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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie [Hardcover]

Muriel Spark
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 19.56 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

May 1 1998
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely classic Nov. 22 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Saw this book mentioned as a 'Must read classic' Definitely enjoyed the mysterious element while reading a sort of coming-of-age story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Complex and Enigmatic Miss Brodie Jan. 4 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 their adoring teacher. It is, in fact, much more complex and enigmatic than that. It takes place in 1930s Edinburgh, between the two world wars. The rise of Fascism in Europe serves as a historical backdrop as well as a parallel to Miss Brodie's attempts to control the lives of others.

Spark shows us how the older generation has been marked by WWI (Miss Brodie lost her fiancé, Mr. Lloyd lost his arm, and many of the teachers seem to be hardened by life and suffering). In contrast to some of the other teachers and the headmistress, Miss Brodie is a passionate woman; she is a great believer in art, music, and is full of romantic notions that she seeks to impress upon her chosen students. However, Miss Brodie has a dark, manipulative, self-centered side as well. She seeks to influence her clique of students to do her bidding and this leads to her ultimate undoing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slim Masterpiece March 14 2010
By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER
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 insightful. Also, the novel is so cleverly and masterfully written. From the first pages you are taken in by its fugue-like structure. I've never read a book like it, where past and present fuse into one, as if the narrator is dipping in and out of time to present a perfectly cogent story not hindered by the rules of causality. Future events are casually revealed, descriptions are repeated as if musical motifs, and yet the plot moves inexorably to its inevitable conclusion. In the end you are left enriched by the lives of Miss Jean Brodie and her set, by their idiosyncrasies, failures, highs and lows. And it's short enough to read in a sitting or two, to boot!
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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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3.0 out of 5 stars A coy bit of Spark-le Oct. 12 2002
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 profound questions on the meaning of a mentor/student relationship, social hierarchies, art, betrayal, pedagogy etc. It's, you know, like the kind of thing you get from an old white-bearded yogi sitting on the top of some Himmalayan mountain: "The crow flies in square circles."-Now, what's the meaning of life?
The problem with this type of book is that it never takes the time (or Spark doesn't)to grab hold of your heart and mind for long enough to make you care about the deeper questions involved (and they are clearly there). Rather, it flits around like some intriguing butterfly on a lazy afternoon and then just as quickly hovers out of sight.
In other words, Spark and the book are too coy by half. You forget about the lilting butterfly by nightfall.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
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 An ingenious little book
"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... Read more
Published on April 8 2002
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
3.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Read
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is the story of an eccentric, unorthodox teacher at a private school in Scotland. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2001 by Douglas Morgan
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
3.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAINING BUT SLIGHT
Think of yourself as a 10 year old in the environment of a stagnated, uniformed, processed school for girls in the 1930's. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2001 by Sesho
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