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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel…
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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (original 1961; edition 2013)

by Muriel Spark

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3,9251291,841 (3.73)487
Member:Cecrow
Title:The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Authors:Muriel Spark
Info:Viking (2013), Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:education, Edinburgh, 501 Must-Read, self-identity, classic

Work details

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961)

1960s (66)
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English (124)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (129)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
You know the story, there's a movie with the same plot about once a year: eccentric, inspiring, unorthdox teacher breaks all the rules and opens her student's minds, changing their lives forever. Miss Jean Brodie is more interesting, because she is also dictatorial, a bully, and has some odd psychological issues that also change their lives forever - not necessarily in a good way.

I've had a couple of teachers who were similar, with a cult of followers that hung on their every word. They were never particularly interested in me, probably because I never trusted teachers much, and they picked up on that. This book deserves 4 or even 5 stars, but I only gave it 3 because I really hated Miss Jean Brodie. I think we were supposed to love/hate her, and find her amusing. I was just creeped out. So far, all the Modern Library Top 100 have unlikeable main characters. Can't we have a great modern novel starring someone I like? Still, it passes my rule for an excellent book: I was deeply engaged while reading it, and kept thinking about it afterwards.

I forgot to mention the best part of this book - the descriptions of the girls, and how they all wore their school uniform hats slightly differently. Nice touch. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark tells of an unmarried instructor at a girls’ school in Edinburgh during the 1930s whose unconventional methods and devotion to her students both inspire and threaten the status quo. But is Jean Brodie really a good teacher? Well, let’s see: she steadfastly refuses to teach the standard curriculum, preferring instead to regale students with her personal philosophies and stories; she singles out a select number of students—the Brodie Set—for special attention to the detriment of all others; she is demeaning and cruel to students and colleagues who do not measure up to her standards; she convinces one girl to quit school and go fight in the Spanish Civil War (which does not end well); she encourages another student to have an affair with a married colleague who she secretly desires herself; and she openly promotes a dangerous fascist agenda in her classroom. So, my answer would be that Miss Jean Brodie is a horrible teacher who creates far more harm than good.

However, that is not the conclusion the author appears to want us to take away from this brief character study and morality tale. Based on an unconventional mentor from her own past who encouraged her to become a writer, Spark paints a nuanced and complicated portrait of Brodie—and particularly the relationship she cultivates with “her girls”—but one that is ultimately sympathetic in promoting the notion that she has somehow been betrayed by one of her former charges. (Indeed, this act of betrayal, which Brodie herself does not fully understand until the day she dies, is really nothing more holding a rogue teacher accountable for her own actions.) Beyond that flawed premise, the writing in this highly touted novel is frequently repetitive and heavy-handed in its use of foreshadowing—the reader learns quite early in the book everything that will play out on later pages. While The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is regarded by many as a classic of modern literature, it is not a story that I enjoyed or would recommend. ( )
  browner56 | Sep 8, 2018 |
Perfect in every way. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (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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First words
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.
Quotations
'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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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.

(summary from another edition)

» 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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