To read Spark is always to read about reading.
July 1, 2014 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Describing Dame Muriel Spark's oeuvre as "a body of work singular in its violence, formal inventiveness, and scorching opening lines," Parul Sehgal's What Muriel Spark Saw examines the enduring appeal and the mystery of Spark's fiction, particularly the "monstruous" women: "What hash Spark's characters make of those eternal debates over unlikable characters or unlikable women."

Spark's books continue to attract readers: book bloggers held a Muriel Spark Reading Week in 2012, covering the entirety of her novels as well as much of her other work. Additionally, the National Library of Scotland has digitized selections of its extensive Muriel Spark archives, including a photograph of fourteen-year-old Muriel being crowned "Queen of Poetry."

Bonus: How to Tell If You Are in a Muriel Spark Novel.
posted by mixedmetaphors (6 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Metafilter: you can’t stop yourself from hissing “Pisseur de copie!”
posted by Naberius at 1:20 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

From the last link: "For anyone wishing to concentrate deeply on a writing project, you suggest acquiring a cat."

Now I have reserved a compilation of four Muriel Spark novels.
posted by squinty at 1:21 PM on July 1, 2014

Remember you must die.
posted by peripathetic at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2014

Love the bonus!
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:52 PM on July 1, 2014

Parul! One of the smartest and raddest people I know. That is all.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:20 PM on July 1, 2014

The article vastly under rates Spark's talent as a creator of moral allegories. The Abbess of Crewe, which recast Nixonian paranoia as convent politics, and Aiding and Abetting about the Lord Lucan case, make explicit, and sharp connections between public/private speech, access to coterie, and soft politics. I think one of the reasons why she will be on the edge of fashion, is this profoundly unsentimental coldness about these issues. Reading those two novels togehter, also makes the Focualdian point about the pyschoanalytic couch and the confessional booth much cleaner and more precise. What the critic here calls camp, is a heavily ritualized, almost liturgical process of working through texts--they are to be read like the parables of the Wise and Foolish virgin, or certain ghastly lives of the saints.
posted by PinkMoose at 5:44 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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