Muriel Spark’s timeless classic about a controversial teacher who deeply marks the lives of a select group of students in the years leading up to World War II “Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life!” So asserts Jean Brodie, a magnetic, dubious, and sometimes comic teacher at the conservative Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh. Brodie selects six favorite pupils to mold—and she doesn’t stop with just their intellectual lives. She has a plan for them all, including how they will live, whom they will love, and what sacrifices they will make to uphold her ideals. When the girls reach adulthood and begin to find their own destinies, Jean Brodie’s indelible imprint is a gift to some, and a curse to others. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is Spark’s masterpiece, a novel that offers one of twentieth-century English literature’s most iconic and complex characters—a woman at once admirable and sinister, benevolent and conniving. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Muriel Spark including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s archive at the National Library of Scotland.
Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on Mar 20, 2012
For me it’s an odd little book, very well written, with characters that are all a little lost and confused (as are we all). Jean Brodie is an eccentric character, fully aware that she is out of place but believing that she needs to remain there for the good of her girls. She has a persecution attitude, she feels she needs to be constantly vigilant against threats because she know that the headmistress would like to find a way to force her to leave. At the same time she is also fully unaware of her own faults, the threats she poses to her students, her own immorality (convincing a student to fight for Franco, manipulating a selected student to sleep with a married teacher in her place), her own shortcomings.But I know little about Catholicism or Calvinism so the author’s comparisons and metaphors (pointed out to me after doing some internet searches) went over my head.The use of time perspectives, flashing forward and back, is excellent. It serves a purpose, it’s never unclear, it doesn’t detract from the flow of the story, and it allows us to see the circumstances of the principle time frame from a multitude of time perspectives. Normally we can see the story from the perspective of different characters within the story but here we get to see the story from the perspective of those characters and from different time frames which magnifies the depth to which we can view the situations. For me this is one of the most excellent aspects of the book; I can’t think of an example where differing time perspectives are used so well and add so much value to the story.read more
A character study and power play of fascinating construction. In Miss Brodie, Dame Muriel Spark gave a prime example of a perfect and artistic presentation of a character’s state and fate. The novel’s layers of inquiry are peeled one by one, spoiling secrets like they don't matter at all, whose meanings are only incidental to the story and serves the greater purpose of feeding Miss Brodie’s ego. The novel concerns itself with the conflict between Insight and Instinct, virtues that Miss Brodie claims reside at the heart of her philosophy of education. Her self-proclaimed genius and superiority hinges, ultimately, on the unity or twinning within herself of Insight/Instinct. In her devotion to assimilate her influence over her brood of adolescent students who are at the mercy of her care, and in her insistence to spread her influence to them with utmost gusto, Miss Brodie is one of the most naïve and deluded characters invented in fiction.read more
Wonderful! A note-perfect, densely-woven little novel about an extraordinary, and extraordinarily strange, Scottish schoolmistress and the long-lasting effect she has on her favorite pupils. Candida McWilliams, who composed the introduction to my copy, writes, "So distinguished a technician is Muriel Spark that one may take practically any section of the book and it will provide metaphor for the entire book itself." She's absolutely right. For a book that lasts just one-hundred-and-thirty pages, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" lends itself to a remarkable number of alternate readings. It's a portrait of its marvelously eccentric title character and a commentary on the shortcomings of a "woman's education" and a critique of twentieth century totalitarianism and a meditation on art and its uses and a love-letter to shabby-genteel Edinburgh and a smutty, funny sex comedy all at once. However, I particularly enjoyed sensitive Spark's depiction of adolescence, a time when everyone can, and maybe should, be "known for something" and the world more or less revolves around gossip and social gamesmanship. As lighthearted as "Miss Brodie" seems, though, I admire Spark for presenting her readers with a character like Miss Jean Brodie. From a certain perspective, this constitutes an absolutely enormous risk. Miss Brodie, who rejects conventional morality, considers herself cultured and extraordinarily perceptive, and years for artistically-induced ecstasy, seems, at times, to be a cruel caricature of a certain kind of female reader. Like John Kennedy O'Toole, whose Ignatius J. Riley lampooned self-styled intellectuals, Spark might be seeking to challenge her readers with a cartoonishly distorted personification of their own worst intellectual habits. That she manages to pull this high-wire act off without once deviating from her perfectly pitched high-camp tone is nothing short of amazing. "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is highly recommended.read more
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