Elegy for Iris

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Overview

With remarkable tenderness, John Bayley recreates his passionate love affair with Iris Murdoch—world-renowned writer and philosopher, and his wife of forty-two years—and poignantly describes the dimming of her brilliance due to Alzheimer's disease. Elegy for Iris is a story about the ephemeral beauty of youth and the sobering reality of what it means to grow old, but its ultimate power is that Bayley discovers great hope and joy in his celebration of Iris's life and their love. In its grasp of life's frailty and its portrayal of one of the great literary romances of this century, Elegy for Iris is a mesmerizing work of art that will be read for generations.

The noted literary critic & novelist recounts his life with, and love for, the renowned author Iris Murdoch, who in the last years of her life suffered from Alzheimer's.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This splendid book enlarges our imagination of the range and possibilities of love." —Mary Gordon, The New York Times Book Review

"Magnificently, hauntingly humane." —Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

"Bayley's restrained and elegant love song to his wife of 42 years . . . is beautiful and heartbreaking. Full of spirit, generous and resilient." —Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe

"A beautifully rendered portrait . . . Bayley reaffirms how suffering can ennoble the human heart. [Elegy for Iris] is an affecting remembrance of one of the great literary marriages of our time. It celebrates the victory of life—and love." —Wendell Brock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A heart-melting love story and an erudite inquiry into the nature of personality, memory, and invention. Wise and full of grace." —Shelby Hearon, The Chicago Tribune

"Elegy for Iris is a work of art. As beautiful as it is wise, Elegy for Iris has already become a classic memoir and a remedy for modern love. Read it and, if you dare, give it to someone you love." -Tom D'Evelyn, Providence Sunday Journal

"Here, between the covers of an incredible book, is love . . . that doesn't hedge, love for which there are no ready outs, love that feels as inevitable as breathing, and the result is stunning." —Abraham Verghese,The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Heartfelt and admirably unsentimental . . . a testament to a love that has endured and transcended the most terrifying ravages of illness and old age." —Francine Prose, Elle

"In Elegy for Iris I find my mother and father, my wife's parents, our friends, and us. I find shared lives, and hurts and forgivenesses, and joys that are greatest because nobody else knows them." —Dan Rather

Boston Globe
"ELEGY FOR IRIS is beautiful and heartbreaking...a love poem writ in melancholy, an ode to the past and the stratosphere of commitment that such a past ensures."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312253820
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 101,916
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

John Bayley is an eminent literary critic who taught at Oxford for more than 30 years, and was chairman of the Booker Prize Committee. Iris Murdoch died in February of 1999.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    FINALLY!

    First off you will need ALOT of patience to read this book.Be prepared to use your dictionary over and over and over again.Like you would want your doctor to explain things in laymen terms it would have been nice if this author would do as such.It was like he was overly using adjetives and adverbs or whatever you call them to lenghten the story.As it was,the story was only like 188 pgs.With all the"LOOK UPS",it was like another 100pgs.had been added.The story was not what l hoped it would be.My Mother has Alzhiemers also and I was hoping maybe for to be enlightend or some comparable stories.Actually nothing about alz.until close to the end.For those who can follow"have to be on your toes"books,then this is for you.I prefer more easy reads.Alot of bizarre things also about gender.Like the person's review about the diffulcute way to review this book-I get you now.

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  • Posted November 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Touching and brilliant

    A touching and heartfelt tribute to Iris Murdoch that everyone should read...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2005

    Untouchable Illusion

    This is a lovely book about the wonder of life and a horrible disease yet, for the life of me, I cannot write a definitive description. It is one of those books that you finish reading and realize that you have read about love, youth, adventure, old age, and disease. I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2002

    Gently Slipping Away From Reality

    I read this memoir just before seeing the film, 'Iris.' It prepared me for what I would see and helped me to understand both Iris and her husband and the situation they found themselves in. While reading this book and watching the film, I couldn't help but think that Iris Murdoch had done everything right: she was educated, well read and a prolific writer and yet none of that helped her to avoid the deteriating effect of Alzheimer's. Iris also had the benefit of being her own person (at a time when few women could accomplish this) while enjoying a close and satisfying relationship with her husband. Perhaps all the above held off Iris' deteriation for a time. We'll never know.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2002

    Capturing love-story in our day and age

    The memoir John Bayley wrote of his late wife Iris Murdoch is amongst the most beautiful books I have read the past year. At times, his deeply rooted love for her is nearly tangible and the words he uses to try and capture the past and the present are everyday words which illustrate perfectly the point he wants to make. Their life together seems to have been about feeling good in one another's company and trying to be who you are and respect each other's essence. Fancy words would have been somewhat inappropriate. Very often, John Bayley is blatantly honest about his thoughts and intentions, thus forcing the reader to see his human face and refrain from any judgement. The personae and phrases from English literature with which the book is larded reflect his past career and his present attachments. It is a treat to lovers of English literature to read his reflections on great writers from the past and to tune into his daydreams about how certain characters would perceive the occurences in his daily life. Iris Murdoch: A Memoir is not a sad book or a romantic tearjerker. Rather, it exudes hope and love. Love for Iris, but also love of life, of English literature and of mankind.

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