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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

by Muriel Spark

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8431561,873 (3.73)564
A teacher at a girl's school in Edinburgh during the 1930s comes into conflict with school authorities because of her unorthodox teaching methods.
1960s (23)
Europe (76)
Teens (17)
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» See also 564 mentions

English (149)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 149 (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 nowhere. 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://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1528860889l/5148._SY75_.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. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul.”
― Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

rating and review of this quirky and fun book to follow.

It took me forever to read this. Once I did though I could see what all the fuss is about. Miss Jean Brody is such a vivid character. I so enjoyed reading about her.

This book has been compared to Dead Poet Society but they are not really anything alike in my humble opinion. In DPS, The teacher is an unsung hero . Not so with the quirky Jean.

She can be lovable and full of fun but can also be quite cruel as well as strange. And always, there is a feeling of pity for her mixed with a tinge of admiration at our bold Miss Brody for daring to be different.

That is what sets this book apart. Jean Brody is such a complicated character. I enjoyed the book greatly although I still had some unanswered questions at the end.

Highly recommended. Don't wait as long as I did to read this book. ( )
  Thebeautifulsea | Aug 6, 2022 |
A very strange little novel set around WWII in Edinburgh. I have no idea what the purpose of this book is, and how it could be turned into a movie of any kind. Easily read, but I wouldn't bother.
One thing the author did that I found interesting; recounting the same scene exactly at different places in the book, so the reader get to experience it once without context and once with context, making it a very different read. ( )
  amberwitch | Jul 10, 2022 |
I read this book years ago, and now on re-reading it for my book group I’m struck not so much with how evil Jean Brodie is, but how ridiculous. She pontificates about love, art, and of course the marvels of Mussolini, in such a preposterous manner that one wonders why the adults don’t just laugh in her face. Perhaps that’s why she only associates with 10=to-12-year old young girls. And why do these men find her irresistible? She must be REALLY good in the sack.

This was one of Spark’s earliest novels and her portrait of the Marcia Blaine School was based on her own experiences at James Gillespie’s High School in Scotland. This short novel packs a punch. ( )
1 vote etxgardener | May 13, 2022 |
Jean Brodie is in her prime. At least that is what she says. She regularly informs her girls, her special set of students whom she is developing into the créme de la créme, that when one is in one’s prime, as she is, all manner of art and beauty is open to one. Mostly, however, her girls assume she is talking about sex. Maybe not when they were 10, when she first took them under her wing, but increasingly through the years in which they stay in close contact even after the two years she taught them directly. Her girls range from the bright to the dull, from the beautiful to the plain, but they all share an absolute devotion to Miss Brodie. Any act of betrayal on their part is almost inconceivable. And yet…

The writing here is marvellously subtle and playful as the narrator jumps between characters and over time-spans to reveal, early on, outcomes for the various girls. It is so light and knowing that you will be astounded at Spark’s reinvention of the school novel. If it is your first direct encounter with her writing, as it has been for me, you will immediately want to commit yourself to reading everything that Spark has written. But you’ll probably find yourself returning to Jean Brodie in her prime simply to admire the craft and sparkle of Muriel Spark’s prose.

Certainly recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Dec 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 149 (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 (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spark, Murielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barbero, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blythe, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cook, BerylIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dilé, LéoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
袁凤珠Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gripiõtēs, NikosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gubler, AugustoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hager, HalAfterwordsecondary 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
Powers, R. M.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosen, Ingeborg vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, AlanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, AlanForewordsecondary 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.
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
1961 novel. "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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A teacher at a girl's school in Edinburgh during the 1930s comes into conflict with school authorities because of her unorthodox teaching methods.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141181427, 0241956773

 

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