Read domnioara brodie n floarea vrstei by Muriel Spark Online


At the staid Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, teacher extraordinaire Miss Jean Brodie is unmistakably, and outspokenly, in her prime. She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods and strives to bring out the best in each one of her students. Determined to instill in them independence, passion, and ambition, Miss Brodie advisAt the staid Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, teacher extraordinaire Miss Jean Brodie is unmistakably, and outspokenly, in her prime. She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods and strives to bring out the best in each one of her students. Determined to instill in them independence, passion, and ambition, Miss Brodie advises them, "Safety does not come first. Goodness, Truth, and Beauty come first. Follow me." And they do--but one of them will betray her....

Title : domnioara brodie n floarea vrstei
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ISBN : 6610313
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Number of Pages : 128 Pages
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domnioara brodie n floarea vrstei Reviews

  • Carol
    2019-04-30 13:39

    My initial reaction is, take Dead Poets Society, make the students young women instead of young men, replace the character played by Robin Williams with Iago and -poof! - you have this novel.

  • Dolors
    2019-05-21 08:17

    “The prime of Miss Jean Brodie” takes us back to the Edinburgh of the thirties. School mistress Miss Jean Brodie has selected six of her students to take as confidants. These girls will be the recipients of Miss Brodie’s unorthodox education that includes fictionalized versions of her love affairs magnified by her need to prolong her “prime” as much as possible. The resulting story revolves around the complex, humoristic and even a bit extravagant relationship that Miss Brodie develops with her girls, who grow up under the shadow of their teacher’s frustrations and contradictions: quite liberal in certain areas, Miss Brodie’s radical conservatism shows in her admiration for fascist ideals. Caught in the swirling emotions of her overly dramatized romances, Miss Brodie underestimates the powerful influence she has over the lives of these impressionable young women that will lead one of them to betray her trust.Besides the not so original plot, what resulted more fascinating to me is the technique through which Muriel Spark unfolds the personalities and the outcome of the characters. Many of the transcendental events are revealed in flash forwards that recur in a pattern of descriptive attributes of the already adult women, so the reader knows from the beginning what the future will have in store for the Brodie set: where will Rose’s magnetic sexuality lead her? Or Mary Macgregor’s clumsiness? Or Jenny’s natural beauty?Nevertheless, the life experiences of these girls are irrelevant to the escalating dramatic tension of the narrative, where a somewhat cruel humor takes the stage and the eccentricity of Miss Brodie, whose emotions remain hidden from the reader and are only glimpsed through the girls’ perspectives, boosts to create a memorably ignoble character whose passion for life exceeds her manipulative nature. In the end, Miss Brodie’s blessing turns into her curse: she is condemned to live her life through her young surrogates and loses control of her own destiny.Quite a peculiar little book. Sharp, incisive and vibrant, it can easily deceive because of its apparent lightness and slightly comical undertone, but the somewhat veiled, subversive facet of Spark’s artistry won’t leave any reader indifferent, for Miss Brodie’s dilemmas and dirty secrets are, after all, our own.

  • Samadrita
    2019-04-27 14:28

    Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is a name possibly not known or cared for beyond the frontiers of India. At the tender age of 17 this man of Anglo-Indian descent, possessing a sharp intellect and an even sharper tongue, was already a Professor of English Literature and History, busy influencing a group of eager, well-bred young men hailing from affluent Bengali families in Calcutta. He became a leading figure in the age of socio-cultural reform movements in Bengal in the dawn of the 19th century through his dissemination of Western philosophical and scientific ideas at a time when our society was stagnating in a cesspool of ignorance and blind prejudices. And his close-knit group of brilliant young students of the Hindu College who were referred to by the smart moniker of 'Derozians', much in the same manner of the ill-famed 'Brodie set' of TPOMJB, were viewed with as much suspicion as unacknowledged respect. But following the pattern of reception of new ideas which are regarded 'radical' and therefore dangerously subversive in their times, Derozio was expelled from the Hindu College and this in turn applied an abrupt brake on the Young Bengal movement. As much as my teenage self had looked upon the Derozio name and his legacy with a kind of starry-eyed deference, post-acquaintance with a fictional educator as sociopathic and ambiguous as Miss Jean Brodie, I am forced to view this whole idea of an inspirational teacher weaning a student away from conventional methods of learning with utmost skepticism. No I do not intend to overlook Derozio's small but significant contribution to the collective betterment of our society of the times which in turn greatly aided the nationalist movement later on. But maybe, it will be wise to probe deeper for the unadulterated truth rather than be so guilelessly accepting. I am sure both Muriel Spark and Derozio himself would have approved.Young, impressionable minds being shaped according to someone else's personal standards of nauseating elitism and if one is unlucky enough to fall under the spell of some conniving Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, being sucked right into a sinister trap. What a slippery slope this is! This setting about to correct the course undertaken by a young learner under the facade of challenging conformity, with a perverse sense of authoritarian entitlement. 'I know better than you, therefore you must follow my instructions.' In the way of Miss Jean Brodie's attempts at manipulating adolescent girls into competing with each other to be made a part of her venerated 'crème de la crème', people of insidious intent devise ways of propagating some attractive piece of ideology with confident pronouncements of it being the 'path of righteousness' and all that familiar drivel. Which is why I now realize how treacherous traversing this distance between not knowing and knowing a little better is - there's no way to fill up the vacuum of ignorance other than with information in any form that is available nearby and you better hope that pedagogical influence of the likes of the magnetic Miss Jean Brodies of the world does not hold free reign in the vicinity at the time."Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life."It's been a while since something quite as innocuous sounding as the above claim has left me feeling so deeply unsettled.

  • Lizzy
    2019-05-11 09:19

    I know I’ve had this happen to me before, be surprised by a book. Let me explain. As I started reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, I imagine I would like it. Yes, I did. However, as I finished Muriel Spark’s novel my sentiments were much stronger. I knew that I had to read it again sometime soon. That has happened to me before, and don’t get me wrong, there have been many books that had the same impact on me. Like The Lover, Madame Bovary and Atonement, just to mention three of my favorite books. However, I just did not expect to feel it so strongly here.There is a reason for that. This is a book about our perceptions of ourselves and of the people around us, and it is flawlessly done. Spark’s narrative is crisply and wryly witty, subtly ironic in its tone. "Would that I had been given charge of you girls when you were seven. I sometimes fear it’s too late, now. If you had been mine when you were seven you would have been the crème de la crème. Sandy, come and read some stanzas and let us hear your vowel sounds.”It's a fast and fun read, very scintillating and brilliantly structured. Spark has a mastery over her material, which few writers that I know have. She moves from time frame to time frame or from reality to imaginative fantasy, frequently without any transition.The plot concerns the unconventional schoolteacher, Miss Jean Brodie, and tells how she seeks to influence a chosen group of schoolgirls - the so-called 'Brodie Set'. They are introduced to us as six pre-adolescent girls and are charming but flawed. Their fates are something that you end caring for deeply.When Spark introduces one of her set, we are first exposed to her style:Back and forth along the corridors ran Mary Macgregor, through the thickening smoke. She ran one way; then, turning, the other way; and at either end the blast furnace of the fire met her. She heard no screams, for the roar of the fire drowned the screams, she gave no scream, for the smoke was choking her. [...] But at the beginning of the nineteen-thirties, when Mary Macgregor was ten, there she was sitting blankly among Miss Brodie’s pupils. “Who has spilled ink on the floor – was it you, Mary?”As she plays with her narrative, going forward and backward in time, and going into the fanciful daydreams of the girls – particularly in the figure of Miss Brodie’s most promising student, Sandy – the story reads so easily that it could delude the reader to think it was effortlessly done. This is one of the few books I've read where it seems entirely blatant that the author is in complete control of every aspect of her narrative. She writes with a richness that injects life into her work. The author is somehow able to pack a vast number of well-cultivated characters and expand into their lives and dreams into this 150-page book. This seems to be the perfect description of Miss Jean Brodie:She was not in any doubt, she let everyone know she was in no doubt, that God was on her side whatever her course, and so she experienced no difficulty or sense of hypocrisy in worship while at the same time she went to bed with the singing master. Just as an excessive sense of guilt can drive people to excessive action, so was Miss Brodie driven to it by an excessive lack of guilt.Much of the novel is relayed through the eyes of Sandy, who becomes a confidante of the teacher. Miss Brodie virtually wages war on the school; as the beleaguered headmistress, Miss Mackay attempts to reign in her disturbing influence on the girls and find a way to force the teacher to resign. It is true that Miss Brodie tends to tell the girls about her ideas and love affairs, rather than drilling them with their lessons, but they are still her 'creme de la creme'. “You know,” Sandy said, “these are supposed to be the happiest days of our lives.”“Yes, they are always saying that,” Jenny said. “They say, make the most of your schooldays because you never know what lies ahead of you.”“Miss Brodie says prime is best,” Sandy said.“Yes, but she never got married like our mothers and fathers.”“They don’t have primes,” said Sandy.“They have sexual intercourse,” Jenny said.For me, the book is about more than just a bunch of schoolgirls growing up. It's about passion, and friendship, superficial and otherwise, and the disappointment of seeing your idols as mere human beings with their constant need to belong that is such a normal feeling in us all. Despite all critic that we can lay at Miss Brodie for her meddling with her pupils, there is no doubt that they idolized her and enjoyed being in her care:Mary MacGregor, although she lived into her twenty-fourth year, never quite realised that Jean Brodie’s confidences were not shared with the rest of the staff and that her love-story was given out only to the pupils. […] On one occasion of real misery – when her first and last boy friend, a corporal whom she had known for two weeks, deserted her by failing to turn up at an appointed place and failing to come near her again – she thought back to see if she had ever been happy in her life; it occurred to her then that the first years with Miss Brodie, sitting listening to all those stories and opinions which had nothing to do with the ordinary world, had been the happiest time of her life.What delighted me was Spark's use of irony, humor, and finely controlled development. The author shines at character sketches, not only of Miss Brodie and her set, but also gives us considerable portraits of the sexy one armed art teacher, the shy music teacher, and even the limited but funny and rather inept and awkward headmistress. Spark catches accurately the malleable, romantic, changing perceptions of her supposedly sheltered girls as they grow up.Brodie's is a tight-knit group, but, inevitably, one of her charges begins to see the dangers of Brodie's self-centered agenda, ending up betraying her. In the narrative, we read how Miss Brodie defines her pupils, Sandy, she calls insightful. Others are regarded as knowledgeable about sex or even stupid. Thus, we start to see how the teacher becomes a despot. We know for a fact that mentors, as any human being, are not always what they seem. Miss Brodie seems herself to reveal aspects of adolescent rebellion. And she revels in her influence, while her protégés are forced to mature too quickly. Miss Brodie admits openly how the admiration of her impressionable set is important to her:“Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.”Miss Brodie in her prime becomes an idealized and nurturing teacher for certain selected students. She repeatedly tells the girls their destinies as she sees them (and not always nicely); she goes to the extreme of encouraging one of them to have an affair with a married man, exactly the art teacher whom Miss Brodie seems to love."It was plain that Miss Brodie wanted Rose with her instinct to start preparing to be Teddy Lloyd’s lover and Sandy with her insight to act as an informant on the affair. It was to this end that Rose and Sandy had been chosen as the crème de la crème. There was a whiff of sulphur about the idea which fascinated Sandy in her present mind. After all, it was only an idea. And there was no pressing hurry in the matter, for Miss Brodie liked to take her leisure over the unfolding of her plans, most of the joy deriving from the preparation, […]"At the same time, her humanity and flaws are all too clear - she idealizes Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini. The novel is set in the cultural backdrop of 1930's Edinburgh, and its puritanical environment. The wider background also appears in the Spanish civil war and the rise of fascism, which Miss Brodie fiercely and naively admires. However, this has to be viewed in its historical context, since fascist sympathies were fairly common in Britain before the war.The fascisti are very present for the Brodie set:"It occured to Sandy [...] that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie's fascisti, not to the naked eye, marching along, but all knit together for her need and in another way, marching along. That was all right, but it seemed, too, that Miss Brodie's disapproval of the Girl Guides had jealousy in it, there was an inconsistency, a fault. Perhaps the Guides were too much a rival fascisti, and Miss Brodie could not bear it. Sandy thought she might see about joining the Brownies. Then the group-fright seized her again, and it was necessary to put the idea aside, because she loved Miss Brodie."Spark's vivid characterizations becomes an incantation-like repetition of certain phrases like 'creme de la creme' or 'in my prime'. Despite the fact that Miss Brodie does not make up for a good role model or is far from being the ideal mentor for young girls, I could not help but be enthralled by her. And her imperfections are blatant. However, we can recognize several people we know in Miss Brodie. Starting with her disregard and even disrespect for others, who can say never to have sinned so? Here we have to be honest and include ourselves since everybody shares a little of Miss Brodie’s idiosyncrasies. For she is strong-willed and determined, intelligent and independent, and yet she is vulnerable because she wants so desperately to be revered by ‘her girls’ and be loved by the men in her otherwise lonely life.The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a book that deserves to be read by everyone. Highly recommended!_____

  • StevenGodin
    2019-05-07 08:21

    My humble apologies must go to Muriel Spark, who not only did I assume was an American but also still in the land of the living (died 2006), until I discovered she turned out to be a bonny wee lass from Scotland (so much for my literary knowledge). One thing I am definitely sure of though, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' is definitively British through and through.Short and bittersweet, this features a quite sublimely constructed narrative full of wit and brevity where the story focuses on the comic and ultimately tragic schoolmistress Jean Brodie (partly based on Spark’s own teacher at her Edinburgh school), and her set of six wonderfully distinctive girls (Monica, Sandy, Rose, Mary, Jenny, and Eunice) getting the most out of her prime years. At first, her ideas about beauty and goodness, her mysterious glamour and charm will dazzle and seduce her girls – “the crème de la crème” – at the Marcia Blaine School, but in the end the same gifts will go on to cause her untimely downfall. Deftly laid out we flash backwards and forwards, to and from the 1930s, where education was a million miles away from the overly confident tech-savvy kids of today, one thing that remains the same though, girls will be girls. There's the boisterous gossip on romance and sex, falling in and out with friends, and dreaming of a bright future, whatever that may hold.There is also a great enemy lying in wait, the moody headmistress Miss Mackay, who believes not only are the girls being manipulated by Jean Brodie, but she is engaged in sex with the art teacher, Teddy Lloyd, with whom Miss Brodie is hopelessly in love. Could there have be a betrayal on behalf of one of her girls?. She would take leave for Austria and Germany for a time, only to return consumed by fascism from mainland Europe prior to The Second World War. “Give me a girl at an impressionable age,” she boasts, “and she is mine for life.” Eventually that prediction will be fulfilled in the saddest way imaginable.Spark turns her novel into a deep questioning of authorial control and limit, there is a god-like power of omniscience in Jean Brodie that made her a household name in terms of postwar fictional characters, Spark forces us to become Brodie's pupils as in the course of the novel we never leave the school to go home, alone, with Miss Brodie. We surmise that there is something unfulfilled and even desperate about her, but the novelist refuses us access to her interior. Brodie talks a great deal about her prime, but we don't witness it, and the nasty suspicion falls that perhaps to talk so much about one's prime is by definition no longer to be in it. But this is just as much a playground ballad of Brodie's girls as it is a study of Brodie, each one has their own space within the novel, you do get acquainted and comfy with them, although it's Sandy who plays more of an important role.On reflection this caught me completely off guard, I wasn't expecting it to hold my attention the way it did, but it worked, predominantly down to Spark's stupendous narrative that captured the old-school ways and that quintessential relationship between teacher and pupils. 4/5

  • Barry Pierce
    2019-05-04 07:41

    "Who is the greatest Italian painter?""Leonardo da Vinci, Miss Brodie.""That is incorrect. The answer is Giotto, he is my favourite."Jean Brodie. Oh Miss Jean Brodie. She may be one of my new favourite heroines in literature. I mean she's like up there with Emma Bovary from Madame Bovary, she's that good. I think there were other characters in this novel? Idk. I don't care. It's all about Jean. I love Jean. Jean. Jean. Hmmm I'm starting to think I liked her character more than the book itself. Oh well. I'd recommend this just so you can read probably one of the greatest characters in 20th Century fiction.

  • Aubrey
    2019-05-07 11:33

    4.5/5Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.It wasn't until recently that I became aware of how teachers had viewed me during my high school years. To be frank, I was surprised that they had acknowledged me at all, let alone discussed me amongst themselves. This discussion extended out from time to time to parents associated with the school, one of whom is now a very good friend of mine and my reason for knowing about this at all. I was liked, apparently, for being a quiet and studious little girl, likely noticed despite said quietness due to being the lone white face in many of the advanced classes but that, of course, is only suspicion. In those days I excelled in the art of keeping myself to my self, especially in regards to those keepers of test scores and other belovedly loathed idols of my youth, so I had no inkling of this overarching benevolent gaze, to the point of being flabbergasted in senior year at finding many an enthusiastic response to my request for recommendation letters. Who knew.Of course, this lack of major interaction between my younger self and academic personas was a double edged sword. Perhaps a little more insistence from one of my favorite English teachers would have saved me years of mistaken pursuit of a Bioengineering degree, putting me via influential measures on my current path and avoiding all that fumbling around with personal choice. However, when looking at a book like this, I see the time I spent finding myself as well worth the cost of years and money and all that jazz. My distrust for authority figures may be on the paranoid side, but my questioning of everyone and everything alongside painstakingly gained self-worth has, is, and will continue to serve me better than any other tool at my disposal.Thus, I see this Miss Jean Brodie as a seductive force that would have easily bowled me over in my younger days. Those times are long past, and her sway has been reduced by time to a portion of her power, a slogan in essence of that aesthetically minded mob machination of Fascism so well known to history. For every appealing remark in the realm of Literature and the Arts, there's the blind assuming in regards to Science, Math, Politics, Religion, etc. There's also that discombobulated aura of feminism of the hypocritical sort, something I wouldn't have known to look for in my youth and a key factor of why I have never had the desire to return to my childhood mentality.The directness with which the author presents this miniature treatise on pedagogy never struck me as obtuse, as there's quite a bit more going on within the boundaries of this slim, sharp-shooting novel. I've heard of Spark excelling in the microenvironmental scope, and she doesn't fail in my first introduction to her fiction. The pointed way she captures that muddled feeling of school, that of one's time being filled with so much cramming of information while in reality knowing little of anything important, is especially impressive. I do like my literature that takes childhood seriously, and while this is no The Instructions, there's a cynical naïvety to it that I well recognize.While I would better remember and hold my school years in more esteem had I encountered an incarnation of Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, I spend enough time as it is in deconstructing all that I thought I knew in those days of desks and paper and the persistent feeling of an invisible cage, otherwise known as bits and pieces solipsism. Looking at how the woman in her prime ended up, rattling on the same rails of so many years as little more than a broken tape recorder, I'd say I got the greener side for my own satisfaction of sensibilities. Besides, all that vicarious chess game living with a side of psychosomatic sexuality? Creepy.

  • Sidharth Vardhan
    2019-05-09 06:33

    “It occurred to Sandy, there at the end of the Middle Meadow Walk, that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie's fascisti, not to the naked eye, marching along, but all knit together for her need and in another way, marching along. That was all right, but it seemed, too, that Miss Brodie's disapproval of the Girl Guides had jealousy in it, there was an inconsistency, a fault. Perhaps the Guides were too much a rival fascisti, and Miss Brodie could not bear it.”One commonly featuring theme with all the governments of last century that have gone wrong (whether they were fascists, ultra-nationalists, communalists, communist, anti-communists) is that they all paid special focus on education of children. And it is only to be expected, children are highly impressionable and, a simple application of Butterfly effect or any of psychological theories (except Humanism), shows what an effect a small change early on can have on one’s life – those early stages are the perfect opportunity for anyone wanting to play God:“Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.” And Fascism basically means allowing one man to play God. But this book is not about politics, not unless you see it as an allegory. It is about education.And so, the questions arises, what should children be taught and who should teach them? Ideally, I dare say that they should be taught how to live a life before they are taught how to earn a living – which might include teaching them about self-discovery, sex-education and how to be good parents, how not to let yourself be influenced by propaganda, how to check if you are prejudiced against some section of society, a habit of putting oneself in other’s shoes etc. The list is too long and as you can see literature can help with several of them. A well-written novel with racism or sexual violence, for example, can be used to teach how these tendencies work in society; how to put oneself in victim’s shoes, clothes and skin; and how one must be guard oneself in being cause of and suffering from such things. What we really do though, is we play defensive, and don’t want anything too 'dangerous’ for children's stupid heads to be a part of their education. And so anything even remotely out of Disney world is excised out of books.And what about teachers? We can’t censor teachers but we have an ideal for them, which they must follow. Now, in my mind, the image of this ideal teacher is that of a sentinel of discipline and traditions, yearning for good old times - a strict and, if I may dare use the word, sexless old thing with no sense of humor … you remember prof McGonagall? Exactly. Now you can’t expect every teacher to be an old woman, and so, what we do is we socialize teachers to act in that way while their students are observing them. And, so, you see in school/college corridors, young teachers pretending to be angry at a behavior in their students which they had enjoyed only a few years ago or might still enact back home (since most of them are terrible actors, I don’t know how come most students don’t see through them, I for one was never fooled. Thanks!), scorning at the very jokes they might themselves find funny, and asking students to follow rules they themselves see injustice in (In this one scene in the third book, McGonagall refuse to sign Harry’s permission to visit the Hogsmeade, though she felt sorry since he was the only in. whole class not allowed to, for no mistake of his). Now Miss Jean Brodie is no fan of this McGonagallism school of play-acting, she is a rebel (the only good thing about her) and she does seem to believe in teaching children about lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, her syllabus is highly dependent on her whims and she happens to be in her prime. “One’s prime is elusive. You little girls, when you grow up, must be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur. You must then live it to the full.”And since she isn’t wearing McGonagall masks, the personal life of this narcissist woman directly affects her students. She loses her initial idealism in a desperate effort to enjoy her life and ends up using her girls as pawns, causing a permanent damage in life of at least one, Sandy. You may make sure that the person teaching isn’t racist, communalist or have some undesirable political philosophy, but they will have much going in their personal life. And unless the teachers are maintaining so-called ‘respectable’ distances, you can’t save a student from their personal life. Now this might serve for the meek to want to argue in favor of sticking to safety of old-fashioned McGonagallism, but I don’t agree and my ex-career as class rebel and class-clown (obviously) has nothing to do with that.One of the best and most humorous books I have read this year.

  • Parthiban Sekar
    2019-04-23 14:24

    It is quite common in case of any successful person the frequent questions of his or her influences. Similarly, in case of any unpleasant individuals the question of his or her bringing-up, but with scorn. Such is the importance of influence over impressionable minds. And teachers play a vital role in causing a positive influence over their pupils.“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul.” This is the story of Miss Jean Brodie who claims to be "in her prime", through her so called experimental methods, teaches her set of close pupil-confidantes what she thinks as requisite for the lives of those little girls: Art, Traveling, Love, and Fascism. Little did the girls know the direction towards which they are being guided, when they are continuously instructed by Brodie to keep their heads up, up... Brodie proudly says : “Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.”"She (Brodie) thinks she is Providence, thought Sandy (one of Her girls), she thinks she is the God of Calvin."The notorious Brodie Set with shrewd wits, high coloured cheeks, logical educations, hearty spirits, private means, and Brodie as head, are often remarked for their wanton adventures and abnegation of "Team-Spirit" and any such thing which (Brodie believes) might uproot Individuality from the impressionable minds when Brodie, indifferent to criticism as crag, herself is physically involved with the masters of art and music till the intervention of chemistry mistress. When the girls go to high school, things start falling apart and their weekday-coexistence turns out to be weekend-visits which, in turn, becomes alternative get-togethers with much to speak about their recent artistic adventures and music lessons.Excessive sense of guilt drives people to excessive action. But Brodie with excessive lack of guilt, eventually comes to know that she has been betrayed by one of her girls in whom she confided her love affairs and her secret lovers. The rest of story goes about what happens to Brodie after her forceful expulsion from school and whether she finds the betrayer."What were the main influences of your school years? Were they literary or political or personal? Was it Calvinism?"Sandy: "There was a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime."

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    2019-05-09 10:18

    Miss Jean Brodie is a magnetic minor fascist -- which surprised me, knowing little about the book beforehand except that a.) it was made into a movie starring Maggie Smith and b.) that this cover is cute and also very twee.But what Spark does here is let the reader see with the eyes of the "Brodie set," of six distinctive girls who follow their teacher in and out of the classroom from their pre-adolescent through their teenage years. We move with Sandy, Rose, Jenny, Monica, Eunice, and Mary from the experience of the starry-eyed Miss Brodie who takes them to movies and art exhibitions when they are ten to the self-elected "spinster" past her prime who schemes that one of her set will inherit her sexual affair with a married teacher (this while the girl is only 15). As the girls -- especially Sandy -- come of age and gain clarity, slips of Miss Brodie's egomania, manipulations, and fascist leanings come out, all encased in the silly frivolity that charmed the girls when they were young. This progress of characters through hindsight is very cleverly done, a technique for any aspiring writer to admire. And the book is funny too. Especially when the characters are young girls, learning about sex. Sandy's mental response to her friend Jenny's ordeal with a flasher is one of the funniest things I've read in what seems like a long time. Spark's wit and the undercurrent of unpleasantness hidden beneath charm that so pleases me when it's found in female authors guarantees that I'll be looking for more of her work.

  • Paul
    2019-04-28 07:46

    4.5 stars rounded upThis is another one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years; seen the film several times. Having also read The Ballad of Peckham Rye recently and been impressed by Spark, I thought it was time to finally read this. It is brief, but very cleverly put together, employing a flash forward technique, so Spark reveals the plot and the eventual ending bit by bit and in a varied order. Spark also makes good use of some neat aphorisms; “I am in my prime”, you are the crème de la crème”. Miss Brodie is a primary school teacher of unorthodox method who takes certain pupils under her wing to influence them; they become her “set” and remain so, even after they leave her direct sphere of influence and start senior school. Miss Brodie reads them poetry, takes them to the theatre, points them away from Maths and Sciences and generally tries to direct their lives; identifying a “famous for” or notoriety for each of them. Early on we discover one of the six members of the set betrays Miss Brodie to her greatest enemy, the headmistress. About halfway we discover who, but the how is left to the very end. We follow the set from the end of primary school, through senior school and into glimpses of their later lives and sometimes deaths. Despite the fluid language Spark limits what she gives the reader about Miss Brodie; we are never alone with her; her presence is mediated by someone else; one of the set usually. Spark is playing with the nature of knowledge, epistemology; as a Catholic convert Spark would have known about that. Here we see nothing of Miss Brodie’s interior life. The character is based on a teacher who inspired Spark, but there are some twists here. Miss Brodie is a great fan of Mussolini; there is also an element of living through others and an edge of cruelty. Spark doesn’t provide us with particularly attractive characters and all the set have obvious flaws; as for the men ... Miss Brodie (who lost her fiancé in the war; we are in the early 1930s) is attractive to the Arts and Music masters and has a relationship with one of them; both are rather insipid. Interestingly the author dispenses judgements and fates with godlike omniscience and Spark is making Brodie behave in an authorial way to explore the limits of authorial power. It’s good stuff and Spark has been compared with Christine Brookes-Rose for this reason.The character of Sandy in the novel has been compared to Spark and she too moves to Catholicism. Given the events of the novel the name she has as a nun Sister Helena of the Transfiguration is an interesting choice given the novel’s consideration of knowledge and the nature of authorship. It’s a great tragic-comic novel with some nicely sinister undertones. As forward thinking as she appears to be Miss Brodie is also at heart conservative and the parallels between Miss Brodie and her girls and Miss Brodie’s fascist hero and his followers are interesting. Spark is a great novelist.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-05-10 07:27

    "I shall remain at this education factory where my duty lies. There needs must be a leaven in the lump. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. The gang who oppose me shall not succeed."- Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Published in 1961 and set in a Scottish girl's school in the pre-World War II period (1930s) when Fascism was favorable (among those in their Prime) and on the rise, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' tells the story of an unconventional teacher and her influence on a group or six girls (more probably, but the story focuses on six). It isn't original to say this, but it does read a bit like a female version of Dead Poet's Society (ht Carol), or perhaps A Separate Peace, but no not quite Lord of the Flies. Emotionally, the book resonates like Madame Bovary (ht Lizzy ). Perhaps, one of the reasons the book vibrated so strongly with me is one of the pupils of Miss Brodie in her Prime reminds me of how I imagine my wife was in her tweens (Sandy).A couple things sold me on this book. I loved its style and prose, and was enraptured by Miss Brodie with her unconventional, romantic, and desperate need to matter, to influence, to be something. As fallible as she is, and as amoral as methods (both in love and politics) become, there is something VERY human about her. The other character I loved was Sandy. Influenced by Miss Brodie, in her Prime, but just not in the way Miss Brodie intended, Sandy's romantic view of life mirrors in some ways Miss Brodie. But I loved the 10-year old Sandy with her wild fantasies about Alan Breck (see Kidnapped) or Mr. Rochester (see Jane EyreJane Eyre). Later her fantasy turns its full attention on Miss Brodie and her lovers. It is perfect.Anyway, I read this because my natural man tends to gravitate more towards books written by men (just the statistics of classical books would do this), so when I think about it, I try and read a book I would normally pass over. I'm glad I found the radical Miss Jean Brodie while I was in my prime.

  • Mohsin Maqbool
    2019-05-08 13:30

    Scottish novelist Muriel Spark.SCOTTISH writer Muriel Spark writes short novels or rather novellas, but they have far greater depth than novels that might be 500 pages. Many thick tomes are cluttered with unnecessary stuff; Miss Spark’s novels hardly have any because she is crisp and always to the point where her creative writing is concerned.Film still on 'Miss Brodie' book cover. Her bestseller, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was first published in 1962. Its protagonist Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher during the 1930s at a school for girls called Marcia Blaine High School. She never teaches from textbooks and has her own individual style of teaching. She always picks the crème de la crème from her class, which consists of six to seven girls, known as “the Brodie set”. The set of her present class comprises Margaret, Eunice, Sandy, Jenny, Rose and Mary.Each of the girls belonging to the Brodie set has special qualities. Besides, each wears her school hat in a different style. One might wear it tilted at the front while another might wear it tilted at the back; one might make a dent on it while another might curve it from the sides. Sometimes Miss Brodie takes her set out into the school lawn to teach them below the shade of a tree. She teaches them about love and art rather than hard facts. She might talk to them about Mussolini and his Fascists; what cream to use to cleanse their skin; describe to them about the interior decoration of the house of English author Alan Alexander Milne who became famous for writing Winnie the Pooh; teach them words like menarche or even tell them about her romantic life and the death of her lover during the Great War. However, she always warns them to keep their poetry books open just in case the headmistress happened to pass by or lie to her if she asked them as to what they were studying outside. There are days when Miss Brodie takes her set out for a walk or to the theatre or to a dance recital or to her home for tea.Class photograph of the Junior Class of James Gillespie's Girls' School in 1930. Can you spot Muriel Spark? Miss Brodie is slim and beautiful even in her 40s. She is deeply in love with the handsome art teacher called Mr Lloyd even though she knows that he is married. The latter too loves her immensely. Any portrait that he paints on closer inspection looks just like Miss Brodie.Once Margaret catches them kissing in the art classroom and quickly disappears before she can be spotted. When she tells the other girls belonging to the Brodie set, they think she is lying. She is questioned again and again by Sandy and then cross-questioned. The former sticks to her story. Soon after this Sandy and her best friend Jenny start visualising things about the couple. In fact, one weekend they go to a beach cave and write a fantasised romantic letter to Mr Lloyd from Miss Brodie. After completing it, they bury it in the sand.First edition cover. The headmistress on her part is always grilling the Brodie set; sometimes together and sometimes one by one, so as to learn about Miss Brodie’s sexual exploits or immorality. If she can bait one of the girls in revealing the truth, then she can have Miss Brodie expelled from the school. But will one of the set expose their teacher? Will one of them stab her in the back when she least expects it? Will one of them turn against her out of jealousy? References to classics like Kidnapped and Jane Eyre also turn up in the book from time to time. But if I tell you why, then I would be nothing but a spoilsport. The book has both its serious and comical moments. It is a flawless book which I highly recommend to anyone who loves reading about schools and the relationship between teachers and students.A poster of the film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1969). By the way, I saw the 1969 film based on the book in the late ’90s and loved it immensely. In fact, I watched it again when it was re-telecast on TV a week later. Maggie Smith had won the Best Actress Oscar in 1970 for her brilliant portrayal of Miss Jean Brodie. However, the film’s director, Ronald Neame, had changed the ending of the film which I loved more than that of the book."She turned to the blackboard and rubbed out with her duster the long division sum she always kept on the blackboard in case of intrusions from outside during any arithmetic period...." Maggie Smith as Jean Brodie in her Oscar-winning role.

  • Susan
    2019-05-21 09:31

    This is a deceptive novel, which contains a story of depth and scope despite it's short length, and which I have returned to many times. The plot concerns the unconventional schoolteacher, Miss Jean Brodie, who seeks to influence a chosen group of schoolgirls - the so called 'Brodie Set'. Much of the novel is relayed through the eyes of Sandy Stranger, who enters Miss Brodie's class in 1930, and becomes a confidante of the teacher.Miss Brodie virtually wages war on the school; as the embattled headmistress, Miss Mackay, attempts to reign in her disturbing influence on the girls and find a way to force her to resign. It is true that Miss Brodie tends to tell the girls about her ideas and love affairs, rather than drilling them in facts, but they are still the 'creme de la creme' and her belief is in, her version, of 'goodness, truth and beauty'. This is, in many ways, a disturbing read, as Sandy looks back on her life as a schoolgirl as one of the elite 'Brodie set' and muses on her ultimate betrayal...

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-05-15 08:16

    A slim, sparse and brittle novella, much like the slim, slight and jagged Miss Jean Brodie herself. Less of a teacher and more of a life coach, Miss Jean Brodie is to Morningside in the 1930s what Rachel Zoe was to Paris, Nicole, Misha et al in Beverly Hills in the noughties.The Brodie set is a group of archly self aware girls, all hand picked by the charming, erudite and broadly fascist Jean Brodie as her cultural mini-me’s. Socially acceptable sponges who will carry forth into the world the ideologies, etiquette and culture of the Brodie manifesto. Oh yes, She is legion, for they are many. This book is hard little gem; not a diamond but maybe some kind of overly large well cut cubic-ziconia . Brodie is an unlikeable but compelling character who has been elegantly sculpted by Muriel Spark to represent a wonderful but horrible thing - someone who knows how to wield power over the young mind in her care in the most precise way. Minds which she is responsible for sculpting and shaping and based on the description of these six girls, their minds were probably the equivalent of warm play-dough squished within an iron fist.

  • William1
    2019-04-28 11:45

    A sterling example of literary compression and the effective use of non-chronological narrative structure. A book that gets the reader involuntarily exclaiming aloud such is its brilliance, its self assurance, its high level of artistic attainment.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-21 09:30 Creme de la Creme: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is Muriel Spark's best known and best loved novel - the justly enduring story of an Edinburgh school teacher who eschews the normal curriculum in favour of lessons on the Italian Renaissance painters, on Mussolini and with stories of her own love life. As she seeks to mould her 'set' of girls 'of an impressionable age', into the 'crème de la crème', and as her love life becomes complicated by affections for, and from, the art and the singing masters, she identifies two girls, one of 'instinct' and one of 'insight', in whom her ambitions will chiefly lie. But despite her own unassailable convictions, life does not always work out as planned and amongst her own set there will be those who begin to question her authority and her purpose.A writer with a keen eye, a biting wit and a pithy sense of the comic, Muriel Spark created in Jean Brodie a character who remains as vivid and recognisable as she was in 1963, the year the book was published. Charismatic, unfettered by school boundaries, literal or metaphorical, she is the teacher who steps beyond the bounds of prescriptive education to the true sense of the word - opening the eyes of her girls to a wider world. Spark also captures the city of Edinburgh, a character in itself, and of a time - those years in the thirties when, denied conventional marriage, war-bereaved women sought other paths to fulfilment.Sparkling, funny, fresh and tragic, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie fully deserves its place in the canon of twentieth century literature. Today: there's a plot afoot - again - to unseat Miss Brodie.2: As Miss Brodie's love becomes complicated by affections for and from the art and the singing masters, she identifies two girls, one of 'instinct' and one of 'insight', in whom her ambitions will chiefly lie. But despite her own unassailable convictions, life does not always work out as planned and amongst her own set there will be those who begin to question her authority. 3: As she seeks to mould her 'set' of girls of 'an impressionable age', into the 'crème de la crème', and as her love life becomes complicated by affections for, and from, the art and the singing masters, she identifies two girls, one of 'instinct' and one of 'insight', in whom her ambitions will chiefly lie. But despite her own unassailable convictions, life does not always work out as planned and amongst her own set there will be those who begin to question her authority and purpose.

  • Kate
    2019-05-02 14:32

    Hit the snooze button. Because you won't wanna wake up early to finish this trite piece of over-celebrated frump. Miss Jean Brodie is the kind of co-dependent teacher that smart kids steer clear of -- except here she attracts otherwise likable school girls and prods them along this tiresome plot like dying heifers. Spark's flat characters repeat the same dumb one-liners until you wonder how anyone ever thought this author was clever. One student dies in a fire. Another joins a nunnery. But when compared to carrying on as a character in this book, those both seem like pretty attractive options to me. But perhaps this book did teach me something valuable about myself -- there is a limit to what I will tolerate in the name of culture, classics, and feminism. This book lies somewhere far beyond.

  • Nigeyb
    2019-05-04 10:19

    What a curious book. In terms of style, Muriel Spark's non-sequential narrative and extensive use of prolepsis, is unusual, and yet works well as Muriel Spark repeats the same themes and phrases. The book is also very simple to read and well written. It was refreshing to read about such a free thinking, idiosyncratic and rebellious woman working in a deeply traditional environment in an era where great store was still placed on conduct in the bourgeois world of a girls' school in the 1930s. Miss Brodie is unconventional and daring. Instead of following the curriculum of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, she treats her pupils as adults and discusses all manner of subjects which include her admiration for the emerging fascist leaders in Italy and Germany, her personal history, and her emotional life. Miss Brodie also invites her pupils to her home, and the home of other teachers, and takes them to the theatre and other outings. Whilst initially appearing to have the welfare of her special students at heart, Miss Brodie's primary motivation appears to be to control and manipulate her pupils, and ultimately this is a disturbing portrait of a self-obsessed and psychologically disturbed teacher. This is the brilliance of the book, behind the rebellious and unorthodox teaching style which is cloaked in the benign appearance of taking special care of a small coterie of hand picked pupils, lies a monster. The revelations which emerge throughout the book would create a tabloid newspaper feeding frenzy if they came to light in the modern era. Not only does Miss Brodie appear to want to force her special pupils - The Brodie Set - to fulfil a destiny she has predetermined, she also has cast each girl into a tightly defined character. Muriel Spark constantly repeats these characteristics throughout the story, almost as if, like Miss Brodie, if she repeats them often enough they will become self-fulfilling. There are also other more amusing stylistic motifs that are frequently employed by Miss Brodie, for example, "you are the crème de la crème", and "I am in my prime". These help the reader to see through the Brodie character and hint at her self-delusion. Whilst the book's primary focus is Miss Brodie we find out very little about her motivation. I think it's to Muriel Spark's credit that she leaves the reader to draw his or her own conclusions, and yet I would be very interested to know the extent to which Muriel Spark is sympathetic to her literary creation. Ultimately that is the most puzzling thing about the book - on one level it's just a quirky story about a slightly weird teacher, on another more profound level I think Miss Brodie is meant to mirror her fascist leader heroes. Like Hitler, Miss Brodie employs slogans, charisma and mind control to subjugate a group and attempt to force them to comply with her own twisted agenda.This is unusual, weird and very good. It's also very short and simple to read - it's well worth a couple of hours of your time.After I read the book I came across this digested read of The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by John Crace of The Guardian. I thought is was hilarious and playfully captures the weirdness and spirit of this unusual book.

  • Maureen
    2019-04-28 09:43

    this is the second muriel spark book i've read. the first was The Girls of Slender Means and i wasn't sold. i cared so little about any of the brittle bitches she wrote about. i was told by an excellent friend after my initial insouciance that i had chosen the wrong book to start with -- actually what he said was, "Stop asking me for reading suggestions. You'll vaguely recall the author's name and months later pick the wrong book by him/her and then grumble about it. :P" and trusting that it was once again my failing, and not of his wisdom, i thought i'd venture forth and try the most well-known of her novels instead, the one written immediately before the girls of slender means, and see where that got me. and here we are, with a two-star rating, and a book that struck just the same as the first -- except it might have had a bit more wit -- i remember some of sandy's fantasies being wonderfully piquant, and were easily my favourite parts of the novel. i want to be clear that i respect the writing -- in fact, this novel is marvellously constructed in its flashing forward and back through time, always maintaining a taut narrative progression. spark doesn't waste words and she wields them like a rapier. i'm glad i've read her because her aptitude was instructive.the issue for me seems to be i don't care two jots about anybody muriel spark writes about. the closest i came to being interested was in the friendship between sandy, the nun/narrator of the novel and her friend jenny and then jenny disappears from the action. i am sure people will suggest that it is in the effect of such real characterization that i have founded an antipathy, and that may well be true. but i would argue that except for sandy and miss brodie, and perhaps lloyd, the art instructor who plays such a pivotal role, many of the characters are static stick figures, easily interchangeable -- surely, i thought jenny might well play the same part as rose in this novel? and at this point now, i can barely remember any of the rest of the brodie set, except that they were there to make up the set, one liked this and another liked that, and there was a maligned one who was their scapegoat (a similar pitiable character was also featured in the girls of slender means.) also, i grew tired of reading about sandy's tiny eyes -- must we hammer home ms. brodie's point about her insight? surely her eyes are turned inside out! not much really happens and i don't care enough about the characters to relish the journey. the writing that is this book's might be sharp but her eponymous spark did not turn into the bonfire i had hoped for.i am trying one last time with spark, because my dear friend initially recommended that i read The Driver's Seat before i went off buying books that weren't his suggestion, and i've been told is quite different (hallelujah) and much more of a mystery, so perhaps more up my alley. so i will be back for one last dance, but not any time yet. this card's currently full.

  • Dhanaraj Rajan
    2019-05-02 10:36

    Firstly:As I began to read this novel, I felt little out of place. That is, I felt this was the novel for girls and I chanced upon it unknowingly. The novel is about a female teacher and her favourite pupils (teen age girls). The setting is the Girls' School. The 'girly talk' among the girls initially put me off. But then, that is only the beginning.As the story progressed and the plot became thick and tense, I could see that it was not a 'girly book'. It was more than that. And that is where Muriel Spark shone very brilliantly. As I finished the novel, I was blaming myself for taking least interest in the beginning and at the same time was congratulating myself for having completed it.Few Observations:This is a novel about a teacher, Miss Brodie who wants to make of her students many more Miss. Brodies. She acts a person who designs the future of her students. It is not that, a teacher should not do that. The problem lies in the fact that Miss Brodie considers herself above every individual aspect and wants her students to come out as she wanted. She did not teach the students to look at the possible directions that her students would have chosen. She wanted to be the master of their destinies. She felt Almighty with her students.This aspect gains all the more weight when we look at the setting this novel takes place in. That is, Edinburgh. It was here that Calvinism held great hold. Calvinism holds that each one's destiny is already set by the Almighty and there is nothing one could do to alter it.Another curious fact is that this novel is set in 1930s when the Fascist ideologies were gaining ground in other European countries (Italy and Germany). Miss Brodie is a great admirer of the Fascists (Mussolini and Hitler). The despotic dictators always tried their hands at education already in the initial stage of their ascendancy to power in order to shape the young minds according to their 'philosophy'. Now, in this light when we place Miss Brodie, she appears as a dictator who wants to have 'one head for all her students.'The wit of Muriel Spark is not very much visible in the language. But it is very much present in the subtle observations. For instance, the student who indulges in imagination/day dreams is shown in the later stage as a nun in the Catholic convent. The one who is with the small eyes is shown to have a great vision.Finally: An interesting and a short book. But it does not lack the power. Go for it.A Warning: If you are reading this edition, and if you are reading it for the first time, skip the introduction by Candia McWilliam and go straight for the story. It is in fact an excellent introduction. But it is very apt to be read after reading the novel.

  • Chrissie
    2019-04-30 14:16

    The central theme of this book focuses upon the pivotal role a teacher can play in the lives of young students. As young adults mature there is that point where seeking to become independent and searching to find a foothold in the adult world, peers and parents and all those one has relied on must be discarded. Sometimes it is a teacher that fills that hole. Then let's keep our fingers crossed that that teacher is a good one. Reading this book will make you think back to your own youth and that teacher who meant the world to you. What if that teacher is completely off course? That is the case here! It is disturbing to recognize the power they hold and watch the trust invested in them being misused. Here the teacher is Miss Jean Brodie, teaching in a girls’ boarding school in Scotland during the 1930s. So I thought, “Why Scotland and why the 30s?” In Scotland Calvinism had a strong hold and in the 1930s Mussolini and Franco and Hitler came to power. So what is the author saying? Something about fascism and religion and predestination, a central tenet of Calvinism? The connection between fascism and Miss Jean Brodie was not hard to draw. One of the students becomes a Catholic nun. Well as you might guess, I was very busy thinking. Miss Jean Brodie and the school's headmistress are on opposing sides in relation to how the girls should be taught. We are told early on that one of Miss Jean Brodie’s girls would betray her to the headmistress, giving the headmistress the opportunity to force Miss Jean Brodie into early retirement. So of course you want to know who this student might be. Then when you find out, you have to understand why. The book kept me thinking. Religion and politics and morals and sex and coming-of-age and the singular power a teacher can have in the lives of their students are all intertwined in this novel. We are shown not only what happens to Miss Jean Brodie, but also what became of her six chosen students. The book maybe sounds serious. It is, but it is also extremely amusing. Do you remember back when you were a young adult? You've got to laugh at the things that are said by Miss Jean Brodie's six kids, her six special students who were to become the crème de la crème, molded and shaped in the image of Miss Brodie herself. I enjoyed this book. It kept my head twirling. What is happening? Why? Will there be revolt? The book also gave me problems. I never felt close to any of the characters. Spark repeats umpteen times the respective traits of her six chosen girls. On closing the book I really was not at all sure I understood why Sandy became a nun. I do understand why she (view spoiler)[betrayed Miss Jean Brodie, if one can call this betrayal. One can only betray a person to whom one is loyal (hide spoiler)]! I think she became a nun because first in (view spoiler)[sleeping with Teddy Lloyd and then in taking his faith she “stole” him from Miss Brodie. Teddy was Catholic.(hide spoiler)] More could have been done in developing the other five girls. I cringed at the mobbing of (view spoiler)[Mary (hide spoiler)]. It is hammered in and not a soul comes to her rescue. It is put in your face and nothing is done with it. I very much enjoyed the audiobook narration by Miriam Margolyes. She used different inflections for different characters. She made the humor sparkling clear. Some of the lines of the young girls totally cracked me up. The speed was perfect, and I liked how the men spoke. I don’t have answers to all the questions I think the book poses.*********************I was told by a friend here on GR that Miss Brodie was based on a real person, Christina Kay. For two years she was one of Spark’s teachers at James Gillespie's School for Girls. Thanks, Bette, for providing this information.

  • Perry
    2019-04-23 12:40

    Of Mussolini,Don't Preach To the Teenies Where You Teach"it's only possible to betray where loyalty is due"Sandy, now Sister Helena of the Transfiguration, is the omniscient narrator of the story looking back at her time in the 1930s at a Catholic grade school in Edinburgh, Scotland, time spent as part of the set of six girls who their teacher Miss Brodie called her "creme de la creme." Ms. Sparks used a number of flash-forwards to most effectively and methodically convey the ultimate betrayal of Miss Jean Brodie by one of the set, which ruined Miss Brodie's teaching career. Miss Brodie died the year after the end of World War II without knowing which girl did the deed, though the mystery obviously bothered her during the decade prior to her death.Ms. Brodie was smart, snod, unconventional and a bit daft, holding potentially harmful sway over the set who she taught off and on from their tenth year to their sixteenth, providing lessons on her love life, her travels particularly to Italy, a great deal of art history and on fascism and her smite with Benito Mussolini. Ironically, it wasn't her questionable methods outside the classroom (such as providing a place for one girl then 13 to pose nude for a male artist to paint her, then suggesting the same girl at 16 have an affair with a married teacher as a sort of surrogate to requite Ms. Brodie's love for him) that led to Ms. Brodie's fall, but the pro-fascist views she espoused. While I found the book had a certain charm and I understand the reasons for its popularity upon its publication in 1961, I think this is among those books whose literary force has been somewhat dulled by the novel being dated.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-01 07:41

    Very nearly four stars, but I can't go that high because the author doesn't provide a strong enough motivation for the girl who betrays Miss Brodie. Miss Jean Brodie is a forty-something Scottish school teacher who never tires of reminding people that she is IN HER PRIME. Someday when I have nothing better to do, I may just go through and count how many times we are told by Miss Brodie (and her girls) that she is IN HER PRIME. Meanwhile, whenever I want an excuse for my eccentric behavior, I will simply state that I am IN MY PRIME.3 3/4 stars

  • Pink
    2019-05-22 09:31

    This was a lot of fun. Only I'm surprised it's not shelved as comedy or satire. Or is that just me? I really should watch the film, with the wonderful Maggie Smith, it's even on YouTube, in fact I'm off to watch it now.

  • Tfitoby
    2019-04-30 12:24

    After my recent introduction to the work of Muriel Spark via The Hothouse by the East River I went on a mini binge of buying every title that came across my path in second hand bookshops, until eventually I found the novel that she is most famous for and the one I had seen everywhere I looked for years until that moment I decided I wanted my own copy. Typical.Still when it finally found its way in to my hands I didn't want to put it down such was the pleasure I was having in getting to know Miss Brodie and her set, and for most people I'm sure they won't have to, it's such a slim volume.When Colin Firth refers to Ruth Gemmell as Miss Jean Brodie in Fever Pitch I had assumed he was referring to how dour, strict and rigid she was, turns out he was referring to the single woman giving the prime of her life to teaching (not sociopathically however) teenagers. That misinterpretation seems to have led my ignorance of the work of Dame Spark and specifically this hugely enjoyable read.Miss Jean Brodie in her prime is a strong, independent woman who strongly believes that a girl should be fully prepared for life via her education and not simply prepared for exams. A novel idea that is still being ignored by educators everywhere it seems. Filled with such extremes of self assurance in all that she does her presence is intoxicating for the young impressionable girls handpicked to be the creme de la creme and her personal avatars going forth in to the world between the wars.Spark's prose is light and witty, filled with astute observations of the interactions between mentor and acolyte, teenage girls with each other and the gradual awareness of their place in the world outside of an educational establishment. Told in a very deliberate piecemeal manner, Spark drops crumbs of what the future would hold for the Brodie Set, hints and revelations are provided only for the action to return to "the present" and in doing so provides a much more intriguing read.Impressively, you are led to feel both enamoured of her attitude towards life and teaching and sympathy for her sad little life whilst increasingly becoming aware that actually her behaviour is quite reprehensible and the damage she is causing these young women with her manipulative, sociopathic behaviour will be irreversible. Many people choose to acknowledge one of the chosen six girls analysing Miss Brodie as thinking of herself as the Calvin God as an admission on behalf of the writer that the entire novel is an assault on the religion of her youth, and hey I guess you could read it that way too if you were so inclined, me I prefer to stick to analysing my literature in relation to human behaviour.There's no way that this should have stayed on my "embarrassingly unread" pile for so long, and the same goes for any person serious about literature of the 20th century, especially as it's such a brief piece. Do yourself a favour and get on out there and find yourself one of the many millions of copies printed worldwide since 1961.

  • Rebbie
    2019-05-02 14:29

    I've had my fill of female sociopaths. It never gets old, unless you've met one in real life. O_0It's a good book, and one that is recommended if you are into this subgenre.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-05-01 13:29

    Yes, this was a very slightly cool novel with schoolgirls being taught "advanced" ideas by Miss Brodie. In other hands you might have got something along the lines of Emanuelle Goes To College but the glinty eyed Miss Spark keeps the whole thing perfectly respectable, if that can include being a fan of Italian fascism.

  • Tyler
    2019-05-15 14:25

    I read this to add to my female authors. I like this book, yet I see why some readers don't. The title implies some sort of in-depth psychological analysis to come, and that doesn't happen. Au contraire. The fame of this novel comes from the strong authorial control over the narrative. Particularly interesting is Spark's manipulation of temporality -- she moves back and forth between present and future with unusual effectiveness. The other remarkable thing is the broad brushstrokes with which she paints her characters. This is where readers expecting a deep portrayal will be disappointed. Spark gives us adequate information, but whatever speculation about the kind of person Jean Brodie is remains the readers' responsibility.I like this approach. It's different and it works for me. The writing in the first part of the book is especially good. Take this sentence near the beginning --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.This single statement conveys a tremendous amount of information about the story and gives a neat sample of the author's strong prose. Nine more sentences like it and she could have told a novel-length story.I recommend the book on the condition that people not expect heavy character analysis. I also think it's a good book for men wanting to add female authors -- it has good general appeal.

  • Karol
    2019-05-10 08:41

    I know I'm in the minority and I'm expected to laud this book as a literary classic, but I absolutely loath it.Miss Brodie is smug, self-serving, and self-absorbed. She cuts a ridiculous figure, building herself up to be better than she is, and rather than trying to actually educate her students, she manipulates them all and is unabashedly cruel to one whom she has singled out.Maybe the writing is good, because great authors make us feel something - right? I did feel plenty of disgust in between bouts of boredom. I simply couldn't stand this writer's style. (Whiny, mean, not at all witty, and repetitive). I stuck with it only because the book was famous, and it was being discussed in a group I'm a member of. The best thing I can say about it: it's short.I'd like to end my review by quoting "Kate" on Goodreads who sums it up all rather tidily: "Hit the snooze button. Because you won't wanna wake up early to finish this trite piece of over-celebrated frump. Miss Jean Brodie is the kind of co-dependent teacher that smart kids steer clear of -- except here she attracts otherwise likable school girls and prods them along this tiresome plot like dying heifers."