After more than three years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch died in January 1999. Early that month she was taken to a home for the terminally ill, and she remained radiant and calm for the last weeks of her life. The last year or so of Iris Murdoch's life provides the framework for IRIS AND THE FRIENDS, but within this structure John Bayley returns repeatedly to memories of his own earlier life, and of more than forty years of marriage to Iris. Alzheimer's is a lonely predicament for the carer, and Bayley describes how he copes with the ordeal of watching his wife become terminally ill by forming a growing dependency on memory as a stand-by, consolation and friend. In the final chapters, Bayley describes his wife's death which was an entirely serene one. He writes of how he is learning to cope with the loss of Iris, and how he is creating a new life for himself. Partly an autobiography, partly the biography of a marriage, IRIS AND THE FRIENDS provides a sensitive and, at times, a gently humourous lesson in the uses of adversity and will enthrall those fans of IRIS who wanted to know more about Bayley himself.
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John Bayley is the author of ALICE, THE QUEER CAPTAIN, GEORGE'S LAIR and THE RED HAT. He was Warton Professor of English at the University of Oxford and is a fellow of St Catherine's College.Review:
'John Bayley's 'year of memories' shows just how important friends can be in times of crisis' TIME OUT 'Bayley puts [life with Iris] on paper so directly you can't stop your tears' SCOTSMAN 'A companion volume to IRIS, which will be enganced as well as extended by it. It is a remarkable achievement, to turn such recent pain so rapidly and naturally into art.' TLS 'The abiding impression this book makes is of an enduring and understanding love- a remarkable true marriage.' DAILY TELEGRAPH 'The devastating honesty of this book will be helpful to others in a similar position. I have no doubt about that, but funnily enough, the reason I shall be dippint into it and re-reading it is for the masterly and subtle way in which Bayley describes the workings of the inner life... [Bayley is] an extroadinarily distinctive and orignal man.' A.N Wilson, DAILY MAIL 'A remarkable and lightly idiosyncratic book, almost as impossible to categorise as it is to put down.' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'It is a gentle read, sometimes moving, often funny- perfect for a Sunday afternoon.' THE TIMES 'The lack of sentimentality or self-pity gives his book its power.' FINANCIAL TIMES 'Novelist and thinker Iris Murdoch died on 8 February 1999 after living for three years with Alzheimer's disease. Her husband, novelist and academic John Bayley, had previously written movingly of the impact of her illness in Iris: A Memoir. Iris and the Friends tells of the final year of Murdoch's life, when she was visited more by her own imaginary "friends" than by the exigencies of real life. It brings the story through Bayley's increasingly precarious hold on present reality, to his own breakdown, Murdoch's final happy weeks in a home for the terminally ill and finally her quiet death. Although ostensibly a sequel, it is more an exploration of Bayley's new friends: the memories that were sparked off precisely as Murdoch lost her own--of his childhood, army years, first loves and, of course, their marriage. But there are other "friends". At one point Bayley writes: "The old Eng. Lit. again. I taught it for nearly fifty years and feel detached from it now." Yet literature emerges here as the one remaining constant in his life. Scarcely two pages go by without a reference, almost involuntary, to Hardy, Coleridge, Austen, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Thurber, James, Lawrence, Woolf or Murdoch. Sometimes Iris appears to respond to the shared literary in-jokes, but more often the pair become "two animals pushing together, nudging and grooming each other, grunting together as they bask in a mutual doze." It's an incredibly intimate glimpse into what should be a personal life, but as Bayley observes tellingly: "There is a surreal sense in which Alzheimer's has turned Iris herself into art. She is my Iris no longer, but a person in the public domain." - Alan Stewart, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW
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Book Description Harper Collins Audio, 1999. No Binding. Book Condition: As New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. Read by Derek Jacobi: New . Cassettes x 2: New . 1999. Bookseller Inventory # 10055