10 September 2007

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark

Recommendation: Go watch the play - after all it does involve young girls frolicking on stage

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This is the story of a school teacher in her prime. It is also the story of her students - the Brodie set. It is not a plot driven novel. It is the portrait of Jean Brodie and her girls. I actually quite enjoyed the non-sequential flow of the novel. Spark uses this approach to create her leading lady. Rather than sketching a story involving characters, she has sculpted a character around which a story solidifies and clings, much as clay solidifies and takes form as the sculptor turns the wheel.

English lesson for the day - this form of narrative technique is called prolepsis. The reader is aware of various details of the characters before they take place in the novel's real time. It comes from the greek for anticipation (ok, I had to look that one up!).

Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.

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