The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie PDF é of Miss PDF/EPUB

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie At the staid Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, teacher extraordinaire Miss Jean Brodie is unmistakably, and outspokenly, in her prime She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods and strives to bring out the best in each one of her students Determined to instill in them independence, passion, and ambition, Miss Brodie advises them, Safety does not come first Goodness, Truth, and Beauty come first Follow me And they do but one of them will betray her [PDF / Epub] ★ Longbow Girl ✪ Linda Davies – Lavons.co.uk Scotland [EPUB] ✻ On His Naughty List ❀ Jessica Jarman – Lavons.co.uk teacher extraordinaire Miss Jean Brodie is unmistakably [PDF / Epub] ☆ Fire Colour One Author Jenny Valentine – Lavons.co.uk and outspokenly [Download] ➶ Invisible Wounds By Kay Douglas – Lavons.co.uk in her prime She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods and strives to bring out the best in each one of her students Determined to instill in them independence ❮Download❯ ➽ A City Possessed ➸ Author Lynley Hood – Lavons.co.uk passion [Reading] ➿ Her Husbands Mistake Author Sheila O& – Lavons.co.uk and ambition ❰EPUB❯ ✺ Mr Dove Über Den Wassern Author Maurice Shadbolt – Lavons.co.uk Miss Brodie advises them ➳ [Reading] ➶ Squirmy Wormy By Lynda Farrington Wilson ➩ – Lavons.co.uk Safety does not come first Goodness ➮ [Ebook] ➩ Honeymoon By Sacha J. Witt ➺ – Lavons.co.uk Truth [PDF / Epub] ☀ Puck You By Peyton Novak – Lavons.co.uk and Beauty come first Follow me And they do but one of them will betray her I know I ve had this happen to me before, be surprised by a book Let me explain As I started reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, I imagine I would like it Yes, I did However, as I finished Muriel Spark s novel my sentiments were much stronger I knew that I had to read it again sometime soon That has happened to me before, and don t get me wrong, there have been many books that had the same impact on me Like The Lover, Madame Bovary and Atonement, just to mention three of my favorite bo I know I ve had this happen to me before, be surprised by a book Let me explain As I started reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, I imagine I would like it Yes, I did However, as I finished Muriel Spark s novel my sentiments were much stronger I knew that I had to read it again sometime soon That has happened to me before, and don t get me wrong, there have been many books that had the same impact on me Like The Lover, Madame Bovary and Atonement, just to mention three of my favorite books However, I just did not expect to feel it so strongly here.There is a reason for that This is a book about our perceptions of ourselves and of the people around us, and it is flawlessly done Spark s narrative is crisply and wryly witty, subtly ironic in its toneWould that I had been given charge of you girls when you were seven I sometimes fear it s too late, now If you had been mine when you were seven you would have been the cr me de la cr me Sandy, come and read some stanzas and let us hear your vowel sounds It s a fast and fun read, very scintillating and brilliantly structured Spark has a mastery over her material, which few writers that I know have She moves from time frame to time frame or from reality to imaginative fantasy, frequently without any transition.The plot concerns the unconventional schoolteacher, Miss Jean Brodie, and tells how she seeks to influence a chosen group of schoolgirls the so called Brodie Set They are introduced to us as six pre adolescent girls and are charming but flawed Their fates are something that you end caring for deeply.When Spark introduces one of her set, we are first exposed to her styleBack and forth along the corridors ran Mary Macgregor, through the thickening smoke She ran one way then, turning, the other way and at either end the blast furnace of the fire met her She heard no screams, for the roar of the fire drowned the screams, she gave no scream, for the smoke was choking her But at the beginning of the nineteen thirties, when Mary Macgregor was ten, there she was sitting blankly among Miss Brodie s pupils Who has spilled ink on the floor was it you, Mary As she plays with her narrative, going forward and backward in time, and going into the fanciful daydreams of the girls particularly in the figure of Miss Brodie s most promising student, Sandy the story reads so easily that it could delude the reader to think it was effortlessly done This is one of the few books I ve read where it seems entirely blatant that the author is in complete control of every aspect of her narrative She writes with a richness that injects life into her work The author is somehow able to pack a vast number of well cultivated characters and expand into their lives and dreams into this 150 page book This seems to be the perfect description of Miss Jean BrodieShe was not in any doubt, she let everyone know she was in no doubt, that God was on her side whatever her course, and so she experienced no difficulty or sense of hypocrisy in worship while at the same time she went to bed with the singing master Just as an excessive sense of guilt can drive people to excessive action, so was Miss Brodie driven to it by an excessive lack of guilt Much of the novel is relayed through the eyes of Sandy, who becomes a confidante of the teacher Miss Brodie virtually wages war on the school as the beleaguered headmistress, Miss Mackay attempts to reign in her disturbing influence on the girls and find a way to force the teacher to resign It is true that Miss Brodie tends to tell the girls about her ideas and love affairs, rather than drilling them with their lessons, but they are still hercreme de la creme You know, Sandy said, these are supposed to be the happiest days of our lives Yes, they are always saying that, Jenny said They say, make the most of your schooldays because you never know what lies ahead of you Miss Brodie says prime is best, Sandy said Yes, but she never got married like our mothers and fathers They don t have primes, said Sandy They have sexual intercourse, Jenny said For me, the book is aboutthan just a bunch of schoolgirls growing up It s about passion, and friendship, superficial and otherwise, and the disappointment of seeing your idols as mere human beings with their constant need to belong that is such a normal feeling in us all Despite all critic that we can lay at Miss Brodie for her meddling with her pupils, there is no doubt that they idolized her and enjoyed being in her careMary MacGregor, although she lived into her twenty fourth year, never quite realised that Jean Brodie s confidences were not shared with the rest of the staff and that her love story was given out only to the pupils On one occasion of real misery when her first and last boy friend, a corporal whom she had known for two weeks, deserted her by failing to turn up at an appointed place and failing to come near her again she thought back to see if she had ever been happy in her life it occurred to her then that the first years with Miss Brodie, sitting listening to all those stories and opinions which had nothing to do with the ordinary world, had been the happiest time of her life What delighted me was Spark s use of irony, humor, and finely controlled development The author shines at character sketches, not only of Miss Brodie and her set, but also gives us considerable portraits of the sexy one armed art teacher, the shy music teacher, and even the limited but funny and rather inept and awkward headmistress Spark catches accurately the malleable, romantic, changing perceptions of her supposedly sheltered girls as they grow up.Brodie s is a tight knit group, but, inevitably, one of her charges begins to see the dangers of Brodie s self centered agenda, ending up betraying her In the narrative, we read how Miss Brodie defines her pupils, Sandy, she calls insightful Others are regarded as knowledgeable about sex or even stupid Thus, we start to see how the teacher becomes a despot We know for a fact that mentors, as any human being, are not always what they seem Miss Brodie seems herself to reveal aspects of adolescent rebellion And she revels in her influence, while her prot g s are forced to mature too quickly Miss Brodie admits openly how the admiration of her impressionable set is important to herGive me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life Miss Brodie in her prime becomes an idealized and nurturing teacher for certain selected students She repeatedly tells the girls their destinies as she sees them and not always nicely she goes to the extreme of encouraging one of them to have an affair with a married man, exactly the art teacher whom Miss Brodie seems to loveIt was plain that Miss Brodie wanted Rose with her instinct to start preparing to be Teddy Lloyd s lover and Sandy with her insight to act as an informant on the affair It was to this end that Rose and Sandy had been chosen as the cr me de la cr me There was a whiff of sulphur about the idea which fascinated Sandy in her present mind After all, it was only an idea And there was no pressing hurry in the matter, for Miss Brodie liked to take her leisure over the unfolding of her plans, most of the joy deriving from the preparation, At the same time, her humanity and flaws are all too clear she idealizes Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini The novel is set in the cultural backdrop of 1930 s Edinburgh, and its puritanical environment The wider background also appears in the Spanish civil war and the rise of fascism, which Miss Brodie fiercely and naively admires However, this has to be viewed in its historical context, since fascist sympathies were fairly common in Britain before the war.The fascisti are very present for the Brodie setIt occured to Sandy that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie s fascisti, not to the naked eye, marching along, but all knit together for her need and in another way, marching along That was all right, but it seemed, too, that Miss Brodie s disapproval of the Girl Guides had jealousy in it, there was an inconsistency, a fault Perhaps the Guides were too much a rival fascisti, and Miss Brodie could not bear it Sandy thought she might see about joining the Brownies Then the group fright seized her again, and it was necessary to put the idea aside, because she loved Miss Brodie Spark s vivid characterizations becomes an incantation like repetition of certain phrases likecreme de la cremeorin my primeDespite the fact that Miss Brodie does not make up for a good role model or is far from being the ideal mentor for young girls, I could not help but be enthralled by her And her imperfections are blatant However, we can recognize several people we know in Miss Brodie Starting with her disregard and even disrespect for others, who can say never to have sinned so Here we have to be honest and include ourselves since everybody shares a little of Miss Brodie s idiosyncrasies For she is strong willed and determined, intelligent and independent, and yet she is vulnerable because she wants so desperately to be revered by her girls and be loved by the men in her otherwise lonely life The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a book that deserves to be read by everyone Highly recommended The prime of Miss Jean Brodietakes us back to the Edinburgh of the thirties School mistress Miss Jean Brodie has selected six of her students to take as confidants These girls will be the recipients of Miss Brodie s unorthodox education that includes fictionalized versions of her love affairs magnified by her need to prolong her prime as much as possible The resulting story revolves around the complex, humoristic and even a bit extravagant relationship that Miss Brodie develops with herThe prime of Miss Jean Brodietakes us back to the Edinburgh of the thirties School mistress Miss Jean Brodie has selected six of her students to take as confidants These girls will be the recipients of Miss Brodie s unorthodox education that includes fictionalized versions of her love affairs magnified by her need to prolong her prime as much as possible The resulting story revolves around the complex, humoristic and even a bit extravagant relationship that Miss Brodie develops with her girls, who grow up under the shadow of their teacher s frustrations and contradictions quite liberal in certain areas, Miss Brodie s radical conservatism shows in her admiration for fascist ideals Caught in the swirling emotions of her overly dramatized romances, Miss Brodie underestimates the powerful influence she has over the lives of these impressionable young women that will lead one of them to betray her trust.Besides the not so original plot, what resultedfascinating to me is the technique through which Muriel Spark unfolds the personalities and the outcome of the characters Many of the transcendental events are revealed in flash forwards that recur in a pattern of descriptive attributes of the already adult women, so the reader knows from the beginning what the future will have in store for the Brodie set where will Rose s magnetic sexuality lead her Or Mary Macgregor s clumsiness Or Jenny s natural beauty Nevertheless, the life experiences of these girls are irrelevant to the escalating dramatic tension of the narrative, where a somewhat cruel humor takes the stage and the eccentricity of Miss Brodie, whose emotions remain hidden from the reader and are only glimpsed through the girls perspectives, boosts to create a memorably ignoble character whose passion for life exceeds her manipulative nature In the end, Miss Brodie s blessing turns into her curse she is condemned to live her life through her young surrogates and loses control of her own destiny.Quite a peculiar little book Sharp, incisive and vibrant, it can easily deceive because of its apparent lightness and slightly comical undertone, but the somewhat veiled, subversive facet of Spark s artistry won t leave any reader indifferent, for Miss Brodie s dilemmas and dirty secrets are, after all, our own Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life We remember our best and worst teachers all our lives The ones who moulded us, however much we resisted I particularly remember the English teacher who continued to take an active interest in me after I dropped it as a subject, because I wanted to read purely for pleasure I was thrilled to meet her again, a few years ago The geography teachers who fostered a gentle rivalry among their Oxbridge hopefuls And the house mistre Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life We remember our best and worst teachers all our lives The ones who moulded us, however much we resisted I particularly remember the English teacher who continued to take an active interest in me after I dropped it as a subject, because I wanted to read purely for pleasure I was thrilled to meet her again, a few years ago The geography teachers who fostered a gentle rivalry among their Oxbridge hopefuls And the house mistresses who knew when to turn a blind eye to midnight feasts and sneaking out But I also remember some cruel PE teachers and an exceedingly boring and ineffective history teacher And then there was the English and drama teacher who was best and worst when sober, she was original, irreverent and inspirational, but when she was drunk, she was intimidating, irascible, and ineffective, and our best bet was to persuade to to read Just William aloud until the bell went she taught ages 11 14 Where does Miss Brodie fit in this Venn diagram She was certainly memorable, but I was surprised to find myself asking if she was one of the best or worst teachers I d somehow never read this famous 1961 novella set in an Edinburgh private school in the 1930s, nor seen the film starring Dame Maggie Smith.The first two thirds were a delightful portrayal of the dedicated, spiky, unconventional, feminist Miss Brodie s grooming of her cr me de la cr me six girls in the book, four in the film to be cultured and to grasp all the opportunities life could offer, especially when they reach their Prime, whenever that may be The final third suggested a different sort of grooming.Flash forwards are not spoilersThe story mainly covers the girls last two years in the junior school, aged 10 12, in Miss Brodie s class, through the senior school, which they leave around age 17, having remained in constant contact with her Right from the start, there are frequent mentions of what the future holds, especially what will be each girl s fame.Opening minds To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil s soul Miss Brodie takes the girls to art galleries, museums, and to see the poorer areas of their city It was Sandy s first experience of a foreign country, which intimates itself by its new smells and shapes and its new poor Each Saturday, she invites them to tea She tells them about her fianc who died in the Great War, her travels, her admiration for Mussolini, her opinions of the other teachers, andbesides.Triangle or polygon Romantic pre pubescent girls, fascinated by adult relationships, notice Miss Brodie s fondness for the two male teachers, apparently reciprocated, and Sandy and Jenny enjoy writing imagined love letters If I am in a certain condition I shall place the infant in the care of a worthy shepherd and his wife, and we can discuss it calmly as platonic acquaintances I may permit misconduct to occur again from time to time as an outlet because I am in my Prime Sweet, harmless, and amusing But later, things getcomplicated, as Miss Brodie takes Sandy and Rose deeper into her confidence She sees them as useful opposites one with insight but no instinct, and the other with instinct but no insight She uses them as puppets, pawns, substitutes Image Film poster Source Betrayal It s only possible to betray where loyalty is due Said by a nun, towards the end This is a Big Theme, oft mentioned Miss Brodie goes to different protestant denominations every Sunday, but was not in any doubt that God was on her side whatever her course, and so she experienced no difficulty or sense of hypocrisy in worship when she did not abide by the accepted rules of the church She is driven by an excessive lack of guilt and thinks Catholicism is mere superstition However, Biblical betrayal and sectarian differences are secondary Miss Brodie sadvanced and seditious methods are not appreciated in the genteel girls school, and she s aware the headmistress wants an excuse to force her out She cultivates her Brodie Set to take her side and report to her when that s been necessary, emphasising that her leading out approach is the opposite of putting her ideas in their heads We also know from early on, and repeatedly thereafter, that someone will betray her We assume it s one of the six There s another important betrayal that s never mentioned outright Should a teacher put her pupils in such a position in the first place Regardless, Miss Brodie creates farquestionable situations, with damaging outcomes for three girls, including one not in Miss Brodie s set, but acting under her influence Back to my Venn diagram, Miss Brodie is unarguably memorable, and she was good in the sense of effective, but she was bad as she is portrayed here in the wider, moral sense But maybe the unknown omniscient narrator seeks to justify themselves, as Miss Brodie did.Perhaps a Catholic half believes in Calvinistic predestination Maybe the narrator is prone to imaginative flights of fancy, as Sandy and Jenny were Maybe the narrator is Sandy Image Broken trust Source Quotes Vastly informed on a lot of subjects irrelevant to the authorised curriculum The unfamiliar pineapple had the authentic taste and appearance of happiness Goodness, Truth and Beauty come first Art is greater than science Art and religion first then philosophy lastly science Teachers who had stalked past Miss Brodie saying good morning with predestination in their smiles Dazzled by their new subjects until the languages of physics and chemistry, algebra and geometry had lost their elemental strangeness and become hard work He looked at her with love and she looked at him severely and possessively She looked with the near blackmailing insolence of her knowledge Everyone likes to visit a nun, it provides a spiritual sensation During the latter half of 2019, I noted that many GR friends were reading Muriel Spark Quite a few reviews of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie popped up on the site I had seen the movie starring Maggie Smith as Jean Brodie and remembered her portrayal well I decided I best read one of her novels as I hadn t done so to date.Set in 1930 s Scotland, Jean Brodie teaches in a small private school in Edinburgh She takes a few favored young girls under her wing to teach them the ways of the world from During the latter half of 2019, I noted that many GR friends were reading Muriel Spark Quite a few reviews of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie popped up on the site I had seen the movie starring Maggie Smith as Jean Brodie and remembered her portrayal well I decided I best read one of her novels as I hadn t done so to date.Set in 1930 s Scotland, Jean Brodie teaches in a small private school in Edinburgh She takes a few favored young girls under her wing to teach them the ways of the world from her perspective which are seen by many as unconventional Her chosen girls become known as the Brodie set At first her ideals seem innocent, but as the book progresses a permeating darkness appears The book is narrated by Sandy, one of the Brodie set Through her young eyes we see a subtle humor in their circumstances Most significantly with the love life of their teacher who doesn t find it necessary to restrain herself with all the details Brodie s passion and independence influence the Set s behavior They hold themselves above others in the school Behind the scenes, however, develops an increasing influence that is both lovable and cruel Mss Brodie s control turns manipulative She speaks of fascism and fantasy Jean Brodie plans their future, until someone close betrays her There are many hidden depths to this book.Although Jean Brodie s actions are disturbing, I couldn t help but feel bad for her throughout the book Her forced early retirement is sad.A lovely book and a favorite.5 out of 5 stars Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is a name possibly not known or cared for beyond the frontiers of India At the tender age of 17 this man of Anglo Indian descent, possessing a sharp intellect and an even sharper tongue, was already a Professor of English Literature and History, busy influencing a group of eager, well bred young men hailing from affluent Bengali families in Calcutta He became a leading figure in the age of socio cultural reform movements in Bengal in the dawn of the 19th century thro Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is a name possibly not known or cared for beyond the frontiers of India At the tender age of 17 this man of Anglo Indian descent, possessing a sharp intellect and an even sharper tongue, was already a Professor of English Literature and History, busy influencing a group of eager, well bred young men hailing from affluent Bengali families in Calcutta He became a leading figure in the age of socio cultural reform movements in Bengal in the dawn of the 19th century through his dissemination of Western philosophical and scientific ideas at a time when our society was stagnating in a cesspool of ignorance and blind prejudices And his close knit group of brilliant young students of the Hindu College who were referred to by the smart moniker ofDerozians , much in the same manner of the ill famedBrodie setof TPOMJB, were viewed with as much suspicion as unacknowledged respect But following the pattern of reception of new ideas which are regarded radical and therefore dangerously subversive in their times, Derozio was expelled from the Hindu College and this in turn applied an abrupt brake on the Young Bengal movement As much as my teenage self had looked upon the Derozio name and his legacy with a kind of starry eyed deference, post acquaintance with a fictional educator as sociopathic and ambiguous as Miss Jean Brodie, I am forced to view this whole idea of an inspirational teacher weaning a student away from conventional methods of learning with utmost skepticism No I do not intend to overlook Derozio s small but significant contribution to the collective betterment of our society of the times which in turn greatly aided the nationalist movement later on But maybe, it will be wise to probe deeper for the unadulterated truth rather than be so guilelessly accepting I am sure both Muriel Spark and Derozio himself would have approved.Young, impressionable minds being shaped according to someone else s personal standards of nauseating elitism and if one is unlucky enough to fall under the spell of some conniving Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, being sucked right into a sinister trap What a slippery slope this is This setting about to correct the course undertaken by a young learner under the facade of challenging conformity, with a perverse sense of authoritarian entitlementI know better than you, therefore you must follow my instructionsIn the way of Miss Jean Brodie s attempts at manipulating adolescent girls into competing with each other to be made a part of her veneratedcr me de la cr me , people of insidious intent devise ways of propagating some attractive piece of ideology with confident pronouncements of it being the path of righteousness and all that familiar drivel Which is why I now realize how treacherous traversing this distance between not knowing and knowing a little better is there s no way to fill up the vacuum of ignorance other than with information in any form that is available nearby and you better hope that pedagogical influence of the likes of the magnetic Miss Jean Brodies of the world does not hold free reign in the vicinity at the timeGive me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for lifeIt s been a while since something quite as innocuous sounding as the above claim has left me feeling so deeply unsettled Truth is stranger than fiction And that is a strange truth indeed considering the amount of strange things Muriel Spark manages to fit into her slim fiction Miss Brodie s prime is as strange a phenomenon as they come She is both modern and traditional, radical and conservative, openminded and protectionist She is a Natural Fascist in the 1930s, a Scottish schoolmistress by trade but a girl shaper by profession Give her a girl at an impressionable age, and she will form out of that mallea Truth is stranger than fiction And that is a strange truth indeed considering the amount of strange things Muriel Spark manages to fit into her slim fiction Miss Brodie s prime is as strange a phenomenon as they come She is both modern and traditional, radical and conservative, openminded and protectionist She is a Natural Fascist in the 1930s, a Scottish schoolmistress by trade but a girl shaper by profession Give her a girl at an impressionable age, and she will form out of that malleable clay the kind of portrait her heroes Mussolini and Hitler would have burned.She sneaks into the portraits of one man while taking possession of the eating and sleeping habits of another, but it won t be possible for the desperate Headmistress to get rid of her relying on a sex scandal Politics, a mere side interest, will be her downfall, and her Judas will differ from the traditional one in the fact that she does not really feel guilt one can only betray where loyalty is due, she thinks, and once you look underneath the shiny surface, all narcissists even those in their prime look ridiculous.As stories go, this one sparkles just as much as a glass of vintage champagne For the record, though don t try to achieve Miss Brodie s downfall by checking her drinking habits, she barely shares a half bottle of sherry with her set of six girls on her birthday That s it.Politics, not sex and drugs, will bring her down, unlike most male narcissists, who get away with both fascism and unconventional sex Sex, art and politics Three areas of life where idealism can get stuck in and have a field day Miss Brodie has made a vocation of applying gold glitter to her preferences in life and seeks with single minded righteousness to create a likeness of herself in her pupils But in this novel Muriel Spark shows us she s not a great fan of idealism In fact, she mercilessly ridicules it as a philosophical blueprint The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie sets itself up as a moral fable Except it refuses to a Sex, art and politics Three areas of life where idealism can get stuck in and have a field day Miss Brodie has made a vocation of applying gold glitter to her preferences in life and seeks with single minded righteousness to create a likeness of herself in her pupils But in this novel Muriel Spark shows us she s not a great fan of idealism In fact, she mercilessly ridicules it as a philosophical blueprint The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie sets itself up as a moral fable Except it refuses to answer any of the moral questions it throws up in any pat convenient fashion We have a classroom where there are two guiding lights the ostensibly inspiring and progressive Miss Brodie, the teacher, and the ostensibly repressive mediocre headmistress, Miss Mackay At face value it would appear a straightforward struggle between an admirable advocate of free thought and a life sapping advocate of rote learning No hesitation here on who one is going to side with But Spark throws one firecracker after another into the mix Miss Brodie becomesandmorally questionable, not least for her cheap reactionary enthusiasm for fascism The headmistress, whatever faults she might have, is not a supporter of Mussolini and Hitler, strong men as Brodie calls them Miss Mackay articulates in her mediocre cerebration the fraught moral ambivalence fizzing throughout this novel when she tells one of her pupils You are very fortunate in Miss Brodie I could wish your arithmetic papers were better I am always impressed by Miss Brodie s girls in one way or another You will have to work at ordinary humble subjects for the qualifying examination Miss Brodie is giving you an excellent preparation for the senior school Culture cannot compensate for lack of hard knowledge I am happy to see you are devoted to Miss Brodie Your loyalty is due to the school rather than to any one individual The generous inspiring teacher awakening the sensibilities of her pupils has become a clich of unalloyed virtue in our culture But Spark refuses to go down this beaten path She takes us into the woods In fact, it s highly questionable whether Miss Brodie s influence has any positive repercussions on any of her girls in later life I loved it After reviewing several of Muriel Spark s less well known books recently, I m now attempting to review the one that made her famous I imagined that it would be the easiest to write about, being the one with the most interesting structure and the least absurd plot , but no, the opposite has been the case In fact, I ve had to scrap the review I wrote the other day because, for all its sensible words, it completely missed the point of the book I knew what the point was but I somehow got sidetra After reviewing several of Muriel Spark s less well known books recently, I m now attempting to review the one that made her famous I imagined that it would be the easiest to write about, being the one with the most interesting structure and the least absurd plot , but no, the opposite has been the case In fact, I ve had to scrap the review I wrote the other day because, for all its sensible words, it completely missed the point of the book I knew what the point was but I somehow got sidetracked due to the cunning of the main character, and ended up focusing my review entirely on Miss Brodie But, I hear you say, Miss Jean Brodie is the main character.Well, she gets top billing on the front cover and in readers minds, but that s only because the main character allows her to The main character is pulling all the strings in this book, even the reader s Let s be clear, you say There s a third person narrator in this book, and therefore the narrator is the one who pulls the strings The narrator author gives the characters their roles, and controls their fates That s just how it is.The way I see it, the main character and the narrator are one and the same person Miss Sandy Stranger, aged ten when we first meet her Of course, Sandy lets us think there s a narrator, but in reality the entire story is being told by Sandy herself It s a kind of double act If you look closely, you ll see that there isn t a single episode she couldn t have witnessed or heard about And there s a clue about her authorship of the story early in the book The Transfiguration of the Commonplace That s the title of a book that we are told Sandy will write in later life It s ostensibly a psychology textbook about the perception of moral issues and how to act on them, but here s the thing I believe that Sandy s Transfiguration book is really this book, the Miss Jean Brodie book It s a very economical method, you see, this double act, just as in the case of Teddy Lloyd s portraits of the Brodie set which simultaneously looked like the sitter and also like Miss Brodie Two portraits for one, two books for one Why not One day you will go too far, I hear you say But wait a moment Isn t the crux of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie the perception of a moral issue and the decision to act on it Well, of course, you say, everyone knows that, whether they ve read the book or seen the film Everyone knows about Miss Brodie s incitement of her pupils towards fascism, and her subsequent enforced retirement But what about the Transfiguration of the Commonplace How do you make that fit with your crazy theory Take a moment to consider what Sandy tells us about herself as a child Sandy was never bored, but she had to lead a double life of her own in order never to be bored Her double life as I see it involved the constant transfiguration of the commonplace You see, Sandy s vision of everybody and everything is very acute, in spite of the fact that she has tiny eyes But Sandy proves time and time again that her tiny eyes are capable of transforming even the most humdrum aspects of the world into something out of the ordinary Everything she can transfigure gets transfigured As she reads The Lady of Shalott aloud in the classroom, Sandy is transformed into the Lady s confidante, and the classroom into Camelot.A walk with her classmates through the reeking network of Edinburgh slums becomes a breath taking adventure in the Highlands with Alan Breck, the hero of Kidnapped.A line of unemployed men queuing to enter a dole office becomes a dragon s body, unslayable.Miss Brodie herself, her brown head held high becomes Joan of Arc On another day, her nose arched and proud, she is Sybil Thorndyke Even the way the Brodie set wore their school hats was a transformation of the ordinary when narrated by Sandy But the opposite can also happen in Sandy s world, as when the Mona Lisa with her famous smile becomes simply a woman with her lower jaw swollen from a visit to the dentist And Miss Jean Brodie eventually becomes a rather tiresome woman well past her prime.However, the most remarkable example of transfiguration concerns a piece of tinned pineapple Here we are verging on transubstantiation To Sandy the unfamiliar pineapple had the authentic taste and appearance of happiness and she focussed her small eyes closely on the pale gold cubes before she scooped them up in her spoon, and she thought the sharp taste on her tongue was that of a special happiness, which was nothing to do with eatingWell, you say, all that is in the text of course, and a reader can make whatever patterns out of the facts she chooses, but none of it proves that Sandy is the narrator of this book Hmm One of Sandy s favourite transformations involves daydreaming that she is plain Jane Eyre having enigmatic conversations with romantic moody Mr Rochester.So..You might remember that in this book, Sandy and the very romantic and moody Mr Lloyd have some enigmatic conversations in which he teases her about not being beautiful Eventually however, they become lovers The interesting thing about Mr Lloyd, and which makes me think Sandy invented him, is that he only has one arm After all, by the time Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester eventually became lovers, he too had only one arm Now you really have gone too far This entire review is completely absurd.Is it really Well, perhaps I have taken things to a bit of an extreme Pity I deleted all those sensible words I wrote about Miss Brodie the other day A masterpiece.Rather like The Girls of Slender Means you are strongly aware of the economical construction, the careful rocking of the narrative backwards and forwards in time so that you know everything that will happen in the story in advance Yet this has an odd effect in maintaining and sustaining the narrative, you are shifted from wanting to know what will happen, to how it will happen, to why it will happen, from events, dear boy, events to psychology As I approached the end of this simp A masterpiece.Rather like The Girls of Slender Means you are strongly aware of the economical construction, the careful rocking of the narrative backwards and forwards in time so that you know everything that will happen in the story in advance Yet this has an odd effect in maintaining and sustaining the narrative, you are shifted from wanting to know what will happen, to how it will happen, to why it will happen, from events, dear boy, events to psychology As I approached the end of this simple story about schoolgirls, sex and their teacher, I thought I had realised something clever about the teacher, only to find on page 120 one of the characters thought the same thought as I had had, buteconomically After I had finished the book, I then, in my typical dark and suspicious mode of thinking began to dourly realise that I hadn t probably thought that thought at all, rather it had been planted view spoiler what horror hide spoiler by the author herself, which might be clever considering that she s dead view spoiler but that is what books and reading can do they allow wicked scheming dead people to drop ideas into empty heads hide spoiler.This is to be expected, because this is a book about teaching and education, is education as the word implies, about leading forth, as one might lead a donkey up and down a beach, or is education about stuffing things into to the tender heads of young people Naturally the author, who was not only Sparky but also witty and cunning does both Actually this book makes me feel a bit sick, on bookshop shelves I see fat things, books that look to be half a tree thick, and here s this thing that s like an arrow It could be shot through a shelf of over written tripe I blame computers, in previous days when authors used manual typewriters and carbon paper, there was a real incentive not to type too much, just to spare your fingers Anyway, that s enough prattling, here is this terribly short book about schoolgirls, sex, teachers, education, God, and Fascism not necessarily in that order In which the author works on you by turns with a rasp or a hand plane I read and think to myself how was this done And I run my fingers over the page as though it was a cabinet, feeling for the joins Anyway, read it if you have a care to


About the Author: Muriel Spark

Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eliot Award in 1992 and the David Cohen Prize in 1997 She became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993, in recognition of her services to literature She has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, in 1969 for The Public Image and in 1981 for Loitering with Intent In 1998, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for a Lifetime s Distinguished Service to Literature In 2010, Spark was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize of 1970 for The Driver s Seat.Spark received eight honorary doctorates in her lifetime These included a Doctor of the University degree Honoris causa from her alma mater, Heriot Watt University in 1995 a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris causa from the American University of Paris in 2005 and Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London, Oxford, St Andrews and Strathclyde.Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel, The Comforters, in 1957 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, published in 1961, and considered her masterpiece, was made into a stage play, a TV series, and a film.


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