Iris Murdoch’s philosopher was losing his words back in 1983 | Letters

Letters: The hero of The Philosopher’s Pupil deplores his increasing loss of control over language, a problem not at that time apparent to the other characters in the novel

You report (21 February) on research suggesting that Iris Murdoch’s use of language in later works such as Jackson’s Dilemma (1995) might be an indication of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. But I wonder whether Murdoch suspected a problem far earlier than it could become manifest to readers of her books. In The Philosopher’s Pupil (1983), the ageing philosopher, John Robert Rozanov, deplores his own increasing loss of control over language, a problem that is not, at that time, apparent to the other characters in the novel. He feels that he is “losing the clarity of his mind, losing his words, and mislaying his thoughts”.

Was Murdoch describing a situation that was already becoming apparent to her? Or is this just a tragic irony?
Tricia Ayrton
Rochdale, Lancashire

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