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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel…

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (original 1961; edition 1999)

by Muriel Spark

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4,9551611,952 (3.72)569
A teacher at a girl's school in Edinburgh during the 1930s comes into conflict with school authorities because of her unorthodox teaching methods.
Title:The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Authors:Muriel Spark
Info:New York : Perennial Classics, 1999.
Collections:Your library, Read, Currently Own, Classics, Literature
Tags:Scottish Fiction, Women Writers 1900-1970

Work Information

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

Recently added byAnita_Pomerantz, erina777, BeiraBooks, private library, Charlie2763
Legacy LibrariesDavid Robert Jones, Evelyn Waugh , Graham Greene
1960s (23)
Europe (76)
Teens (17)

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English (155)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (162)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark delves into the life and character of a school teacher. A teacher for whom norms - societal or otherwise - seem to hold little meaning. Miss Brodie teaches as she believes children ought to be taught, everyone else's opinion be damned. And she conducts her personal life as she sees fit. Which essentially entails being in love with one married colleague while carrying on a relationship with another.

Miss Brodie is not exactly the type of teacher I'd go for. She's a control freak to say the least. But her girls (known as her set) seem to be quite taken in by her approach and by her desire to expose them to information well beyond the established curriculum.

Suprisingly, this novel read much more like a short story than a novel. Like most short stories, it is thought-provoking, darker, and uses more symbolism than most novels. Well, at leas tthe novels I tend to gravitate toward.

This book is not the type of book that you can read and just take it on its face value. It is a very in-depth portrait of one woman's character. On the face of it, Miss Brodie professes to care about "her set", the name she calls the girls that she teaches, but in reality she uses each of the girls in different ways. She also commands their loyalty until one girl betrays her in the end.

Spark has an interesting way of writing. She telegraphs many of the most important twists and turns in the book in an almost offhand manner prior to their occurrence. To give you an example without giving away the plot, it is as if your friend turned to you and said, "I'll be dying in a few weeks." And then two weeks later that same friend turns around and explains her earliest symptoms, and how she went to the doctor, and how she was diagnosed. This approach is different than most novels I've read where you aren't told what is going to happen but rather shown it as it is happening. It's different, but it definitely works for this book.

The challenge I found reading this book is that I'm quite sure I'm missing something. I've got the plotline straight, but there is most certainly a serious political message here about Fascism. Sadly, I'm such a dolt when it comes to history that I really have little insight into the deeper layers of this book. The only clear analysis I, with my very limited analytical skills, could draw was that in her own little world, Miss Jean Brodie was a fascist, controlling and unaccepting of any behaviors that deviated from her expectation.

I definitely think this is a book that would benefit from a second reading. Perhaps with Wikipedia at my fingertips to look up some of the historical references. Not sure I can exactly tell you run out and get this book if you are more of the casual reader sort. There's a lot more engrossing tales out there today for you to spend your time on.

But, if you do like being knowledgeable about classic literature AND enjoy teasing out the underlying meaning of a story, you may find this a nice little challenge.

Oh, and short story fans - - I'd definitely recommend this book to you.

Tension/Engaging: 3 star
Language: 3 stars
Emotion: 3 star
Character Development: 5 star
Dialogue: 3 stars
Worth the Effort: 4 star
Social commentary/theme: 4 stars
Originality: 4 stars ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
In my current mental state, a weirdly sexualized coming of age novel is NOT what I needed. ( )
  Eavans | Feb 17, 2023 |
What was the author trying to say with this book? Maybe I was not in the right frame of mind to read it as a "deep" book. I never quite figured out the point.

I see Miss Brodie as a middle-aged spinster rebelling against the mores of her era, yet at the same time living vicariously through the girls she chose to "mentor." She seems cruel and self-centered, and some of the girls do, too. And the focus on sex...these girls seem awfully precocious at 11 or 12 years of age.

I finished the book but didn't particularly enjoy it. ( )
  AuntieG0412 | Jan 23, 2023 |
I wish I hadn't wasted an odd 30mins or so on this.
The main character, Mis Jean Brodie, is an annoying twat.
I never want to hear the phrases - 'my prime' or 'creme de la creme' again.
The one positive, it was well written. ( )
  spiritedstardust | Dec 29, 2022 |
This was a grower for sure. I tried reading it awhile ago and gave up because its so boring. But I gave it another shot in audiobook format because I was hoping for some lesbian themes, and this book didn't disappoint. It's still fairly boring, there isn't much of a plot. But it does give you a lot to think about as you try to figure out what's going on with the three main characters. I think it may actually be worth a closer reread as well.

Miss Brodie is a bird. There's just not another way to describe her foolishness. She's a teacher who is completely unqualified for her job and doesn't care that she's unqualified because she's in her "prime." I love it, I love her. I wish for all women to be this unconcerned with their work and to view their entire 30s-60s as their prime. Miss Brodie is so self-obsessed that she views her students as an extension of herself. They are merely the props holding up her own ego. They don't have their own personalities or ambitions in her mind, they just have what she's assigned to them. And like many a bird, Miss Brodie is obsessed with an unattainable man. I usually don't encourage women sleeping with married men, but Miss Brodie is such a bird I don't think she could have gotten over him in any other way. She doesn't sleep with him and I feel like that's one of many social commentaries in the novel. The fact that someone as freewheeling as Miss Brodie doesn't feel free enough to take what is both wanted and on offer says a lot about how restrictive society is for women.

On that theme, throughout this entire book everyone is so incredibly critical of Miss Brodie. Yes, she's a vain ditz who has no business teaching, but the true villain of the story is Mr. Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd is a predator. He clearly has a lot of sex with his Catholic wife, who is forced to bear his children, yet it is not enough. He tries to lure Miss Brodie into a sexual affair even though he knows it would absolutely ruin her. He forces his lips onto a fifteen-year-old girl. And though it isn't explicitly stated, it seems pretty clear that Mr. Lloyd uses his passion for painting portraits as a way to lure young girls into his studio in the hopes of turning them into lovers. Yuck! The fact that almost no criticism lands at Mr. Lloyd's feet is a huge commentary in itself. Very typical of our society to blame a woman for possibly being loose and not a man for being a clear and obvious philanderer and predator.

Lastly, there is Sandy. My poor mess of a child. She is a hard character to understand because Spark doesn't give us a ton of info on her background. But halfway through this book, I figured Sandy must be in love with Miss Brodie and not understand or what to do with those feelings. Her obsession is weird. All of the other girls give Miss Brodie platonic friend energy, but Sandy holds back in weird ways. At one point she silently accuses Miss Brodie of being a lesbian and its like...girl, look in the mirror. She becomes so obsessed with Miss Brodie that she sleeps with the man Miss Brodie loves just to be closer to her in some sick way. She doesn't even like the man, she's just trying to understand why the man loves Miss Brodie so much...because maybe if she understands his obsession she'll understand her own. Eventually she retreats into Catholicism because she no longer wants to think for herself. Thinking for herself would mean sorting through all of her complicated feelings. It's so much easier to live by the strict rules of a nunnery. And of course, she turns Miss Brodie in because the woman stirred up so many feelings within her that she was upset with having to deal with. Like Miss Brodie, Sandy gives no indication of actually giving a shit about the kids that come after her.

Fun stuff. This also returned to me the concept of "being in my prime." I love that idea and will likely be saying it for years to come. ( )
  tanyaferrell | Dec 29, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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 (30 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
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
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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Book description
Haiku summary
prewar Edinburgh;
six impressionable girls
schoolmistress primes

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141181427, 0241956773


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