Erotic but not Erratic BB and IM .pdf
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Erotic but not Erratic
Brigid and Iris loved each other passionately, sexually, seriously, but
also fatally. They could not reconcile their differing beliefs about the
nature of love, and specifically about the nature of their love. The
resultant emotional tumults damaged the pair profoundly. Theirs seemed
to Brigid insuperable problems and such they proved to be. Eventually,
when Brigid found no remedy, she broke away from Iris.
The trajectory of the Iris-Brigid relationship can be traced in the large
tranche of letters Iris wrote over the course of their intense affair and
subsequent friendship. Brigid’s side of this correspondence was
destroyed (at her own request), which must, I think be regretted: my
mother’s letters sparkled with originality and candour, I conjecture.
Something of their merit may have occurred to Iris, since she told Brigid,
“It’s sad in some ways that our briefwechsel is not for posterity, only you
would come out of it better than I”.
That only one side of their correspondence exists should ignite a
cautionary flare to anyone interested enough to form an opinion as to
what the Murdoch letters reveal about whom.
It has been asserted that Brigid wanted more from Iris than Iris could
give. This I think is true, but it is a monstrously negligent reading of the
Murdoch letters which goes on to cast Brigid as “erratic” on account of
what have been characterised as her demands.
“I know I am blundering” Iris wrote at one stage, a sentiment with which
Brigid was likely to concur.
Brigid sought love in a higher register than Iris could attain. She wanted
a more individual, specific, circumscribed love from Iris. I feel certain she
would have elegantly expressed as much, in her devastatingly precise
manner. I have no doubt Iris felt reciprocal passion, however hers was
fundamentally a suffused, generalised and non-exclusive style of loving,
and Brigid found this gauzy and insufficient. In the end I think Iris’
character in love was deemed slippery, and infuriatingly elusive.
Iris was hugely attracted to Brigid’s superior intellect, and in thrall to her
abilities. So I want to scotch a second, damaging claim: I see no
evidence of a genuine two-way transmission of ideas, or of a truly
mutual exchange of inspiration between the two women. Something
more fertile to consider, and I believe the letters bear this out, is that
Brigid fulfilled for Iris a magisterial role, and that as her pupil, Iris let her
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