The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark

The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark

The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark

The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark

Synopsis

This Companion brings together an international 'Brodie set' of critics to trace the history, impact, reception and major themes of Spark's work, from her early poetry to her last novel. It encompasses the range of Spark's output, pursuing contextual lines of approach including biography, geography, gender, identity, nation and religion, and considering her legacy and continuing influence in the twenty-first century. Spark emerges here as a serious thinker on issues as diverse as the Welfare State, secularisation, decolonisation, and anti-psychiatry, and a writer whose work may be placed alongside Proust, Joyce, Nabokov, and Lessing. The critics collected here are mindful of how, although overwhelmingly known as a novelist, by the time of her first novel, The Comforters, in 1957, Spark already had a significant profile through poetry, biographical criticism, and literary journalism, as chair of the Poetry Society and editor of the Poetry Review, and as author or co-author of a number of scholarly studies of writers including Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, the Bröntes, Cardinal Newman, and John Masefield. Within a relatively modest space this Companion touches on the whole range of Spark's work and, in introducing the oeuvre thematically for those looking to explore this elegant and challenging author further, also sets the agenda for future Spark studies. Key Features
• A collection of original, specially commissioned chapters by leading experts in the field
• Covers the whole spectrum of Spark's work
• Addresses the key issues and themes in Spark's work without losing sight of the questions of form and content
• Provides original insights into the contexts of Spark's work as viewed through literary theory

Excerpt

The preface to this series’ initial tranche of volumes recognised that some literary canons can conceive of a single ‘Great Tradition’. The series editors consider that there is no such simple way of conceiving of Scottish literature’s variousness. This arises from a multilingual and multivalent culture. It also arises from a culture that includes authors who move for many different reasons beyond Scotland’s physical boundaries, sometimes to return, sometimes not. The late Iain Wright in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature talked of the Scots as a ‘semi-nomadic people’. Robert Louis Stevenson travelled in stages across the world; Muriel Spark settled in Southern Africa, England and then Italy; James Kelman, while remaining close to his roots in Glasgow, has spent important periods in the United States; Irvine Welsh has moved from Leith, in Edinburgh, to a series of domestic bases on both sides of the Atlantic.

All four writers at one time and in one way or another have been underappreciated. Stevenson – most notoriously perhaps – for a time was seen as simply an adventure writer for the young. Yet Stevenson is now recognised not for simplicity, but his wonderful complexity, an international writer whose admirers included Borges and Nabokov. Similarly, the other three have firm international reputations based on innovation, literary experiment and pushing formal boundaries. All have grown out of the rich interrelationship of English and Scots in the literature to which they contribute; they embody its intercultural richness, hybridity and cosmopolitan potential. Some of their subject matter is far-flung: often they are situated not only physically but also in literary terms well furth of Scotland. Yet they are all important contributors to Scottish literature, a fact which problematises in the most positive and creative way any easy notion of what Scottish literature is.

Ian Brown Thomas Owen Clancy . . .

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