We spoke too soon

In her review of John Bayley’s Elegy for Iris [February 12], Margaret O’Brien Steinfels noted that Iris Murdoch had succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease and her writing career was in the past tense, but that "an obituary is not yet in order."

Sorry then to report that according to the New York Times she died on Monday, February 8 in Oxford, England (the obituary appeared Tuesday, February 9 on page one of the Times and contained a series of excellent thumbnail reviews of many of her novels).

Bayley’s moving account of his forty-year marriage to Murdoch is a fitting elegy indeed. Rosemary Dinnage’s assessment, in a review of the same book (New York Review of Books, March 4, 1999), neatly summed up Murdoch’s achievement: "Murdoch did not just write philosophy as a philosopher and fiction as a novelist. It is all part of one oeuvre, which annoys purists, and makes her something of a prophetess-a very quiet, a very unassuming one." One is tempted to think Murdoch was an indispensible prophetess as well.

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