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Not to Disturb (1971)

by Muriel Spark

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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272993,991 (3.3)24
Behind the high walls of a mansion in Geneva, a night of sinister revelry is about to begin. As the macabre scenario plays itself out, a world of grim humour and gruesome possibilities unfolds.

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» See also 24 mentions

English (7)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This was an instant reread for me, for pleasure and necessity. The complete disregard to time and order threw me the first time around and it was only upon the reread that I could fully appreciate Spark 's deftness. She doesn't care about catering to her readers. If you're going to read her, the onus is on you. She doesn't have time to spell out everything for you but all the details are there as long as you take care to pick them out. The reader is dropped in to the middle of the story, the middle of a conversation, and must be willing to just be carried away by the current and grab onto any passing clues for an easier and more pleasurable journey. The most important thing I learnt from this book is to trust the (Spark) process. ( )
  kitzyl | Nov 6, 2023 |
The writing is brilliant but I just could get into the novel. It didn't really flow for me. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Mozart's Don Giovanni ends, after the Don has been dragged down into the flames of Hell, with his faithful servant Leporello telling us that he's off to the inn to look for a better master. This typically eccentric Spark miniature takes more or less the same point of view, except that in this case the servants have already put in place their plans to profit from the situation well before anyone else knows that disaster is on its inevitable way for their employers. Spark obviously wants us to re-examine our role as readers of fiction in the light of these cynical observers of other people's tragedies.

The servants' hall setting and the dialogue-driven style that leaves you to work out for yourself who is who seem to be a conscious echo of Henry Green and Ivy Compton-Burnett, but the jokes are very much Spark's own, down to the running gag that none of the speakers ever gets quite the verb they're looking for. And the economy is pure Spark - a super-complex plot with far too many characters all crammed into 90 pages! Hectic, but fun. ( )
2 vote thorold | May 18, 2018 |
This is a well-written but extremely obscure mystery,in more ways than one.
The scene is Geneva. In the servants quarters of the large residence of the Baron and Baroness Klopstock,the staff wait. In the attic,the Baron's lunatic brother is confined and can be heard howling. The Baron and his wife together with their Secretary are not to be disturbed for any reason. There you have it in a nutshell. If you understand it all,then you're a better man then me Gunga Dinn. ( )
  devenish | Oct 18, 2011 |
One of the most imaginative, brilliant and funny mystery novellas with magical distortions of time ( )
2 vote almigwin | Oct 1, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
The license of Gothic has its liberties, and countless writers from Walpole to Barthelme have taken them. Some, like Ann Radcliffe or Peacock, used Gothic convention to satirize realism and provide pleasures beyond those enjoyed by the light of common day. Others, like the Brontes or Hawthorne, used the fantastic machinery to explore submerged human impulses and the secrets of a universe not to be revealed by reason.

Mrs. Spark appears to have both traditions in mind. In one respect, her new novel is an agile send-up of different kinds of popular fiction: detective stories, the Jeeves novels, and realistic tales about the servant problem. Read with these parallels in mind, "Not to Disturb" offers fresh laughter and acerbic insight into conventional ways of writing about the hypocrisies of master-servant relationships. Occasionally, the parody extends to other Gothic novels. ... Like several of Mrs. Spark's recent stories, "Not to Disturb" has the cleverness to entertain and the intelligence to provoke thought; but, finally, its philosophical mysteries look suspiciously like pretenses, and the book leaves the annoying as well as the stimulating after-effects of legerdemain.

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Muriel Sparkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gunn, DanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pariser, VanCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, AlanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The other servants fall silent as Lister enters the room.
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Behind the high walls of a mansion in Geneva, a night of sinister revelry is about to begin. As the macabre scenario plays itself out, a world of grim humour and gruesome possibilities unfolds.

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