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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 24 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181424
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Spark's most celebrated novel (Independent)

There is no question about the quality and distinctiveness of her writing, with its quirky concern with human nature, and its comedy (William Boyd)

A brilliant psychological figure (Observer) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Book Description

All four novels give evidence of one of the most original and unmistakable voices in contemporary fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
The boys, as they talked to the girls from Marcia Blaine School, stood on the far side of their bicycles holding the handlebars, which established a protective fence of bicycle between the sexes, and the impression that at any moment the boys were likely to be away. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Aug. 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I was twelve when I met Miss Jean Brodie for the first time. I have encountered her many times since, on the page and on the stage, but our introduction has stuck in my mind. It was one of those 'Sunday Tea-Time' series at which British television once excelled. With hindsight, I realise that Muriel Spark's novel was not the sort of fiction that could be cut into convenient slices, each one impressed with a cameo of one of the 'Brodie Set', to be consumed within a not too demanding forty minutes. Nevertheless, the series made an impact, not least because the rôle of Miss Brodie was played by Geraldine McEwan. Despite the inappropriate medium of a weekly drama series, she impressed viewers as the definitive Jean Brodie. Ms McEwan has essayed the part many times since then and never fails to impress her stamp and cut on Muriel Spark's Edinburgh schoolmistress.
Geraldine McEwan is the perfect choice of narrator for this unabridged audio edition of the novel. Believe me, an abridged version of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is not "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"! Muriel Spark, interviewed by Frank Kermode, once referred to 'vulgar chronology', contrasting her own method of telling a story with strict realist convention. Spark's preference for anachrony refines her tale of school life into a highly technical fusion of post-modernist form and religious theme tinged with great wit. It is this Sparkian technique, from which Ms McEwan draws out the smallest nuances, that forbids any cuts in the text.
Geraldine McEwan's reading of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" introduces the schoolmistress in 1936, surrounded by her notorious 'Brodie Set' of sixteen-year-old girls over whose lives and relationships she seeks almost divine ordinance.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By booksetc on 7 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Was inspired to read Miss Brodie - for the umpteenth time - by seeing the film again on television last week. The first time I read this book, I was about the same age as her pupils ... now you might kindly describe me as in my prime! (Like Miss B, I'm not quite sure how long prime lasts!)
This is a book I have enjoyed more each time I have read it. Spark's wonderful spare writing and dry observation (Whatever possessed you? said Miss B in a very Scottish way, as if Sandy had given away a pound of marmalade to an English duke ... )
Of course, she is a silly, preposterous, dangerous woman, but you know you would have wanted to be chosen as one of her girls. But this reading I grasped how her tragedy was rooted in World War I, that she was
part of that generation of vigorous post-war spinsters who espoused causes instead of men. How different her life would have been had Hugh, her first pure love, not died on Flanders field ...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I've recently read a few books which have been compared to this on because the subject matter is similar: the effect on the young and impressionable made by a charismatic, rather shady teacher. And rather found myself thinking `comparisons are odious' as the later books seemed variously overwritten or self-indulgent, or desperately trying to shock for shock's sake, heavy-handed or crude.

it was an absolute delight to return for a re-read to the book those others were compared to - Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

This of course was turned into a film with Dame Maggie Smith as Miss Brodie, but I remember little about the film which I'm pretty sure pops up on TV from time to time, other than Dame Maggie, yet re-reading the book my memories were strong.

What I particularly appreciate is Spark's economy. Books often seem to be getting longer and longer, often for no good reason, and I find myself longing for someone to have slashed and cut writing which can seem indulgent.

This is almost novella, rather than novel, length, yet jam packed with telling image and incident. Spark's mind is glittering and incisive, her love of, and mastery of, language evident in each clean sentence: nothing fussy, nothing fudgy, a sense of an author who can weigh and balance her sentences almost as if they had a precise poetical form which needed to be adhered to. A sense of discipline and craft to counterpoint fine imagination and dark wit.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Aug. 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Muriel Spark, interviewed by Frank Kermode, once referred to 'vulgar chronology', contrasting her own narrative techniques with strict realist convention. It is Spark's preference for anachrony that refines this story of school life into a highly technical fusion of post-modernist form and religious theme tinged with great wit.
"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" introduces the Edinburgh schoolmistress in 1936, surrounded by her notorious 'Brodie Set' of sixteen-year-old girls over whose lives and relationships she seeks almost divine ordinance. A few pages on, the narrative shifts backwards to 1930, showing the reader a small cameo of the Miss Brodie and her class of impressionable girls of ten. This initial anachrony is a common enough technique. However, as we advance through the narrative all the way to 1939 when the 'Brodie Set' are young women of eighteen or nineteen, their schooldays behind them, Spark's skill becomes increasingly apparent. Her sequence of fourteen forward glances and fourteen backward looks builds into a subtle composition of the 'Brodie Set' in childhood, adolescence, and adult life.
Spark writes a cool, calm, and collected narrative in which prolepses never render the text predictable but stage subtle surprises as we move beyond the main story of 1930 to '39 to shift back and forth across a time-span of three decades. Early in the novel, we meet a middle-aged, comfortably married Eunice sharing childhood memories with her husband and planning to visit the grave of her one-time schoolmistress. This extraordinary narrative movement, shuttling the reader forward in order to look back, hints at the style of Miss Brodie's impact. The memento mori is to be combined with the Edinburgh Festival.
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