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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) by Muriel Spark


prime of miss jean brodie
Maggie Smith played Miss Jean Brodie in the movie version of the book
Book Review
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
 by Muriel Spark

   By the end of 1960, the modern day cultural industrial complex was in full swing.  Manifestations of the mature cultural industrial complex include the then increasingly common experience of taking a work in one medium (book) and turning it into another medium (movie, television, play.)  Another manifestation of the mature cultural industrial complex was the transfer of works from one geographic market to another.  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was the kind of transatlantic hit that places it in many "top 100 novels of all time" list.  It was initially published in the New Yorker, then brought out as a book, then made into a film starring Maggie Smith.

   The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie features a light touch that masks the darkness that lurks at the center.  After 50 pages, you might think you were reading a Scottish version of Madeline, the children's book about the French school girl, but by the end, it is clear that The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a very adult book.  Spark uses the narrative tricks pioneered by the modernists, she jumps back and forth across time and between the perspectives of multiple narrators who hide various facts from the reader.






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