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The Ballad of Peckham Rye (Penguin Modern…
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The Ballad of Peckham Rye (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1960; edition 2006)

by Muriel Spark, William Boyd (Introduction)

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4761421,697 (3.41)50
Member:thanissaro
Title:The Ballad of Peckham Rye (Penguin Modern Classics)
Authors:Muriel Spark
Other authors:William Boyd (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, read in 2013
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark (1960)

  1. 00
    The Fall of Kelvin Walker by Alasdair Gray (slickdpdx)
    slickdpdx: For fans of slim well-written novels about devilish young Scotsmen.
  2. 00
    The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy (mambo_taxi)
    mambo_taxi: Both novels feature highly dubious lead characters who will have you rooting for the more delicate side of evil in the end.
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
British foolery. Quick read with a few giggles. Otherwise, pointless narrative and unimpressive writing. ( )
  JamesMScott | Aug 17, 2016 |
The Ballad of Peckham Rye is the story of how a man, Dougal Douglas, turns a blue collar town upside down. When Dougal Douglas is hired as an "Art Man" for the firm of Meadows, Meade & Grinley, he starts doing research on the town of Peckham and its people. Several times Dougal claims to be a devil and Spark leaves it up to the reader to decide if he truly has supernatural origins or if he is simply a con-man stirring up trouble. It was an interesting look at a working class community in mid-twentieth century London. Sparks takes a satirical look at classes within a class, morals, and relationships. It was an interesting book that I think I would have appreciated more if I was more familiar with the place and time that was being satirized. The characters were all flawed, which was the point of the story, and not really likable but they were believable. I will definitely read more by Muriel Spark. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
I did not understand this book, at all. Even "wickedly farcical fables" should have some string of logic to them, I would hope. I also don't understand the cover for the audiobook I listened to. Maybe it is to represent the loud fashion of the era the book is set in, which I believe to be 1960 London, when Spark wrote it, making it, at the time, a contemporary novel. I had to resort to the Wikipedia article to make sense out of the story. According to Wikipedia, "The text draws upon the supernatural, as well as issues of Irish and Scottish migrancy and offers a critique of the sterile and unremarkable nature of the lives of the Peckham working class." Ooookkkkkaaayyyy.... I got snippets of the working class bit and if Dougal is to represent the issues that an Irish or Scottish migrant to England faced, that makes sense. The whole devil/shape-shifter aspect of Dougal's character is probably supposed to lend a fable-like quality to the story but it is so subtle that Dougal just really comes across as a human annoyance to a segment of Peckham's population. Spark lets her razor sharp wit flow into characters - all flawed souls - as is her norm, but Dougal tends to overshadow Spark's gift for exposing the human condition of her characters to examination. The end result is a rather strange story that my mind is still trying to make heads or tails of.

Not one of Spark's better stories, IMO. ( )
  lkernagh | Nov 7, 2015 |
When Dougal Douglas (or Douglas Dougal) moves to Peckham to work for the firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley, he begins an inquiry into the private lives and morals of the members of the firm and starts a wave of chaos and devilry that ripples through the town.

Those familiar with Muriel Spark may find themselves taken aback at the style of this short novel; though it has the brusque, clear sentences that Spark so favors, it also tends to repeat itself, showing new glimpses of the same conversations or circumstances. What remains the same, however, is Spark's estimable ability to create characters who are realistic and complex, defying easy analysis. Dougal Douglas, with his off-beat mannerisms and wicked instigations, is hard to dislike, but not one to like either. Like the townspeople, the reader finds themselves more curious and intrigued than anything, and eager to see what happens next.

A witty, quick, and thoroughly wicked romp, The Ballad of Peckham Rye is one of Spark's classics. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
Another wry (pun intended) novel by the witty, observant Muriel Spark. It centers on Dougal Douglas, a young Scotsman newly arrived in Peckham Rye. Dougal has his fingers in many pies, spying for more than one master, chatting up whatever available young woman happens to be around, and warning everyone that he has "a fatal flaw" (which seems to change with the occasion). In the meantime, Dougal is writing a kind of moral history of Peckham, based on his observations of and interactions with his neighbors, friends, and coworkers.

Spark was an impeccable observer of English society, always writing with affection and tongue in cheek. While I enjoyed this novel, I didn't think it compared favorably to her others that I have read, including 'Memento Mori,' 'A Far Cry from Kensington,' and 'The Girls of Slender Means.' ( )
1 vote Cariola | Nov 18, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spark, Murielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bellone, Maria GraziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, WilliamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carroll-Najder, HalinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crepax, MargheritaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delahaye, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maaløe, ChristopherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosen, Ingeborg vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schnack, ElisabethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811214087, Paperback)

The Ballad of Peckham Rye is the wickedly farcical fable of a blue-collar town turned upside down. When the firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley hires Dougal Douglas to do "human research" into the private lives of its workforce, they are in no way prepared for the mayhem, mutiny, and murder he will stir up. "Not only funny but startlingly original," declared The Washington Post, "the legendary character of Dougal Douglas . . . may not have been boasting when he referred so blithely to his association with the devil."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:24 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A man of devilish charm and enterprising spirit, Dougal Douglas is employed to revitalize the ailing firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley. He succeeds, but not quite in the way his employer intended. Strange things begin to happen as Dougal exerts an uncanny influence on the inhabitants of Peckham Rye and brings lies, tears, blackmail and even murder into the lives of all he meets, from Miss Merle Coverdale, head of the typing pool, to Beauty, the resident femme fatale, and even Mr Druce, the unsuspecting Managing Director himself.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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