Iris Murdoch attacked from beyond the grave

Click to follow

Iris Murdoch, one of Britain's most-loved writers, has been cast as a lightweight intellectual who was lousy in bed in memoirs by her dead ex-lover.

Elias Canetti, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1981, had a three-year affair with Murdoch during the early 1950s.

His memoirs, published without his permission after his death, are likely to further erode the reputation of Murdoch after those of her widower, John Bayley.

Bayley's memoirs, Elegy for Iris: A Memoir, lifted the lid on their unusual marriage. His book was made into the succcessful British film Iris.

Murdoch, who died in 1999, became Canetti's lover in 1953, the year before she met Bayley. In his memoirs, written in the early 1990s, Canetti writes: "I could say that she made much out of preying on me but it is mixed with so much other prey that one is embarrassed ... One could call Iris Murdoch the Oxford stew."

He described her relationship to other intellectuals as "like a housewife going shopping". Attacking her intellectually, Canetti wrote: "There is no single serious thought in her, everything sleeps on."

Describing their love-making, he observed: "She lay unmoved ... I hardly noticed that I was inside her, I did not feel she noticed anything."

Cannetti wrote on the manuscript of his book, Party in the Blitz: The English Years, which has been published in Germany and is to be reproduced here: "Temporary unordered draft (not to be published in this form)".

AN Wilson described Canetti in his controversial memoir of Murdoch as "a cruel man" who was "mentally sadistic" toward her.