As literary feuds go, it's as good as they get
Charles Davis writes "As literary feuds go, it's as good as they get. Novelist and newspaper columnist AN Wilson has just published a biographical sketch
of his erstwhile friend and heroine, the writer Iris Murdoch. Among other things, the book is mischievously revelatory and quite
spectacularly rude about Murdoch's widower, John Bayley. He, of course, has already published three well-received books about his
wife, their marriage and her death from Alzheimer's disease (successfully adapted for the cinema as Iris, with Kate Winslet and Judi
Dench sharing the starring role).
As an antidote to what might be seen as the beatification of Iris and John, Wilson's Iris Murdoch As I Knew Her claims that Bayley
confessed that he [Bayley] did not like, or even read, his wife's novels; that Bayley's political opinions, allegedly including a
"whooping enthusiasm for capital punishment", placed him to the "right of Genghis Khan"; that Bayley's accounts of life with Iris
were at times misogynistic and motivated by envy of her success, and in general served to trivialise a great writer by reducing her to
an "Alzheimer's Lady".