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Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire
Nothing in the literary world has been as startling as the spotlight shone on the 74-year-old Oxford don John Bayley, whose New York Times best-selling Elegy for Iris has spoken to readers the world over about suffering, sacrifice, and love. With this new memoir, the life story of this extraordinary partnership is deepened. John Bayley began writing Iris...
Nothing in the literary world has been as startling as the spotlight shone on the 74-year-old Oxford don John Bayley, whose New York Times best-selling Elegy for Iris has spoken to readers the world over about suffering, sacrifice, and love. With this new memoir, the life story of this extraordinary partnership is deepened. John Bayley began writing Iris and Her Friends late at night, while his wife, the novelist Iris Murdoch, succumbed to the terminal stages of Alzheimer's Disease. In a Proustian irony, as Iris is losing her memory, Bayley is flooded with long-buried memories of his own--an inverse relationship that has created literature of the most extraordinary resonance. Eschewing the gloom associated with his family tragedy, Bayley luminously brings to life the remarkable story of a philosopher whose novels celebrated the goodness of everyday existence. In bursts of vivid, lyrical reverie, Bayley also recreates the unforgettable scenes of his youth: being born to a civil servant in colonial India; his epiphanic childhood vacations at the seaside English resort Littlestone-on-Sea, which gave him his first, important glimmers of adult consciousness; his discovery of the power of literature, especially the work of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Bowen, and Marcel Proust; and of course his long, heartbreaking romance with Iris. This is the transcendent work of a modest, generous, utterly brilliant man, whose deep examinations of his own life--both its tragedies and its joy--will give readers the same healing insight as did its remarkable predecessor. John Bayley's Iris and Her Friends will endure as nothing less than a classic of true love and sorrow.
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