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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie [Hardcover]

Muriel Spark
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 1998 1568496982 978-1568496986
The classic bestselling book--the subject of a play, movie, and a song--that tells the darkly fascinating story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special, and ultimately dangerous, relationship with six of her students.

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"A gloriously witty and polished vignette." -- -- Times Literary Supplement

"A perfect book." -- -- Chicago Tribune

"Admirably written, beautifully constructed, extremely amusing, and deeply serious." -- -- Saturday Review

"A gloriously witty and polished vignette." -- Times Literary Supplement

"A perfect book." -- Chicago Tribune

"A remarkable novel." -- New Statesman

"Admirably written, beautifully constructed, extremely amusing, and deeply serious." -- Saturday Review

"Intelligent, witty...Spark's powers of invention are apparently inexhaustible." -- Commonweal

"Muriel Spark is one of the few writers on either side of the Atlantic with enough resources, daring, and stamina to be altering, as well as feeding, the fiction machine." -- John Updike, The New Yorker

"Remarkable: Surprises are systematically reduced until there is only one left, and it is like the stab of a stiletto." -- The Spectator --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dame Muriel Spark (1918-2006) wrote more than twenty books, including Memento Mori, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, and Symposium.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Based on the real life Christina Kay at the James Gillespie school, this classic is a must for anyone who would like to be considered literate in English Literature. Miss Jean Brodie is one of the most complex, idealistic, self-deluded, vulnerable, vital, romantic, preposterous, lonely, gregarious, outspoken and solipsistic character you will ever meet. She is the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle whereas others are only the squares on the two sides. Listen to her lessons: "Phrases like 'the team spirit' are always employed to cut across individualism, love, and personal loyalitiies. Ideas like 'team spirit' ought not to be enjoined on the female sex, expecially if they are of that dedicated nature whose virtues from time immemorial have been utterly opposed to the concept. Florence Nightingale knew nothing of team spirit, her mission was to save life regardless of the team to which it belonged. Cleopatra knew nothing of the team spirit if you read your Shakespeare. Take Helen of Troy! ... Where would team spirit have got Sybil Thorndike? She is the great actress and the rest of the cast have got the team spirit. Pavlova..."
Jean if you are out there now, marry me. Please. You're my kind of woman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Little Classic May 29 2002
I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie because it was on the Modern Library List of the greatest novels of the 20th Century, and I knew it was pretty short. I thought it would be interesting to see why it made that list. As it turns out, I think The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is one of the books which earned its place on that list.
The novel concerns Miss Brodie and here five students. She has chosen these five in order to craft them into her image. Miss Brodie is a spinster and wants to live her life through them. Miss Brodie imparts all of her views on them even though they conflict with the more conservative views of the school. Miss Brodie's views are very liberal. She is very frank when talking to her students about her sexual liasons, and she encourages some of them to become sexually active with a male teacher. Miss Brodie is also a fascist, and she tries to impart these views on the students, too. In the end, you see the ways in which she has influenced her students.
The novel is really superb. I seems to comment on the how ideals can be taken too far and can be checked. Miss Brodie also seems to represent Calvinism and Fascism. She contrasts Miss Brodie's position with the school's more conservative positions. The novel is written in superb prose (I'm not sure why people complain). The repetitions in the prose are there for a reason (to represent propaganda). The characterizations, particularly of Miss Brodie and Sandy, are apt. It's really a graceful novel with a lot to say (much of which I agree with). It's definitely thought provoking and very worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An ingenious little book April 8 2002
By A Customer
"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is the first book I read by this famous Scottish writer, and right after I finished, I searched the web to learn that Dame Spark has played an important role in the development of trends in modern, contemporary British literature. Due to the heavyweight nature of the reading matter I recently devoured, I decided to buy the shortest book by Muriel Spark, and it turned out to be one of her most important ones, with a charming literary archetype, the lovable Miss Brodie. At first, I had thought to myself - what an amusing little book! - but when I finished the novel, I had quite a different set of perceptions, although I still think that the essence of this this book is more of anecdotal humor than of anything else. A perfect, encyclopedic example of how, in literary fiction, delicious entertainment may be successfully married with profound philosophical issues.
Only a small subset of pupils are lucky to be educated, and prepared for life by teachers with a true calling, like Miss Brodie. Teaching is an occupation like any other, yet it's the most instrumental for shaping the personality and outlook of a young human being. Some parents are good teachers, that's their duty after all, though again only a small subset of parents are the true mentors worth their salt. Yet it's the school and then the university, that has enormous impact on us. Being a teenager means to find oneself in a constant, continuous trauma of discovery, where all kinds of events and situations force us to make decisions, to make judgments, to distinguish the right from the wrong, and last but not least, what to do with one's life.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Read Nov. 28 2001
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is the story of an eccentric, unorthodox teacher at a private school in Scotland. The story's action centers around the title character's dealings and connivings with six of her favorite students who acquire the collective title "The Brodie Set". In the story the reader becomes privy to how Miss Brodie deals with these six students collectively and individually, the administration of the school at which she teaches, and her various romantic interests.
The book is a celebrated work, and one has to wonder why this is so. Certainly, the character of Miss Jean Brodie is initially interesting; here we have an opinionated, sexually liberated woman at a stodgy Scottish prep school in the early 20th century. To be sure, Miss Brodie would be much more interesting if the book had been written at the time of its setting, rather than in 1961; a character such as she would be much more likely to exist in the 60's. As the story proceeds, however, she become something of a bore, and that is probably just as well, since the focus of the story eventually shifts from Miss Brodie to a particular student of hers.
Interesting to this reviewer are the passages describing what eventually becomes of Miss Brodie's students. Some of these passages occur quite early in the story, as does the revelation of Miss Bridie's betrayer. Hence, the reader may infer that the author intends for the story to be something other than a whodunit mystery, with the reader trying to figure out who betrayed Miss Brodie and how.
The story lacks tension, and is, therefore, not an exciting read. So, we are not to be blamed for asking why this story is so celebrated. I must admit that, despite all of the shortcomings I have thus far discussed, I enjoyed the book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 27 days ago by Cutlets
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely classic
Saw this book mentioned as a 'Must read classic' Definitely enjoyed the mysterious element while reading a sort of coming-of-age story.
Published 11 months ago by Amelianna R
4.0 out of 5 stars The Complex and Enigmatic Miss Brodie
I enjoyed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and would definitely recommend it. At first, I thought it would be a charming coming-of-age story about a group of privileged girls and... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2011 by M. Daniel
4.0 out of 5 stars Slim Masterpiece
I couldn't help by shake my head and marvel after finishing The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Not only are the characters superb, the story is great and the writing uniquely... Read more
Published on March 14 2010 by Harrison Koehli
3.0 out of 5 stars A coy bit of Spark-le
The problem with this book is that it's so gnomic. That is, its compact style and size are, I suppose, purposefully wrought in this way so that we may come away asking ourselves... Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2002 by Daniel Myers
4.0 out of 5 stars The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The story is of a spinsterish teacher at an all girls school in Scotland. The action takes place through a series of flashbacks before and after World War II. Read more
Published on April 14 2002 by "cmerrell"
5.0 out of 5 stars Great coming of age story for girls
It's with a sense of real wistfullness that I remember this book. I am going to order another copy to relive the sense of interest and joy that I recall the first book inducing in... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars A Weak Novel of Manners
I'm astounded by all the applause this book's been getting. This book is well-written, but it lacks tension, humour, and anything resembling a plot. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2001 by Sai Li
3.0 out of 5 stars unique, but with many weaknesses
The good points: an interesting story, which is at basic about a woman with a powerful and magnetic personality who used young girls to meet her own unmet personal needs - a... Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2001 by Daniel Mackler
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