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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel…

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

by Muriel Spark

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,9401261,813 (3.74)486
1960s (66)

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English (121)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (127)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
I would have given it a 2.5 if that were possible. I found it somewhat disappointing and bland. It was very short or I might have abandoned it as the story seemed to be going no where and in the wasn't. I think it helps if you can put this in the context of the 60s and early 70s when the sexual liberation of young women was all the rage. In the end all I saw was a pathetic school-marm spinster who made a wreck of some young lives along the way.

One of the weaknesses of this novel for me is that you never feel the least involved in either Jean Brodie or the young narrator, Sandy. If you cared about either of them the story would have a different depth of meaning. As it was, Sandy seemed vacuous and in the end vindictive and cruel and Jean a clueless and shallow pedant who is less interested in guiding her charges than in touting herself by telling stories of her exploits that are more fiction than fact.

One point Spark does make well is that we are influenced greatly when we are young by those who have authority over us and some of those people remain in our minds and find their way into our image of ourselves. Miss Brodie's effect upon the six girls who become her followers is long-lasting. How can poor Mary ever be expected to think well of herself after years of being told she is stupid and clumsy? Why does Sandy become a nun, when it is obvious that her religious leanings are weak at best? I think this is a way of trying to compensate and forgive herself for her ultimate betrayal of Jean, but I reach this conclusion despite the fact that Spark does not paint her with any brush of remorse. Nor does Jean seem to feel any remorse for sending Rose out to fulfil her own lusts after the art teacher...only a total preoccupation with knowing who gave up her secrets to the headmistress.

I could not help comparing this book to other books set in schools of this age. [b:A Separate Peace|5148|A Separate Peace|John Knowles|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1439235282s/5148.jpg|39755] came to mind. Such a mental comparison serves to diminish this book even farther in my view. Having been aware of this book for a long time and promising myself to read it, I know that it is well respected and has a following. I must say it is perhaps just not the book for me. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
First, let me say I have long loved the movie adaptation of this book staring the magnificent Maggie Smith who won an Oscar for her performance. I had high hopes for this book. Maybe my expectations were placed too high for it. Set in Edinburgh in the 1930s at the Marcia Blaine School For Girls, this book follows one of its teachers, Miss Jean Brodie and her influence on a set of girls she taught when they were eleven and their minds were malleable and who had parents that wouldn't complain to the headmistress. It mainly follows Sandy Stranger one of the girls who was closest to Miss Brodie.

Miss Brodie had radical ideas such as she supported Mussolini in Italy and the fascists in Spain during their civil war and later even Hitler. She didn't believe in teaching things from the books such as math and science and their version of history. She talked about her travels to different countries and the importance of art and dance. She would have them over to tea and take them on excursions to the movies or the opera or the ballet.

She believed she was in her prime and the world was open to her as well as all sorts of experiences. While in love with the art teacher who was married and therefore untenable, she began a love affair with the choirmaster who was also madly in love with her. The headmistress would try to get her on a sex scandal to try to fire her. She would interrogate the girls and try to find some firable offense to get rid of her and her wild teaching ways. One of her girls will betray her at some point and she will be forced to retire and die alone.

I'm not giving anything away here. You find that out early on in the book, including who the betrayer is. This is not a terribly long book, only 137 pages, but it feels much longer as you are plodding through so much boring junk. The book is also written in such a choppy style. The character Sandy isn't all that interesting and sure Miss Brodie is a bad teacher and you soon realize a bad person but she doesn't make it exciting enough to compel the story forward. You will rarely hear me say this, but skip the book and watch the movie. ( )
  nicolewbrown | May 28, 2018 |
Talk about a book being more than the sum of its parts. Every sentence is like a freaking scalpel. Sad to say but it's so refreshing to read a book that refuses to spell things out for the reader and makes you form all the connections yourself—something about that is really powerful. The book operates on all these different levels—temporal, POV, emotional, moral—and was so rewarding. ( )
  lisapeet | Apr 28, 2018 |
Wry humor and inventive use of flash forwards. I didn't find the characters in the Brodie set to be particularly well differentiated or all that relatable, so it is hard to be invested in their outcomes. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Apr 1, 2018 |
Probably Spark's greatest novel, but I personally have a bit of a preference for Memento Mori, perhaps because Jean Brodie pales for me as a novel compared with Maggie Smith's Oscar-winning performance in the movie. (And let me add that one of the greatest omissions in Academy history is that Pam Franklin wasn't even nominated for her performance as Sandy Stranger.) One of these lifetimes I'll have to get around to watching the miniseries with Geraldine McEwan.

Although, of course, it is both in the novel and the movie that it is Sandy who "betrays" Jean Brodie, the book and the movie do not have the same ending – the book, interestingly, having (I think) an ending more sexualized than political, and definitely an ending more ambiguous than that of the movie. ( )
2 vote CurrerBell | Mar 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
She writes with cool exactness, a firm voice (each tale has its own) and compassionate wit. In her new novel (originally published last fall, in shorter form, in The New Yorker), she deals with a violent woman whose romantic spirit is impatient with all but the Absolute.

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spark, Murielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barbero, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blythe, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dilé, LéoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
袁凤珠Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gripiõtēs, NikosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gubler, AugustoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hirata, GeniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kosturkov, ĬordanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Margolyes, MiriamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McWilliam, CandiaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mihăiță, GigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Naujack, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Özgören, PürenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Omboni, IdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paz, MagdeleineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pedrolo, Manuel deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Periquito, MargaridaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosen, Ingeborg vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Uhrynowska-Hanasz, ZofiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitlau, W.A.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 is Stanley Baldwin who got in as Prime Minister and got out again ere long,' said Miss Brodie. 'Miss Mackay retains him on the wall because she believes in the slogan "Safety First". But Safety does not come first. Goodness, Trust and Beauty come first. Follow me.
"We shall discuss tomorrow night the persons who oppose me' said Miss Brodie. 'But rest assured they shall not succeed.''No,' said everyone. 'No, Of course they won't.''Not while I am in my prime. It is important to recognize the years of one's prime, always remember that,..'
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Disambiguation notice
"La Vera Miss Brodie" is not the same work as "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie": it is an Italian article. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie = Gli anni in fiore della signorina Brodie (or Gli anni fulgenti di miss Brodie)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060931736, Paperback)

The elegantly styled classic story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special--and ultimately dangerous--relationship with six of her students.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A teacher at a girl's school in Edinburgh during the 1930s comes into conflict with school authorities because of her unorthodox teaching methods.

» see all 12 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141181427, 0241956773

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