'My friends, my friends, I say to the teacups and spoons. Such intense love for Puss - more and more,' Iris Murdoch wrote in her journal. It was the summer of 1993. Her 25th novel was just being published, and she was working at her last, Jackson's Dilemma. Who was Jackson? Puss asked her, but she could not tell. 'I don't think he's been born yet,' she said, at which Puss, accustomed to finding her amusing, was amused. The beginning was too mild, too like the customary affectionate nonsense of their married life, for alarm. It was the autumn of 1993. 'Find difficulty in thinking and writing. Be brave,' she wrote, and was. The near edge of the unknowable, never well fixed, advanced. It was 1994. There began to be bewilderment in public settings, and although the bewilderment belonged increasingly to others, enough remained (it was 1996) for grief. It was 1997, the year her Alzheimer's was diagnosed. 'My dear, I am now going away for some time,' she wrote. She wrote, 'I hope you will be well,' trailed off, began a second sheet of paper. 'My dear, I am now going away for some time. I hope you will be well.' She began a third.
LRB 5 September 2002 | PDF Download