Muriel Spark

Spark, Dame Muriel

Dame Muriel Spark, 1918–2006, Scottish novelist, b. Muriel Sarah Camberg. She lived in Edinburgh, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), London, New York, and Rome, and spent her last years in Tuscany. Spark's typically short, spare, and witty novels expose the pretensions, hypocrisies, and petty foibles of her characters with merciless satire and cool detachment. Her Roman Catholicism (she converted in 1954) informs her acute moral vision and underlies her interest in revealing the dark, terrifying, evil, and unexplainable side of banal human experience. Spark's 22 novels include The Comforters (1957), Memento Mori (1958), The Bachelors (1960), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), The Mandelbaum Gate (1965), The Driver's Seat (1970), The Abbess of Crewe (1974), The Takeover (1976), Loitering with Intent (1981), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), Reality and Dreams (1997), Aiding and Abetting (2001), and The Finishing School (2004). Her short novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) became an acclaimed stage, film, and television production; its success made Spark famous and wealthy. Her poems and short stories are compiled in Collected Poems I (1967), Collected Stories I (1968), and Open to the Public: New and Collected Stories (1997, rev. ed. 2001). Many of her essays, written 1950–2003, were collected in The Informed Air (2014). She also wrote critical studies of Mary Shelley (1951) and John Masefield (1953) and a biography of Emily Brontë (1953). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.

See her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1993); critical biography by B. Cheyette (2001), biography by M. Stannard (2010); studies by D. Stanford (1963), K. Malkoff (1968), P. Stubbs, ed. (1973), R. Whittaker (1982), A. Bold, ed. (1986), D. Walker (1988), R. S. Edgecombe (1990), N. Page (1990), J. L. Randisi (1991), J. Hynes, ed. (1992), J. Sproxton (1992), M. Pearlman (1996), F. E. Apostolou (2001), M. McQuillan, ed. (2001), and M. Herman (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Muriel Spark: Selected full-text books and articles

The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark By Michael Gardiner; Willy Maley Edinburgh University Press, 2010
A History of Scottish Women's Writing By Douglas Gifford; Dorothy McMillan Edinburgh University Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 35 "The Remarkable Fictions of Muriel Spark"
The Scottish Novel since the Seventies: New Visions, Old Dreams By Gavin Wallace; Randall Stevenson Edinburgh University Press, 1993
Librarian's tip: Chap. Three "The Deliberate Cunning of Muriel Spark"
Comedy and the Woman Writer: Woolf, Spark, and Feminism By Judy Little University of Nebraska Press, 1983
The Social Framework of Knowledge: Muriel Spark's 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.' By Whiteley, Patrick J Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 29, No. 4, December 1996
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
"The Latter End of Job": The Gift of Narrative in Muriel Spark's the Only Problem and the Comforters By Christensen, Bryce Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Vol. 54, No. 2, Winter 2002
Contemporary British Novelists By Charles Shapiro Southern Illinois University Press, 1965
Librarian's tip: "Muriel Spark: The Surrealist Jane Austen" begins on p. 125
Contours of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Eighth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts By Michele K. Langford Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian's tip: "The Element of the Fantastic and the Artist Figure in the Novels of Muriel Spark" begins on p. 149
Muriel Spark By Heptonstall, Geoffrey Contemporary Review, Vol. 269, No. 1569, October 1996
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