Saturday, June 2, 2012

Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark (1 February 1918 – 13 April 2006)[1] was an award-winning Scottish novelist. Her many novels include Memento Mori (1959), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), and A Far Cry From Kensington (1988).

From the transcript of an interview Spark did with the BBC:

I want to talk about the emphasis I think you've always put on experience and the search for experience and the need to have experience. I mean, you left Edinburgh because you wanted different experience, didn't you?

I left Edinburgh to get married. I went to Africa, where my fiancée was already in Zimbabwe - it was then Southern Rhodesia . And I went there really to get married... and also I had the happy prospect of not having to do housework, I was told. And really I often wonder if that was the only thing, because when I got there it wasn't long before I didn't like my husband. However, I had to stay there for quite a time because war broke out.

But were you looking for experience? I mean, somewhere else you've said that actually the reason you got married to your husband was that you wanted sex.


Now, that's a... God knows that's a kind of experience.

Yes, the only way a girl could - a respectable girl - could have sex, in those days.

But were you also looking for something which wasn't Edinburgh life, something which brought you in touch with the world outside?

Oh yes. I wanted... I wanted to go abroad in any case. I would have gone to Paris , New York . I would have gone there if I hadn't gone to Southern Rhodesia, to Africa . I didn't intend to stay there.

But is the search for experience something that's been a constant theme in your life? The need to have things that you've lived through?

Yes I've always looked for experience when I've got bored or anything, in any situation. I've very often had to put up with a lot of boredom, for jobs and things like that. But I've found more and more as time goes on that experience comes to me... If I want... If I have an idea and want to experience something connected with it, it somehow happens - it's like a magnet. One is...[read on, or listen to the interview]
Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is one of Ian Rankin's best books and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best teachers in literature. The Ballad of Peckham Rye is on Mullan's list of ten of the best devils in literature, and The Abbess of Crewe is one of Mullan's ten best nuns in literature. Memento Mori is one of Paul Bailey's top ten stories of old age. The Girls of Slender Means is one of Simon Doonan's five best books about fashion.

--Marshal Zeringue