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Elegy for Iris (The Iris Trilogy #2)

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  876 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 20th 1999 by Picador (first published January 1st 1999)
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Christopher Roth
This book was already known to me as the memoir of Iris Murdoch's descent into Alzheimer's, written by her husband while she was still alive. (Never saw the movie.) I was less disturbed by the tragedy of Alzheimer's than by the unsettling dynamic between Iris and John and what it reveals about each of them—most of it revealed unwittingly by the author. It was already known that she continued to have a richly populated bisexual sex life after marrying John, but this is not what bothered me: after ...more
Bryan
Aug 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: misogynists
John Bayley was told by a woman in similar circumstances to himself that “being married to someone with Alzheimer’s disease is like being chained to a corpse”. Unfortunately in this self-indulgent memoir of 40 years of marriage to Iris Murdoch it seems that Bayley himself has been the perpetual corpse, meekly and dutifully trailing along after his formidable wife and responding to her every demand. Even when she fully succumbs to dementia he fails to respond to the frustrations of the situation, ...more
Peggy
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Peggy by: Marcia Till
I had to switch my four stars to three, and I'm sure it's worth four or even five stars to most readers. It's just that I had difficulty getting through the random memories and ruminations John Bayley brings to this book. Again, I lay the blame on myself rather than the author who is obviously learned, highly intelligent and intellectual (although he spends much time downplaying or protesting this). It sometimes reads like a literary circles name-dropping fest, other times is so introspective in ...more
Estelle
In this poignant memoir, looking back to their meeting, "courtship" and marriage, Bayley eloquently describes his marriage to Iris Murdock as separateness, yet togetherness, each pursuing their illustrious academic careers.  Never overly romantic  but never estranged, it is a comfortable companionship, made up of common interests - a swim in the river ( they take their honeymoon on the continent searching for rivers to swim in, with delightful and comical experiences), radio broadcasts at luncht ...more
Jamie Collins
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
John Bayley’s memoir about his wife, award-winning author Iris Murdoch, who was still alive at the time he wrote this - but her mind was almost entirely lost to Alzheimer’s Disease.

I picked this up because I liked the movie; I watched the movie not because I’d ever heard of Iris Murdoch but because it stars Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent as the older Iris and John, and Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville as the younger versions. That’s a great team of actors, and the movie is good.

I found the book a
...more
Laura
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
From IMDb:
True story of the lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, from their student days through her battle with Alzheimer's disease.>

Cast:
Kate Winslet ... Young Iris Murdoch
Hugh Bonneville ... Young John Bayley
Judi Dench ... Iris Murdoch
Jim Broadbent ... John Bayley
Penelope Wilton ... Janet Stone

It's curious to see 2 characters from Dowton Abbey, Hugh Bonneviile and Penelope Wilton playing together in this movie. And Kate Winslet and Judi Dench are sple
...more
Cindy Jacobsen
This 'elegy' (a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead) certainly is a reflection of a life gone as it tells the story of Iris Murdoch by her husband John Bayley. It rambles around the years circling back to her Alzheimer's disease. For a relatively short book it felt like it would never end.
Cygny
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, nursing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elegy for Iris is, like the movie, like two stories wrapped into one.

The first is about the early days of romance and marriage for the book’s namesake, author Iris Murdoch and her husband and the book’s author John Bayley. The story starts in the 1950’s with them meeting and the nature of their relationship. Murdoch and Bailey’s open relationship and marriage was, what we would now call, polyamorous. That worked for them. At least according to what the author wrote, it did and there is no reason
...more
Rebecca Brothers
I read Iris Murdoch in college with my professor Dr. Roberta White. I loved Murdoch's brilliantly smart fiction. When Dr. White told us the author had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, my thoughts immediately jumped to the loss we would all have as her brain collapsed in on itself. I was dating the man who would become my husband, and I knew his grandfather had early-onset of the same disease. I had watched him try to talk to his grandfather, to reach the man he loved so much, and I had w ...more
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Professor John Bayley CBE, FBA, FRSL is a British literary critic and writer.

Bayley was born in Lahore, British India, and educated at Eton, where he studied under G. W. Lyttelton, who also taught Aldous Huxley, J. B. S. Haldane, George Orwell and Cyril Connolly. After leaving Eton, he went on to take a degree at New College, Oxford. From 1974 to 1992, Bayley was Warton Professor of English at Oxf
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More about John Bayley...

Other Books in the Series

The Iris Trilogy (3 books)
  • Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
  • Iris and Her Friends

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