Muriel Spark: A Biographical and Critical Study

Muriel Spark: A Biographical and Critical Study

Muriel Spark: A Biographical and Critical Study

Muriel Spark: A Biographical and Critical Study

Excerpt

For those who favour paradox, a critic might be defined as a person with a more than ordinary faculty for misunderstanding and a more than ordinary trust in the workings of this faculty. Writing from my own experience as a critic, I should say this description was not wholly facetious.

I would like to declare, then, as a preface to my study that this small book on Muriel Spark is not intended as a biography, but as a memoir or reminiscence. If, by way of filling in my own picture of the author, I have given some dates, some facts, this does not mean that I intended to give all facts and dates available. My purpose was, indeed, quite other than this. A biography is a life-story: what I intended here was something in the nature of a medallion--a likeness copied from memory, a frankly subjective portrait.

The avoidance of the personal in contemporary critical writing may have not a little to do with its extraordinary diction. One gets the impression, sometimes, that the work results from the combination of a cardfiling index and a computer. Certainly, its anonymous style allows the critic to retire behind the massive ramparts of his machinery, one man and his choice carefully hidden by a formal assumption of objectivity.

It was Chamfort, I believe, who said that man had received the gift of language so that he might hide his thoughts from his fellows. Both as to lucidity and responsible commitment, this would apply to many of us critics.

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