"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is a short novel by Muriel Spark (Scottish) that tells the story of a teacher in an all-girl's school in Edinburgh and"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is a short novel by Muriel Spark (Scottish) that tells the story of a teacher in an all-girl's school in Edinburgh and her "set"--the group of young girls that she teaches and sharply influences during a period of her life she refers to as her "prime." The story-telling method weaves back and forth from the time the girls are ten until they are adults, giving hints about their fate and their destinies.
Jean Brodie is eccentric and unconventional--the "artistic type" who engages in love affairs, travels, is a lover of art and finds admiration in such historical figures as Mussolini and Hitler--all of which she shares with her pupils in lieu of traditional studies. She believes that education is a "leading out" of certain ideas in young girls that are often not attended too. Not surprisingly, the conservative school wishes to be rid of her.
TPOMJB is a study of character. Miss Brodie, though religious, deems herself above moral law. She could be compared in some ways to a fascist dictator, who sets his own rules, and in some ways to God himself.
The writing style is brilliant but this was a bit boring to me. I don't understand why Miss Brodie is such an important figure, although I do appreciate the original story-telling.
"...His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom no"...His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever going to happen."
The Age that Wharton so painstakingly details in her Pulitzer Prize winning novel (she was the first female recipient) is far from innocent. Rather, it is a world where innocence is feined...where old, rich, tight-knit families make and enforce the rules and rigid standards are in place regarding all aspects of living...engagements, dress, hour to dine, receiving and making visits...
"In reality, they all lived in kind of a hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs..."
Newland Archer is the vehicle that Wharton uses to guide us through the lifestyles of upper class, Fifth Avenue-dwelling New Yorkers in the late 1800's. He is torn between the security he feels with his safe yet dull choice of wife and way of living (as characterized by his fiance, the young and chaste May Welland) and his chance to experience a life of freedom and imagination...his shot at Bohemia and "bucking" the social system...as represented by the Countess Ellen Olenska, May's scandalized cousin who dares to live independently.
So why is this a five star novel? For me, it was the beautifully crafted sentences...the language and Wharton's own particular way of saying things (genius)...Wharton takes the weighty decisions that we all must make, and by playing out the consequences via living, breathing characters...she causes us to reflect on our own choices and the timeless conflict of what is versus what might have been....more
"You’re a damn good man, sister," he said and went out.
The Maltese Falcon is Dashiell Hammett's take on the hard-boiled detective novel. The novel, w"You’re a damn good man, sister," he said and went out.
The Maltese Falcon is Dashiell Hammett's take on the hard-boiled detective novel. The novel, which originally appeared in serialized form in the pulp magazine Black Mask, is widely considered to be one of the best novels ever written, and probably the best detective novel ever.
The story begins as our anti-hero Sam "he-won't-play-the-sap-for-you" Spade and his partner Miles Archer are hired by a Miss Wonderly as private detectives to find her little sister. It is soon discovered that Miss Wonderly has no sister, and is actually seeking assistance in her plot to possess a famous antique figurine, a Maltese falcon, or black bird, that is encrusted with jewels.
We the reader are only allowed to know what actually occurs, as, unusually, no inner dialogue is expressed from characters. What makes the Maltese Falcoln extraordinary is the language, the clean, sparse writing that so efficiently and artfully describes these characters, and Spade's lack of emotion or morals in his life's dealings...so famously portrayed on screen by the perfectly cast Humphrey Bogart.
Noir fiction (James Cain, Raymond Chandler) tends to confuse me with some of it's intricate plot twists, but always hooks me with its beautiful, distinct language and descriptions.
The tappity-tap-tap and the thin bell and muffled whir of Effie Perine's typewriting came through the closed door. Somewhere in a neighboring office a power-driven machine vibrated dully. On Spade's desk a limp cigarette smoldered in a brass tray filled with the remains of limp cigarettes. Ragged grey flakes of cigarette-ash dotted the yellow top of the desk and the green blotter and the papers that were there. A buff-curtained window, eight or ten inches open, let in from the court a current of air faintly scented with ammonia. The ashes on the desk twitched and crawled in the current....more