Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The French in Spark : Muriel Spark’s fruitful misreading of Baudelaire, Proust and the nouveau Roman Groves, Robyn 1980

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1980_A8 G76.pdf [ 4.13MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0094898.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0094898-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0094898-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0094898-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0094898-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0094898-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0094898-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0094898-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0094898.ris

Full Text

THE FRENCH IN SPARK: MURIEL SPARK'S FRUITFUL MISREADING OF BAUDELAIRE, PROUST AND THE NOUVEAU ROMAN B.A. The University of Adelaide, 1973. A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Comparative L i t e r a t u r e We accept t h i s thesis as conforming by Robyn Groves to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l 1980 Robyn Groves, 1980 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C olumbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia 2075 Wesbrook P l a c e Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date " ^ X 3E-6 BP 75-5 1 I E Abstract There are three phases i n Muriel Spark's career as a w r i t e r of Catholic s u r r e a l i s t s a t i r e . Each of these stages r e p l i e s to a s p e c i f i c w riter, and to an i d e n t i f i a b l e period within the French l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n . Each stage marks a s i g n i f i c a n t s h i f t i n the development of Spark's n o v e l i s t i c s k i l l s . In my introductory chapter, I consider her work i n the 1950's— both poetry and p r o s e — w r i t t e n i n response to a reading of Baudelaire. Her two major pieces i n Collected Poems I—"The Ballad of the Fanfarlo" and "The N a t i v i t y " — b o t h incorporate and reply to Baudelaire's youthful short story, "La Fanfarlo." In her poetry, she takes an astringent, c l a s s i c a l p o s i t i o n which denounces, as she considered Baudelaire had done, the f a l s e values of Romanticism. In 1953, her f i r s t published', short story, "The Seraph and the Zambesi," which again has Baudelaire's characters as i t s cast, marks her f i n a l response to the French w r i t e r , whose influence has overshadowed her t r a n s i t i o n from poet to prose wr i t e r . From the body of h i s work, she extracted h i s method of l o c a t i n g i d e a l correspondences between objects and people, which provides the i i i i n i t i a l impulse for a p r i n c i p l e which i s to underlie her mature p r o s e — "the t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of the commonplace." From 1953 u n t i l the mid-sixties, Spark wrote a series of novels based on a provocative misreading of Proust's A l a Recherche du Temps Perdu. To her i n t e r e s t i n and a p p l i c a t i o n of, Baudelaire's correspondences, she added Proust's technique f o r extracting the essences of objects, people and moments. She was fascinated with the dual p o s s i b i l i t i e s of " s a t i r e " and "ex a l t a t i o n " i n his handling of metaphor. In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The G i r l s of Slender Means and The Hothouse by the East River, she fashions her tr a n s f i g u r i n g techniques into a conceptual and narrative framework which w i l l encompass a l l of her f i c t i o n a l i ntentions: a l l e g o r i c a l , s a t i r i c a l and transcendental. She c a l l e d t h i s construction "a time and landscape of the mind." ? Since 1970, Spark has been inc r e a s i n g l y influenced by the French Nouveau Roman. Between The Pu b l i c Image (1968) and T e r r i t o r i a l Rights (1979), her mental times and a l l e g o r i c a l landscapes have s h i f t e d from actual places—Edinburgh, London and New York—and s p e c i f i c times i n hi s t o r y , to disembodied landscapes of the mind. Her increasing r e l i a n c e on form rather than v e r i s i m i l i t u d e , has made p a r t i c u l a r use of A l a i n Robbe-G r i l l e t ' s techniques for manipulating space and time. Spark's novel, The Driver's Seat (1970), can be read as a reply to Robbe-Grillet's Les Gommes (1953), incorporating e s p e c i a l l y h i s elimination of the poetic and metaphysical referents from n a r r a t i v e . With the elim i n a t i o n of these elements, her novels become exclus i v e l y concerned with language as the purest a l l e g o r i c a l "landscape" f o r modern consciousness. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract * 1 Introduction 1 Chapter One • 4 Chapter Two 20 Chapter Three 5 5 Endnotes ?4 Bibliography 84 INTRODUCTION Muriel Spark began her l i t e r a r y career i n the years a f t e r the Second World War as a poet. She t r i e d to compress her already e l l i p t i c a l view of the world into imagery which would both s a t i r i z e and transcend the commonplace. Her f i r s t attempts at metaphorical transformation were orthodox, incorporating a balance of poetry and metaphysic. A subsequent reading of Baudelaire, as i t coincided with her conversion to Roman Catholicism, provided both a prose model and a hierarchy of ideas on which she could base her f i r s t short s t o r i e s and novellas. Spark adapted Baudelaire's "correspondances" to her own formula of the "t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of the commonplace", so devising an early form of "magic realism" to f a c i l i t a t e her "psychic a l l e g o r i e s . " Her f i c t i o n incorporated s a t i r e , allegory, metaphysics and a highly polished, orna-mental s t y l e which linked these disparate elements i n epigrammatic fashion. Immediately before writing her f i r s t novel, The, Comforters,, Spark read Proust's A l a Recherche du Temps Perdu. From i t she extracted his technique f o r making metaphor e s s e n t i a l and timeless, i d e n t i f y i n g 1 2 and adapting the two elements of h i s p r o c e s s — s a t i r e and e x a l t a t i o n . She applied them to her two simultaneous referents for metaphor—Art and God. She responded to Proust's idea that "1'esprit a ses paysages" by devising a "time and landscape of the mind" to serve as an a l l e g o r i c a l framework for a l l of her mature f i c t i o n . Her t r a n s f i g u r i n g metaphors became large-scale conceits, and i n the process became incr e a s i n g l y s u r r e a l i s t i c , i n the sense i n which Angus Fletcher r e f e r s to the sur-r e a l i s t school i n twentieth century a r t and l e t t e r s : i t implies obsessional and dream imagery, unexpected and even shocking c o l l o c a t i o n s of heterogeneous objects, psychological emblems (usually Freudian), hyperdefinite draftsmanship, d i s t o r t i o n s of perspective--with a l l these working together to produce enigmatic combinations of materials . . . Objects quite " r e a l " i n themselves become "non-real", i . e . , s u r r e a l , by v i r t u e of t h e i r mutual i n t e r r e l a t i o n s , or rather t h e i r apparent lack of r a t i o n a l i n t e r r e l a t i o n when combined within single frames. This d e l i b e r a t e l y enigmatic, teasing, strange s t y l e i s to be found . . . i n early a l l e g o r i e s as w e l l . l Spark took, i n her imagery, increasing l i b e r t i e s with n a r r a t i v e per-spective, temporal continuity, and f i n a l l y , under the influence of the French Nouveau Roman, with s p a t i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . A l l e g o r i z e d city-scapes were gradually replaced by i n t e r i o r s — r o o m s and decor as they r e f l e c t the disembodied landscape of modern consciousness. In her l a t e s t works she i s e x c l u s i v e l y concerned with landscape as "the mind's eye" might perceive i t . Muriel Spark makes p a r t i c u l a r use of the "cinematic" technique of A l a i n Robbe-Grillet, as her novels become increasingly r e f i n e d f o r -mal constructions. The metaphysical dimension has been eliminated from 3 her fictions, which have become verbal topographic constructions rather than psychic or metaphysical explorations. Spark's literary career embodies an oblique but productive mis-reading of a series of major French writers. She seems to have made use of the stages in the development of French literary sensibility, as much as the works of individual authors, in creating her small elegant fictions, which anglicized some of the most significant turnings in another literary tradition. CHAPTER ONE Long before she wrote b e s t - s e l l i n g minor novels, Muriel Spark was a p r a c t i s i n g c r e a t i v e parodist i n her poems. A f t e r reading Baudelaire's "La Fanfarlo" i n 1951, she produced i n oblique but in s p i r e d reaction, two long poems, one ac t u a l l y c a l l e d "The Ball a d of the Fanfarlo" and the other, "The N a t i v i t y " . "The Fanfarlo" also i n s p i r e d a highly experi-mental piece of short f i c t i o n which was to make her name as a prose 2 writer: "The Seraph and the Zambesi". Spark's response to Baudelaire was based on an imaginative misread-ing: a s e l e c t i v e and i d i o s y n c r a t i c appropriation of poetic elements from the French writer's formative text at a p e c u l i a r l y formative stage i n her own career. Harold Bloom, i n The Anxiety of Influence and A Map of Misreading, puts forward a theory of l i t e r a r y influence based on p r e c i s e l y t h i s kind of misreading: Influence, as I conceive i t , means that there are no texts, but only r e l a t i o n s h i p s between texts. These r e l a t i o n s h i p s depend upon a c r i t i c a l act, a misreading or misprision, that one poet performs upon another, and that does not d i f f e r i n kind from the necessary c r i t i c a l acts performed by every strong reader upon every text he encounters. The i n f l u e n c e - r e l a t i o n governs writing, and reading i s therefore a mis-writing j u s t as writing i s a misreading.3 4 5 A misreading then involves "an act of cre a t i v e c o r r e c t i o n that i s 4 ac t u a l l y and ne c e s s a r i l y a mis i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . " Although Spark's i s an extreme misreading of Baudelaire, even by Bloom's standards, i t i s nonetheless true that, as she considered her long poem to be a r e v i s i o n or c r e a t i v e c r i t i c a l commentary on her predecessor's work, her response f a l l s within Bloom's anxious category of "influence". Baudelaire i n -fluenced Spark to write as she did. Bloom goes on to argue that strong poets are able to "c l e a r imagina-t i v e space for themselves" i n the process of misreading one another.^ Spark read Baudelaire at the time she was considering writing prose instead of poetry, and considering Catholic conversion from a p o s i t i o n of free-lance agnosticism. This point of convergence made up the "imagina-t i v e space" which she allowed Baudelaire's text to occupy. She used the text as a point of focus and as a point of departure. When Spark read and r e p l i e d to "La Fanfarlo", she was angry at the f a l s e l y transcendental posturing of some young neo-Romantic poets, among them Dylan Thomas, i n England, a f t e r the war and on into the 1950's. In a se r i e s of poems i n her f i r s t volume, Collected Poems I, she c a l l e d t h e i r p e rsonality "cult-making", "Delphic i n s a n i t y " and "Drunkenness and discrepancy". She approved of Baudelaire's prose piece because she saw i t as an expose of the f a l s e l y Romantic: as a piece of " c l a s s i c a l thought" set against a Romantic background. In fac t "La Fanfarlo" i s set i n " l e bon temps du romanticisme".^ Spark sees Baudelaire's c e n t r a l figure, Samuel Cramer, as a fragmented p o r t r a i t of the Romantic a r t i s t 6 as Byronic cartoon: as b i z a r r e l y lacking, but not without redeeming features. . . . tenebreuse, bariolee de v i f s e c l a i r s — p a r e s s e u s e et entreprenante a l a f o i s , — f e c o n d e en desseins d i f f i c i l e s et en r i s i b l e s avortements.. . . i l e t a i t a l a f o i s tous l e s a r t i s t e s q u ' i l avait l u s , et cependant, en depit de cette f a c u l t e comedienne, r e s t a i t profondement o r i g i n a l . 8 Baudelaire gives him an alter-ego, which he claims from time to time. It i s the feminine Spanish pseudonym, Manuela de Montaverde. Under i t he has published h i s only work to date—"Les O r f r a i e s " : " r e c e u i l de sonnets, comme nous avons tous f a i t s et tous lus dans l e temps ou nous 9 avions l e jugement s i court et l e s cheveux s i longs." Cramer i s a double-man, " l e produit c o n t r a d i c t o i r e d'un bleme Allemand et d'une brune Chilienne":"^ a man with a b u i l t - i n a l i a s . Thomas Mann provided Tonio Kroger with the same kind of contradictory a r t i s t ' s lineage: "Consuelo . . . a dark f i e r y mother who played the piano" and a " d i g n i f i e d " and "respectable" German father."'""'" Cramer's choices are always double-edged and he f l u c t u a t e s awkwardly between them, as between his women, who embody the two contradictory fantasies of the f a i l e d Romantic. Madame de Cosmelly i s both p h y s i c a l l y and s p i r t u a l l y " l a femme comme i l faut". She i s the f l e s h i e r , older version of the young country g i r l Cramer had 12 loved when she had been "un roman d'une jeunesse." She i s , at the time of t h e i r reunion, chaste, t e a r f u l and spurned by her husband. Baudelaire makes of her a composite parody of feminine Romantic por-t r a i t u r e . La Fanfarlo, on every inch of whom Baudelaire dwells, i s 1Q he showgirl with whom Cram r becomes bsessed. She s " l a femme betise", 7 14 "brutale, commune, denue du gout." She i s nonetheless, " l a reine du l i e u " , ^ ^ "une des plus b e l l e s femmes que l a nature ont formees pour 16 l a p l a i s i r des yeux." She i s unmistakably f u l l of that "charme s i magique (que) l e v i c e aureole-t-.il certaines creatures.""^ This i s Samuel Cramer's supporting cast, h i s set of creations. As an " a r t i s t e manque""^ and a " j o u r n a l i s t e m o r d a n t e " , h e i s mostrredeemed when these "creations," these scattered aspects of h i s i d e n t i t y , "conV-pose" him. It i s a r t i n reverse. He i s most a man, for example, when the lustrous Fanfarlo develops a taste f o r him. Samuel voulut ouvrir l a Fenetre pour j e t e r un coup d ' o e i l de vainqueur sur l a v i l l e maudite; puis abaissant son regard sur l e s diverses f e l i c i t e s q u ' i l avait a cote de l u i , i l se hata d'en j o u i r . En compagnie de p a r e i l l e s choses, i l devait etre eloquent.20 At the end of h i s story Baudelaire turns h i s showgirl, the Fanfarlo into the homely and fecund mother of twins, so incorporating her into Cramer's new-found r e s p e c t a b i l i t y i n middle age. He writes a handful of pseudo-s c i e n t i f i c texts with forgettable t i t l e s , and competes f or public honours. In the process, the poetic alter-ego, Manuela, has also been s a c r i f i c e d to secure the moderate success of h i s a l i a s . Montaverde, i n reaction, takes up p o l i t i c s , founding a s l i g h t l y disreputable s o c i a l i s t j o u r n a l . 21 "II est tombe bas." Such i s Baudelaire's youthfully i r o n i c fable of the Romantic a r t i s t : h i s absurd compromises, h i s peripheral accomplishments based on psychic delusion and i n t o x i c a t i o n of the senses. I t i s to the "s t r a t e romanesque", where l i f e and art p e r s i s t e n t l y overlap, "delicatement enlevee, l a v i e reparait"," which Spark perceived in the text, to which she formulated her reply. Spark takes Baudelaire's opening sentence as her poem's epigram. Samuel Cramer, who at one time—in the hey-day of Romanticism—among other Romantic follies had signed himself by the name of Maneula de Monteverde, is the contradictory offspring of a pale German father and a brown Chilean mother.2^ She makes Baudelaire's twice-born hero two-faced, and the focus of her poem. She has him a lying Romantic, whose exotic genealogy, she reduces to "brown marrow" in "white bone". London, not Paris, is her "ville maudite" and she sets out to establish that its artists' ego-cults are as foolish as the idea of Byzantium come to Kensington. In Spark's poem, Cramer is merely a powerless mouthpiece. His asser tions are far more interesting and powerful than he is. He claims that he can command both Montaverde, the poet—his "heart's fame (and) praise" and the beautiful Fanfarlo as his mistress. In a scenario worthy of "The Wasteland," Spark leaves no doubt that these figures are Romantic delusions, and that Cramer is a demented imposter. 25 In place of Baudelaire's lavishly described "nuits dores" in shimmering wicked Paris, Spark substitutes a "tremorous metropolis", with a "settlement of fever" over i t , "the smell of gas . . . the taste of withered cress" and a "visible air of metropolitan yellow." The aesthetic centre of Baudelaire's poem had been the Fanfarlo's boudoir. . . . encombree de choses molles, parfumees et dangereuses a toucher, l'air charge de miasmes bizarres, donnait ^ envie de mourir lentement comme dans une serre chaude. 9 There is a hint of Montaverde in the room's "volupte espagnole", "un ton violent mais equivoque", "des chairs tres blanches sur des fonds tres noirs. "Spark replaces this centre with its sensuous focus, with the psychic and physical void of the "No Man's Sanatorium" where Cramer is taken for an exploratory operation to see precisely what he is made of. Here his claims to the exotic, to his talent and to his birth-right are negated by unknown surgeons and interrogators. In an antiseptic ward, Spark gives a voice and the last traces of Montaverde's personality to a steel chair. Cramer falls victim to "the ether bowl" and the " l i t t l e keen knife", and succumbs to an anaesthetic sleep. On investigation of his "feverish heart", they said "He is No Man that we know". Spark concludes that the Romantic artist is a l i e : merely one version of non-existence. In the convalescent ward of the No Man's Sanatorium, Cramer meets others possessed by their alter-egos, a l l designated—Manuela de Montaverde. Each of them worships his self-appointed chosen image in blasphemous terms. The soldier, the scholar and the industrialist a l l worship their respec-tive "selves". They a l l claim to glorify Manuela de Montaverde and enjoy him forever precisely as the Presbyterian Catechism decrees that God shall be wor-shipped and enjoyed forever. In the name of their alter-egos, the mummified, blinded patients in the ward do battle with one another, trying to eliminate a l l but their own ego. 10 And I suppose, so long as I remember The glory of man each man w i l l g l o r i f y Man and destroy him forever. Baudelaire had transcendent s e n s u a l i t y — g l i t t e r i n g , loveless s e x — at the centre of h i s prose piece. The heart of Spark's poem i s a death-less b a t t l e for s i g n i f i c a n c e by the h a l f - a l i v e . Love and Death are the absent centres i n each case^ and can be seen i n some kind of equilibrium based on t h e i r author's intentions. Spark's dramatic message i s based on a s i m p l i s t i c and not e n t i r e l y focussed reading of Baudelaire's story. Classicism, she suggests, i s some kind of health, and Romanticism c l e a r l y indicates disease. Cramer, i n Spark's poem, c l e a r l y believes himself to be strong and healthy. "I wander the metropolis / In the good year of my prime." In f a c t , as an observer t e l l s him—"I see you are a man with a fever on you / i n the middle of your time." Cramer has ar r i v e d at a c l i m a c t e r i c of the s p i r i t . He i s emotionally middle-aged, s p i r i t u a l l y f e v e r i s h , and s t i l l a c ting as though he i s "dans l e bon temps du Roman-ticisme." He has become "one of time's laughing stocks." In the awkward t h i r d section of Spark's poem, Cramer faces Manuela, the Fanfarlo and Death, asking each of them i n turn to take him away: to provide him with a means of peaceful s e l f - e x t i n c t i o n , "A way to depart i n peace." None of them knows how t h i s peace i s come by. Manuela exists i n "a limbo of sympathy", the Fanfarlo i n a "limbo of a g i t a t i o n " . Death i s prepared only to o f f e r non-existence, not peace. "The terms of departure i n the peace treaty" Said Death, "According to our annals Provide for the proper mortality Only through the proper channels." 11 Death can o f f e r merely "a staple amnesia / That leeches to the p i t h . " Spark c l e a r l y argues i n th i s poem for. "the proper channels", that: i s , the C h r i s t i a n f a i t h , as the only way to avoid f a l s e s i g n i f i c a n c e on the one hand, and e x t i n c t i o n on the other. It alone guarantees f a i t h . As an ambivalent act of aff i r m a t i o n , as the l e a s t he can do, Cramer rejec t s Death's o f f e r of amnesia. He claims, as a poet, the r i g h t to know and name the world of phenomena. "I c a l l you a l l " c r i e d Samuel Cramer "To witness my treachery If I contracted the f a l s e pact That was offered me t h i s day. And when the hawk s h a l l creep i n the earth and hogs nest i n the sun, Then I ' l l forget the prime estate Of a l l things I have known. When the l i z a r d mates with Pegasus And the lynx l i e s with the r a t , Then I ' l l forget the black and the bright, The high d e l i g h t and the low, Manuela de Montaverde and the dancing Fanfarlo." Death withdraws, admitting that i t has c a l l e d at an inconvenient time, and the three characters i n the poem are l e f t i n an unredeemed state. Nonetheless, Cramer has refused an o f f e r of e x t i n c t i o n i n l i e u of peace. This must be taken as some kind of q u a l i f i e d C h r i s t i a n response. He had declared himself "as f i t a man for Heaven As I am for H e l l i n my b e l i e f . " " I ' l l not go to a limbo" c r i e d Samuel Cramer, . . . And I have been gagged and riv e n For nothing le s s than to go i n peace To H e l l or to Heaven." 12 This bad and d i f f i c u l t poem has marked a s i g n i f i c a n t t r a n s i t i o n point i n Muriel Spark's l i t e r a r y career, from C h r i s t i a n poet to write r of s u r r e a l i s t prose. I t i s not d i f f i c u l t to see why a reading of Baudelaire -coincided so e f f e c t i v e l y with Spark's simultaneous formula-t i o n of a r e l i g i o u s code and an a r t i s t i c basis of operations. Enid Starkie has written that T. S. E l i o t , another C h r i s t i a n , a l b e i t a far superior poet to Muriel Spark, was attracted to "the r e l i g i o u s aspect of Baudelaire's poetry, to h i s s p i r i t u a l i t y and h i s revulsion against 27 sins, of the f l e s h . " In Selected Essays, E l i o t says of Baudelaire: I t i s not merely the use of imagery of common l i f e , not merely i n the use of the imagery of the sordid l i f e of a great metropolis, but the elevation of such imagery to the f i r s t i n t e n s i t y — p r e s e n t i n g i t as i t i s , and yet making i t represent something much more than i t s e l f — t h a t Baudelaire has created a mode of release and express-ion for other men.28 In 1922, i n h i s essay on the French poet c a l l e d "The Lesson of Baudelaire", E l i o t wrote: A l l f i r s t - r a t e poetry i s occupied with morality. That i s the lesson of Baudelaire. As for (English) verse of the present time, the lack of c u r i o s i t y i n technical matters of the academic poets of today i s only an i n d i c a t i o n of t h e i r lack of c u r i o s i t y i n moral matters. 2^ Muriel Spark was c e r t a i n l y endowed with t h i s c u r i o s i t y . I f , as appears l i k e l y , she read E l i o t ' s and Starkie's c r i t i c i s m of Baudelaire, she would have found there reference to those elements i n the French writer's art to which she responded i n such an oblique but e f f e c t i v e fashion. By the time she wrote "The Seraph and the Zambesi", l a t e i n 1951, Spark was a converted Catholic, and Cramer had become a far more blase creation. 13 He was the same man, but modified. For instance, i n those days more than a hundred years ago, Cramer had persisted for several decades, and without a f f e c t a t i o n , i n being about twenty-five years old.30 In Spark's prose sequel, "he was c l e a r l y undergoing h i s forty-two year old phase." He had at t h i s time come to a tacky end. His muse, Manuela, and h i s mistress, the Fanfarlo, had married, disregarding him, though along with him, making up a sordid l i t t l e group of e x p a t r i a t e s — i n both place and t i m e — i n the middle of A f r i c a . Cramer now operates the p e t r o l pump near the Zambesi River at the V i c t o r i a F a l l s . He occasionally takes i n guests during Christmas week when the hotel i s f u l l . He has given up the practices of both verse and b e l l e s - l e t t r e s "together with the l i v i n g up to such p r a c t i c e s " , i n favour of L i f e . He writes only occasional verse when occasion demands i t . "The greatest l i t e r a t u r e i s the occasional kind, a mere afterthought" he says. In keeping with t h i s s p i r i t , he has written a N a t i v i t y Masque, for the Fanfarlo, her dancing g i r l s , and assorted natives to present on Christmas Eve. Cramer, as the F i r s t Seraph, i s to have the longest speeches, and Mannie de Montaverde, "owing to (his) very broken English, . . . had been given a s i l e n t r o l e as a shepherd, supported by three other shepherds chosen for l i k e reasons". The Fanfarlo, Mme La Fanfarlo (Paris, London) Dancing Instructress. B a l l e t . Ballroom. Transport provided by Arrangement was to give a "representative b a l l e t performance" as the V i r g i n , while her pupils were to make up an "angel chorus with carols and dancing." Bickering about the cost of the production, and some necessary b u l l y i n g 14 of the natives had preceded the event. In an exquisite parody of Baudelairean d e t a i l , Spark describes, through her u n i d e n t i f i e d narrator, Cramer's heat-bedraggled t h e a t r i c a l . The performance was set to begin at eight. I arr i v e d behind the stage at seven-fifteen to find the angels assembled i n dresses with wings of cr i n k l e d paper i n various shades. The Fanfarlo wore a long transparent s k i r t with a sequin top. I was helping to f i x on the Wise Men's beards when I saw Cramer. He had on a toga-1 l i k e garment made up of several thicknesses of mosquito-net, but not thick enough to hide h i s white shorts underneath. He had put on his make-up early, and t h i s was melting on h i s face i n the r i s i n g heat . . . I was intent on helping the Fanfarlo to paint her g i r l s ' faces. I t seemed impossible. As fast as we l i f t e d the s t i c k s of paint they turned to l i q u i d . I t was r e a l l y getting abnormally hot. The production i s subverted once and for a l l by the appearance of an actual Seraph of the Lord, come to put Cramer i n h i s place. Spark's Seraph i s a fin e study i n "magic realism", and her f i r s t attempt to incorporate the surr e a l and the transcendent into her new prose narrative form. The Seraph, a pious and p r i g g i s h creature, had come to dismiss t h i s tawdry night-club a f f a i r . Cramer t r i e s to b u l l y the angel, as he would a native. " — t h i s i s my show" continued Cramer. "Since when?" the Seraph, s a i d . "Right from the s t a r t " . Cramer breathed at him. "Well i t ' s been mine from the Beginning" said the Seraph "and the Beginning began f i r s t . " With that, the b u i l d i n g burned to the ground, i n what seems to have been a pedantic act of repudiation by the Seraph. If the Seraph had stood for no more than t h i s , then Spark's story would have amounted to no more than a b i b l i c a l joke: a degraded parable about whether or not " i n v i n c i b l e ignorance" and blasphemous v u l g a r i t y should be punished; and about whether 15 an innocent and absurd, yet nonetheless sordid Christmas presentation, a t a s t e l e s s t r i b u t e by a c l u s t e r of shabby, f a i l e d a r t i s t e s outcast i n A f r i c a , constituted an adequate psychic a l l e g o r i z i n g for the modern celebration of Christmas. But the Seraph indicates much more. We are intended to take s e r i o u s l y the miraculous dimension which i t repre-sents. Spark has begun to transfigure her commonplaces. The Seraph i s something of a cartoon pedant, and at the same time, t o t a l l y super-n a t u r a l l y convincing. This was a l i v i n g body. The most noticeable thing was i t s constancy; i t seemed not to conform to the laws of perspective, but remained the same size when I approached as when I withdrew. And altogether, unlike other forms of l i f e , i t had a completed look. No part was undergoing a process; the o u t l i n e lacked the signs of confusion and ferment which are commonly the signs of l i v i n g things and t h i s was also the p r i n c i p l e of i t s beauty. The eyes took up nearly the whole of the head, extending far over the cheek bones. From the back of the head came two muscular wings, which from time to time folded themselves over the eyes, making a draught of scorching a i r . There was hardly any neck. Another p a i r of wings, tough and subtle, spread from below the shoulders, and a t h i r d p a i r extend-ed from the calves of the legs, appearing to sustain the body. The feet looked too f r a g i l e to bear up such a concentrated degree of being. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, i n h i s short story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" describes a remarkably s i m i l a r figure, which i s at once " f l e s h and blood" and nonetheless an angel. They both looked at the f a l l e n body with mute stupor. He was dressed l i k e a rag-picker. There were only a few faded h a i r s l e f t on h i s bald s k u l l and very few teeth i n hi s mouth, and his p i t i f u l condition of a drenched great grandfather had taken away any sense of grandeur he might have had. His huge buzzard wings, d i r t y and half-plucked, were forever entangled i n the mud. They looked at him so long and so c l o s e l y that Pelayo and Elisenda very 16 soon overcame t h e i r surprise and i n the end found him f a m i l i a r . Then they dared speak to him, and he answered i n an incomprehensible d i a l e c t with a strong s a i l o r ' s voice. That was how they skipped over the inconvenience of the wings and quite i n t e l l i g e n t l y concluded that he was a lonely castaway from some foreign ship wrecked by a storm.31 In both Spark's and Marquez' descriptions, any hint of irony or contempt i s undercut by a genuine sense of wonder at the mingling of supernatural p o s s i b i l i t i e s with the grotesquely ordinary. In Spark's nar r a t i v e , there i s something of an a r t i s t i c commentary i m p l i c i t i n the d e s c r i p t i o n as w e l l . The Seraph and the surr e a l trans-f i g u r a t i o n of d e t a i l which i t embodies, i s a bewitching and complete way of d i s p l a c i n g both Cramer and the f a l s e values of t r a d i t i o n a l a r t which he embodies, from the narrative focus. Spark i s s e t t i n g up a d i a l e c t i c a l model here, which she i s to develop throughout her career as a n o v e l i s t . It i s based on an oblique but t i g h t l y sustained tension between God and Art. She i s unwilling from t h i s point on, to consider one without the other. In t h i s she displays the d u a l i s t i c c u r i o s i t y i n technical and moral matters which T. S. E l i o t had spoken of. The key to Spark's narrative constructions i s the simultaneity with which she i s to consider these matters. She i s to r e l y on the surreal metaphor to transfigure and to infuse the actual with extraordinary s i g n i f i c a n c e , and the Seraph that comes to chastise Baudelaire's Cramer i n "The Seraph and the Zambesi" i s the f i r s t example of t h i s technique. Then I noticed that'.along the whole mile of the water-f a l l ' s crest the spray was r i s i n g higher than ususal. This I took to be steam from the Seraph's heat. I was r i g h t , for presently, by the mute flashes of summer l i g h t n i n g , we watched him r i d e the Zambesi away from us, among the rocks that looked l i k e crocodiles and the crocodiles that looked l i k e rocks. 17 Spark's final response to Baudelaire's "Fanfarlo" took the form 32 of a long poem "The Nativity". Cramer, the Fanfarlo and Montaverde appear as occupants of the inn from which the holy family was excluded. Cramer is a disgruntled guest, his reason for being there explained as "I've come for a story for my paper." "I thought there was going to be something big according to rumour." As Cramer in Baudelaire's prose piece had once masqueraded his intentions with the Fanfarlo by reviewing her cruelly in his newspaper, thereby guaranteeing an audience with her, so Spark presents her inauthentic hero only as a journalistic voyeur. In Spark's poem, Cramer is com-plaining to the Fanfarlo, who is the girl behind the desk at the inn, about bed-bugs. Outside is Montaverde, Cramer's former muse when he had been concerned with art, now a hunted murderer, sensationally tracked down to this point, and neatly coinciding with the imminent birth of Christ. "They think they've got him here. They say there's Blood on his shirt and they were three days combing The woods for him. A hot coming He had of i t I'm sure. Nothing happens, and Cramer becomes aware that he is wasting his time here, but the Fanfarlo dismisses him first. "Clear Out." "You anticipate me," said Samuel Cramer. "And pay before you go," said the Fanfarlo " I ' l l see you in Hell" said Samuel Cramer. He leaves disgruntled, having missed both the point and the occasion. His final comment, displays those qualities of ironic but fruitless aware-18 ness which we have come to expect from Spark's s p l i n t e r e d p o r t r a i t of Cramer as s u r r e a l l y dislocated d i l e t t a n t e . "There's a mooing and a bellowing going on In the c a t t l e shed beneath my window. You'd think a cow was having a dozen I f i t wasn't out of season. But i n this God-forsaken country anything could happen." Spark has turned Baudelaire's characters into bourgeois outcasts busy masquerading, complaining and evading the law: i n d i f f e r e n t wit-nesses at the s i t e , i f not the occasion, of the n a t i v i t y . They are part of the unruly crowd of humanity who carry on regardless. Cramer's c a l l i n g c a r d — h i s a r t i s t ' s awareness, however blighted by i n a u t h e n t i c i t y and lack of t a l e n t — h a s him as a paying guest at the inn, while h i s a l i a s , h i s Romantic alter-ego, i s hunted to the spot as a murderer, Montaverde's cr i m i n a l status reminds us of those murderous peripheral thieves, who i n t h e i r " legitimate" executions and th e i r broken humanity, q u a l i f i e d and humanized Christ's c r u c i f i x i o n . Cramer, as j o u r n a l i s t and f a i l e d a r t i s t , has come to record for the popular press, not the coming of the saviour of the world, but the pursuit, capture and e x t i n c t i o n of his own "other s e l f " — t h e poet, his "romantic f o l l y " . Spark's reply to Baudelaire, i n both poetry and prose, has been anti-transcendentalist. And what good's a God's eye view of Anyone to anyone But God? 3 3 From her reading of Baudelaire, however, she has deduced the only kind of transcendence she i s prepared to admit ex i s t s i n these godless times. 19 It is a surreal "transfiguration of the commonplace"; in Baudelairean terms i t could be included in the technique for elevating "the imagery of sordid l i f e . . . to the first intensity . . . presenting i t as i t 34 is, and yet making i t represent something much more than itself." She is to use Art to establish refracted significance in the commonplace. An inspired misreading of Proust is to further assist her refinement of a narrative formula based on the dualistic possibilities of Art and God. CHAPTER TWO MURIEL SPARK'S RESPONSE TO LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU: A TIME AND LANDSCAPE OF THE MIND. But the physical features of place surely had an e f f e c t as s p e c i a l as themselves on the outlook of the people. The Castle Rock i s something, r i s i n g up as i t does from pre-history between the formal grace of the New Town and the noble network of the old. To have a great p r i m i t i v e black crag r i s i n g up i n the middle of populated streets of commerce, s t a t e l y squares and winding closes, i s l i k e the statement of an unmitigated f a c t , preceded by "nevertheless". Muriel Spark L ' e s p r i t a ses paysages dont l a contemplation ne l u i est l a i s s e qu'un temps. Le Temps Retrouve Muriel Spark read Scott Moncrieff's t r a n s l a t i o n of A l a Recherche  du Temps Perdu immediately before w r i t i n g her f i r s t novel, The Comforters, i n 1953. In an a r t i c l e published i n the Church of England Newspaper i n November of that year , she c l a r i f i e d her c r i t i c a l i n t e r e s t i n Proust's epic. She c a l l e d the a r t i c l e "The R e l i g i o n of an Agnostic: A Sacra-mental View of the World i n the writings of Proust.""'" She goes on to define the Sacramental t r a d i t i o n i n l i t e r a t u r e , i n which she includes 20 21 h e r s e l f along with Proust, as "an idea that the v i s i b l e world i s an active economy of outward signs embodying each an inward grace . . . " [a] conception of matter that i s h i e r a r c h i c a l . " Spark argued that Proust had, through Art, embraced a " r e l i g i o n " that was both secular and aesthetic. At the heart of i t s transpositio n into l i t e r a t u r e was his technique for creating a sense of temporal transcendence through metaphor, while at the same time doing j u s t i c e to things as they were i n minute r e a l i s t i c d e s c r i p t i o n . She i s o l a t e d these moments of transcendent metaphor as the points of ultimate syn-thesis i n Proust's work, where a l l matter was rescued from time; where narrative was provided with a r t i s t i c design and saved from fragmentary i n s i g n i f i c a n c e . Spark saw t h i s h i g h l i g h t i n g of "essences" both as a useful pattern-ing device and as p o t e n t i a l l y providing the reader with a permanent anagogical measure, i f one wanted to equate essence with truth. She c a l l e d t h i s aesthetic of Proust's "pagan" and substituted her own C h r i s t i a n view of Art. She i s to base her own narratives on the kind of metaphoric notation suggested to her by Proust's transcendental method: "an acceptance of that deep irony i n which we are presented with the most u n l i k e l y people and places and things as r e p o s i t o r i e s of i n v i s i b l e grace . . . that outward and changing forms might be i n v i s i b l y and p e c u l i a r l y possessed, each a f t e r i t s own kind i n s p i r i t u a l embodiment." Spark's " t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n s " l o o s e l y follow Proust's model. They r e l y on "the moment out of time" and the metaphoric transmutation of 22 detail; on a concordance of idea, character and place; on a delicate balance of satirical realism and extraordinary significance. As a twentieth-century cynic, however, one as much influenced by the Nouveau Roman as by Proust, Muriel Spark is compelled to make of her trans-cendent moment, a surreal vacuum, based on the inevitable unreliability of human truths. Her perspective is relentlessly relativistic. This harsh view, with its curious overlay of "sacramental" faith in the autonomy and significance of people, places and objects, opens the door for her to introduce the surreal and the fabulous in her moments of fictional transcendence, as some kind of metaphorical solution to other-wise sordid and untenable twentieth-century living. Fiction to me is some kind of parable. You have got to make up your mind it's not true.^ Some kind of truth emerges from i t , but it's not fact. One of Spark's artistic axioms is that " i f fiction is not stranger than 3 truth then i t ought to be." Spark was intrigued with Proust's ability to satirize and to elevate "to the first intensity" at the same time. She perceived this technique as yielding a kind of ironic simultaneity, one which answered the double referents of Art and Eternity. In one gesture he was able to satirize his monsters immersed in Time . . . in the flesh, by the same method that here exalts their essence, under that aspect of eternity which is also an aspect of art. For Art and eternity Spark firmly substitutes Art and God. She replaces Proust's elaboration on memory as the supremely redeeming and transcending 23 force, with one based on moments of u n l i k e l y C h r i s t i a n grace. In her novels God i s the measure of time and experience. She i d i o s y n c r a t i c a l l y extends t h i s assumption to include the supernatural and the extraordinary i n the documentary presentation of time, thus f o r c i b l y dislodging the reader and disrupting conventional chronology. In her novels, she i n -corporates a s l i d i n g surrealism with unexpected moments of transcendence through l a t e r a l time s h i f t s , synchronic puns, cinematic flashbacks and wild glimpses into the future. By these means, she can " s a t i r i z e " and " e x a l t " simultaneously, thus r e c o n c i l i n g her a r t i s t i c and metaphysical intentions. Proust had taken up the medieval idea, at i t s r i c h e s t i n Dante's Divine Comedy, that the v i s i b l e might be read as a kind of text i n i t s e l f . This idea contributed to Muriel Spark's intense and expanded use of metaphor, where an e n t i r e novella can be one elaborately crafted con-c e i t . . I t suggested above a l l , the joined p o s s i b i l i t i e s of surrealism and metaphor as the necessary, the only conceivable, d i a l e c t i c a l elements i n creating transcendence i n modern f i c t i o n ; and i t suggested one narrative structure which might adequately fuse them—"a time and landscape of the mind." In an awkward f u l l - l e n g t h novel written i n mid-career, Spark attempted her most "Proustian" designs. The novel f a i l s , but not because of them. The Mandelbaum Gate has i t s heroine make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to recover and reconstruct her i d e n t i t y from her own past and from the i d e a l i z e d B i b l i c a l past she sees embodied i n the landscape. In the 24 attempt, Barbara Vaughan i s caught between times and landscapes pre-c i s e l y as she i s caught between f a i t h s . One set of circumstances i s paradigm for the other. Only i n the t o t a l i t y i s her composite i d e n t i t y redeemable, and transcendent, coherent f a i t h conceivable: Barbara on the summit of Mount Tabor, conscious of the Holy Land stretching to i t s boundaries on every side, r e f l e c t e d wearily on her r e f l e c t i o n s . . . she thought, my mind i s impatient to escape from i t s c o n s t i t u t i o n and reach i t s point somewhere e l s e . But that i s i n e t e r n i t y at the point of t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n . In the meantime . . . memory c i r c u l a t e s l i k e the bloodstream. May mine c i r c u l a t e well, may i t bring dead facts to l i f e , may i t bring health to whatever i s to be born . . . She had a sense of temporal displacement . . . the end of Lent 1939 . . There follows a v i r t u a l paradigm, a l b e i t unsuccessful, for Proustian manipulation of metaphor, as Spark chose to adhere to i t . She "de-a c t u a l i z e s " sensory information, breaking down the separateness of objects as i f from s o l i d to l i q u i d . She then " t r a n s f i g u r e s " d e t a i l and relocates i t harmoniously within a predetermined hierarchy of actual and poetic experience. She melts together time, place and the i n d i v i d u a l i t y of the senses. D e t a i l s run into one another, transfigured by memory u n t i l they constitute new wholes, new units of experience, described i n a tense that i s timeless. Their basis i s poetic rather.than actual. . . . Lent . . . 1939 . . . The lawn lay b e a u t i f u l as e t e r n i t y .. . . the warmth of the spring oozed i n through the French windows as i f the glass were porous . . . the a i r was e l u s i v e l y threaded with the evidence of unseen hyacinths . . There was a s t i r i n the beech leaves l i k e papers being gently shuffled into order. The drawing i n of an English afternoon took place, with i t s f u g i t i v e sorrow. What follows i s a d e s c r i p t i o n of a remembered Passover feast that took place on the same day i n 1939. It i s at t h i s point that the sensory 25 d e t a i l i n the r e c o l l e c t i o n i s quickly drawn into sharp design. Spark patterns i t into a s i g n i f i c a t i o n of f a i t h . What might have remained actual time becomes, i n sensory t r a n s l a t i o n , r i t u a l time. F a i t h and the senses are made to in t e r s e c t and sustain one another, and a kind of c o n c e i t — t h a t of the f e a s t — i s constructed around them. The memory of the r i t u a l b ecomes the r i t u a l of memory, as Spark uses Proust's -. . technique for the re v e l a t i o n of essences to intercede between her characters and God. . . . on th i s night every morsel stood f o r something else, and was food as we l l . The c h i l d r e n drank wine and deliverance with i t . . . . the unleavened bread, c r i s p matzo that made crumbs everywhere, was uncovered. "This i s the poor bread which our fathers ate i n the land of Egypt:" Barbara's grandfather, who conducts the r i t u a l , seems at t h i s moment :.c- V . to be "unaging". . . . the room was. warm with mesmeric r i t u a l as much as with actual heat . . . here and now they were suddenly c h i l d r e n of I s r a e l . There's the human soul, the i n d i v i d u a l . Not 'Jew, Gentile' as one might say 'autumn, winter'. Something unique, unrepeatable. Spark has treated t h i s remembered occasion as an encapsulating moment i n the i d e n t i t y continuum. D e t a i l s are f l u i d within i t . I t i s what they s i g n i f y that matters. Proust on the other hand, treats the symbol as e s s e n t i a l l y s t a t i c , subject to i t s own laws and i n t e r n a l transmutations. I t i s the sheer k i n e t i c energy of Spark's symbolic treatment here which makes the incident coherent within the a l l e g o r i c a l structure of the novel: the pilgrimage i n search of i d e n t i t y . Her 26 pattern of correspondences, necessary for the a r r e s t i n g of time and for f i x i n g meaning to experience, i s nonetheless, i n accord with Proust's paradigm for recovering time. I t begins and ends with the transfigured landscape, both psychic and actual, i n which every s p a t i a l sensation corresponds to a s i m i l a r distance i n time. As both Dante and Proust had done, Spark maps psychic t e r r a i n to f i x material manifestations of grace. If you asked me how I remember the i s l a n d , what i t was l i k e to be stranded there by misadventure for nearly three months, I would answer that i t was a time and land-scape of the mind i f I did^not have the v i s i b l e signs to summon i t s m a t e r i a l i t y . A l l e g o r i c a l landscape provides the one, large harmonious design which Muriel Spark needed to provide an i n t e l l e c t u a l equivalent for aesthetic experience. Walter Benjamin suggests that allegory i s already a kind of con-ceptual primeval landscape."' In t h i s l i g h t , Spark's Edinburgh, London and New York, l i k e Proust's salons, Combray and Balbec, act as a l l e g o r i c a l v i s u a l surface for t h e i r works, providing the same kind of telescoping e f f e c t as can be seen i n medieval r e l i g i o u s paintings where none of the painting can be ignored.' For the suggestiveness and i n t e n s i t y of ambiguous metaphorical language allegory substitutes a sort of f i g u r a t i v e geometry.6 Narrative topography i s both psychic and ac t u a l , underlining the con-nection between the material world of the'senses and the imagined world beyond space and time. Viewed from Benjamin's i r o n i c a l perspective 27 Every person, every object, every r e l a t i o n s h i p can stand for something else. This t r a n s f e r a b i l i t y constitutes a devastating, though j u s t judgement on the profane world . . . D e t a i l s are transferable thus i n s i g n i f i c a n t . They are not banished from art . . . On the c o n t r a r y — p r e c i s e l y i n a r t — d e s c r i p t i v e d e t a i l i s often an e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y sensuous, suggestive power.7 Both Proust and Spark q u a l i f y as "modernist symbolists" i n t h e i r attempts to substitute for experience s t i l l points of r e v e l a t i o n which w i l l s truc-ture reader perception. Proust searches for a state of existence that embodies an "authentic present." Spark's transfigurations are, by comparison, hard, bright, witty and d u p l i c i t o u s . They convey a r b i t r a r y , s u r r e a l l y dislocated " b i t s of time" rather than portraying time as a continuum. These units of time and the non-temporal e x i s t both i n i n t e r i o r and s p a t i a l dimensions, which together make up the "landscape" of the f i c t i o n . Spark takes up Proust's use of closed image systems, or contained narrative worlds, i n her novels. I t i s i m p l i c i t i n the t e x t s — b o t h Spark's and P r o u s t ' s — t h a t the reader and author are i n " s t r u c t u r a l complicity" i n e s t a b l i s h i n g and accepting the paramaters of the f i c t i o n . I t i s understood, for example that Combray i s a closed universe . . . ( i t ) i s the v i s i o n shared by a l l the members of the family. A c e r t a i n order i s superimposed over a r e a l i t y and becomes ind i s t i n g u i s h a b l e from i t . The f i r s t symbol of Combray :". i s the magic lantern whose images take-•on.--.the shape of the objects on which they are projected and returned i n the same way to us by the wall of the room, the lamp-shades, and the doorknobs . . . Combray i s a closed culture . . . 'a l i t t l e closed world' the n o v e l i s t c a l l s i t . The gulf between Combray and the r e s t of the world i s on the l e v e l of perception. There i s the same c i r c u l a r v i s i o n , the same i n t e r n a l cohesion sanctioned by a system of r i t u a l gestureSg and words . . . a way of seeing, f e e l i n g , judging. 28 Sparks adapts t h i s narrative model for schematizing narrative informal t i o n , subject to her own s t y l i z e d and i d i o s y n c r a t i c laws of perspective. At the centre of her s l i g h t , oblique and s a t i r i c a l novels are care-f u l l y selected communities. She depicts with wit and i n e v i t a b i l i t y t h e i r minutely observed inhabitants, recording with r e l e n t l e s s accuracy the a b s u r d i t i e s of t h e i r speech, and the flaws and i n a n i t i e s of t h e i r public and private r i t u a l s . She takes up those "revelatory tones and 9 gestures" while at the same time subjecting them to those laws of Proustian and Catholic "economy" which she had devised for her own w r i t i n g , which allowed " f i g u r a t i v e meaning (to be) p i l e d upon the l i t e r a l . " " ^ Spark's times and landscapes of the mind become, l i k e Combray and Balbec, closed f i c t i o n a l worlds, taking on a microscopic q u a l i t y and resonance which the inhabitants may not understand. Spark works on a small scale, making d i s t u r b i n g l y large-scale statements. She has learned v i a Proust to work an image u n t i l i t has yielded a l l possible s i g n i f i c a n c e . Her thoroughness i n t h i s regard was established early. In Robinson, her second novel, where she f i r s t describes "a time and landscape of the mind", she elaborates exhaustively, i f awkwardly, on the idea and the conceit of man as i s l a n d . Robinson, the character, i s both. "Where am I?" "Robinson" he said. "Who are you?" "Robinson." 1 1 Robinson's actual and psychic topography make up the action and structure of the novel, t h e i r image patterns overlapping and drawing on one another. 29 Robinson becomes a "sea-bound hero . . . A pagan pr e - C h r i s t i a n v i c t i m of expiation" i n the eyes of the heroine. The i s l a n d she sees as "apocryphal . . . a t r i c k of the mind . . . a truth of the mind." I t 12 resembles "a l o c a l i t y of childhood both dangerous and l y r i c a l . " Spark writes "always i n the hope that everything w i l l be said and done more c l e a r l y and appropriately than i n r e a l l i f e . . , . . , , l i f e as 13 a whole rather than a seri e s of disconnected happenings." She shapes these wholes into a l l e g o r i c a l superstructures, so making the image l e g i b l e and the allegory v i s u a l . Spark's technique i s based on a systematic d i s t o r t i o n of the r e a l by the metaphysical. Where Proust i s almost mathematically analogical i n h i s search for those aspects of experience which e s s e n t i a l l y and permanently connect, Muriel Spark begins with the assumption that perception i s i m p e r i a l i s t i c , a r b i t r a r y and u n r e l i a b l e . Proust deals i n v i s u a l and verbal architecture, evoking and capturing h i s times and landscapes—Balbec, Combray, Guermantes and Venice—by applying as templates i n each d e s c r i p t i o n fixed a r c h i t e c t o n i c elements: s p i r e s , dungeons, roofs, terraces, and gardens, thus formulating the laws of 14 correspondence which are at the basis of his symbolism. In mid-career, Muriel Spark, with conscious or unconscious intent, produced a unit of f i c t i o n — t h r e e novels which absorb and act upon Proust's symbolic techniques and narrative structures, reduced to a workable paradigm to produce a v a s t l y d i f f e r e n t kind of f i c t i o n . In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,"*"^ The G i r l s of Slender Means'*"^  and The 30 Hothouse by the East R i v e r , x ' Spark chooses times and locations with p o l i t i c a l and aesthetic resonances which p e r f e c t l y embody her themes. There i s an i n t e r l o c k i n g of image and information, so that each novel i s both consummately h i s t o r i c a l and l i f t e d r i g h t out of chronology. The novels are symbolic, a l l e g o r i c a l works validated by a wealth of precise, s a l i e n t d e t a i l of place and period. The temporality and geo-grpahy of Edinburgh i n the t h i r t i e s , London at the end of the war, and New York at the end of the s i x t i e s are both n a t u r a l i s t i c a l l y and meta-p h o r i c a l l y caught. Time and place match. The f i r s t of the novels was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, i n which, Spark presented a l a r g e r - t h a n - l i f e spinster, a charismatic teacher and creator of a s c h o o l - g i r l e l i t e , as her symbol for the f a s c i s t t h i r t i e s . The novel's scenario i s C a l v i n i s t Edinburgh i n the wake of the depression. Both Jean Brodie and the f a s c i s t movement are i n t h e i r prime. Her armies are the l i t t l e g i r l s whom she has selected to r e f i n e i n her image. They are zealous and obedient and f i n a l l y they too become corrupt, and Jean Brodie, th e i r leader, i s dispossessed, 18 dying "the year a f t e r the war from an i n t e r n a l growth." The theme of the novel i s e l i t i s m , both p o l i t i c a l and r e l i g i o u s . I t i s about the nature of f a i t h and the consequences of power. Calvinism i s a c t u a l l y and symbolically part of the landscape i n Edinburgh i n 1936. The outsides of old Edinburgh churches frightened her, they were of such dark stone, l i k e presences almost the colour of the Castle rock, and were b u i l t so warningly with t h e i r upraised fingers . . . these emblems of a dark and t e r r i b l e s a l v a t i o n which made the f i r e s of the damned seem very merry to the imagination by con-t r a s t . . . 1 9 31 The most treacherous of Miss Brodie's proteges becomes a rather tortured nun, who writes an "odd psychological t r e a t i s e on the nature 20 of moral perception, c a l l e d 'The Transfiguration of the Commonplace"1. This young woman had comprehended most f u l l y the dangerous combination of Jean Brodie and Calvin, Edinburgh and the t h i r t i e s . Sandy r e c a l l e d Miss Brodie's admiration for Mussolini's marching roops . . . I t occurred to Sandy . . . that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie's f a s c i s t i , not to the naked eye, marching along, but a l l k n i t together for her need . . . marching along . . . a body with Miss Brodie for the head, i n u n i f i e d compliance to the destiny of Miss Brodie,. as i f God had w i l l e d them to b i r t h for that purpose . . .21 Spark incorporates an i r o n i c , multi-layered assessment of power, of " e l e c t i o n " , i n her i n t r i c a t e p o r t r a i t of the charismatic Miss Brodie as a benevolent despot, bewitching lovers and d i s c i p l e s a l i k e . I t i s a double parody: a p o l i t i c a l one i n that her career p a r a l l e l s the h i s -t o r i c a l r i s e and f a l l of the f a s c i s t movement; and a r e l i g i o u s one i n that i t s a t i r i z e s through Jean Brodie's moulding of the l i t t l e g i r l s ' characters, man's unceasing v u l n e r a b i l i t y to corruption. I t i s also a parody of any e l i t e based on s e n s i b i l i t y , the idea of a "creme de l a creme." "Hold up your books" said Miss Brodie quite often that autumn, "prop them up i n your hands, i n case of intruders. If there are any intruders we are doing our h i s t o r y lesson . . . our poetry . . . English grammar." . . . "Meantime I w i l l t e l l you about my l a s t summer holiday i n Egypt . . . I w i l l t e l l you about the care of the skin, and of the hands, . . . about the Frenchman I met i n the t r a i n to B i a r r i t z . . . and I must t e l l you about the I t a l i a n paintings I saw. Who i s the greatest I t a l i a n painter?" "Leonardo da V i n c i , Miss Brodie." "That i s i n c o r r e c t . The answer i s Giotto, he i s my 9 9 f a v o u r i t e . " ^ 32 The g i r l s became a kind of aesthetic m i l i t i a . The p o r t r a i t of Jean Brodie i s a model for the novel's m u l t i -surfaced p r e c i s i o n . D e t a i l i s always at l e a s t double-edged. Jean Brodie i s the h i s t o r i c a l and personal tyrant figure of the work, and at the same time she i s a vi c t i m , and a figu r e of romantic parody. She t e l l s her g i r l s i n f a i r y - t a l e fashion of her fiance k i l l e d at Flanders. He f e l l the week before Armistice was declared. He f e l l l i k e an autumn le a f . . . Hugh was one of the Flowers of the Forest, l y i n g i n his grave.23 Miss Brodie had elected h e r s e l f to grace i n so p a r t i c u l a r a way and with more s u i c i d a l enchantment than i f she had simply taken to drink l i k e other spinsters who couldn't stand i t any more . . . there was a whiff of sulphur about the idea . . H i s t o r i c a l l y , "Miss Brodie was an Edinburgh spinster of the deepest dye," one of a generation of young women whose lovers were k i l l e d during 25 World War One. They were an u n l i k e l y generation of spinsters, d i s -possessed of the normal channels for t h e i r energies. There were legions of her kind during the nineteen-t h i r t i e s , women who crowded t h e i r war-bereaved sp i n s t e r -hood with voyages of discovery into new ideas and energetic p r a c t i c e s , i n ar t or s o c i a l welfare, education or r e l i g i o n . Miss Brodie had devoted a l l her energy to her prime, and i t s recreation i n her g i r l s . She i s a heroine of her own construction, a l i v i n g f i c t i o n . "I met a poet by a fountain. Here i s a pi c t u r e of Dante meeting B e a t r i c e . " 2 7 As her charges grow, the years add layers to her f i c t i o n a l i z i n g , and i t becomes d i f f i c u l t for her to d i s t i n g u i s h between the r e a l and the imagined. 33 A longstanding teaching technique of Jean Brodie's for example, had been to incorporate her love a f f a i r s with the Art master, Teddy Loyd, and the Music teacher, Gordon Lowther, into her i n s t r u c t i o n of how to conduct one's prime. This embodies the idea i n the novel, that r e a l i t y i s simply an accretion of f i c t i o n s . That Spring . . . there was no r a i n worth remembering, the grass, the sun and birds l o s t t h e i r self-centred winter mood and began to think of others. Miss Brodie's old love story was newly embroidered under the elm, with curious threads.28 This theme of perceptual confusion underlines the further themes of developing consciousness and i t s manipulation. By the time t h e i r friendship with Miss Brodie was of seven years' standing, i t had worked i t s e l f into t h e i r bones, so that they could not break away without as i t were, s p l i t t i n g t h e i r bones to do so.29 In as much as the novel i s a study i n perception, i t also concerns i t -s e l f i n the Proustian manner, with the f a m i l i a r Sparkian themes of spying and betrayal. Sandy Stranger betrays Jean Brodie to the head-mistress as having taught fascism to her g i r l s ; for she wants to put a stop to her as an e n t i t y . "She thinks she i s Providence . . . she thinks she i s the God of Calvin, she sees the beginning and the end."3*"* The g i r l i s able to betray her mentor by v i r t u e of what she has learned. Sandy was fascinated by t h i s method of making patterns with f a c t s , and was divided between her admiration for the technique and the pressing need to prove Miss Brodie g u i l t y of misconduct.31 Sandy learns and embodies the "economy of method" which comes with 34 the " t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of the commonplace" i n the hands of both Jean Brodie and Muriel Spark. The g i r l learns to extract the essence from people and time, and to turn i t to her advantage. During her a f f a i r with Teddy Loyd . . . she was curious about the mind that loved the woman . . . Jean Brodie . . . By the end of the year i t happened that she quite l o s t i n t e r e s t i n the man himself, but was deeply absorbed i n his mind, from which she extracted, among other things, h i s r e l i g i o n as a p i t h from a husk. Her mind was as f u l l of his r e l i g i o n as a night sky i s f u l l of things v i s i b l e and i n v i s i b l e . She l e f t the man and took his r e l i g i o n and became a nun i n the course of t i m e . 3 2 She and Spark apply t h i s t r a n s f i g u r i n g technique consummately to the figure of Jean Brodie as she comes to stand for Edinburgh and the t h i r t i e s . Miss Brodie looked b e a u t i f u l and f r a g i l e , j u s t as dark heavy Edinburgh i t s e l f could suddenly be changed into a f l o a t i n g c i t y when the l i g h t was a s p e c i a l pearly white and f e l l upon one of the gr a c e f u l l y fashioned s t r e e t s . In the same way, Miss Brodie's masterful features became cl e a r and sweet to Sandy when viewed i n the curious l i g h t of the woman's f o l l y . 3 3 The woman's f o l l y i t s e l f becomes the major design of the novel as we come to r e l y on her biz a r r e perspective. Spark reminds us only l a t e i n the f i c t i o n , that Jean Brodie, l i k e her other protagonists, i s not necessari l y to be trusted. "Who was Miss Brodie?" "A teacher of mine, she was f u l l of cult u r e . She was an Edinburgh F e s t i v a l a l l on her own. She used to give us teas at her f l a t and t e l l us about her prime." "Prime what?" 3 4 "Her prime of l i f e . . . she wasn't mad . . . " 35 The key to the novel's design i s the poetic c o r r e l a t i o n of the landscaping of place and time with the leading character's consciousness. The text comes to stand as a diagram or map for a state of mind and a stance i n the world. I t follows the Proustian formula of a closed com-munity i n the Marcia Blaine School for G i r l s , and within the larger community, the Brodie set, i t s e l f some kind of d i s t i l l a t i o n of the larger s i t u a t i o n . Each of these communities has i t s own laws of perception and i t s own code. As i n Proust's salon, there i s an intruder, (at l e a s t i n s p i r i t , ) who acts as a betrayer. The time-scape of the novel i s also an elaboration of Brodie con-sciousness. Miss Brodie's f i c t i o n s l i f t her, of course, out of time, which, displeases her i n a c t u a l i t y . She provides her own chronology. "These years are s t i l l the years of my prime. Here i s my tramcar. I dare say I ' l l not get a seat. This i s 1936. The age of ch i v a l r y i s past." 3 In h i s t o r y lessons she moves e a s i l y from one narrative present to a point six years before and from there to the death of her fiance i n World War One. Time becomes an eccentric continuum i n the novel, i n the hand of one woman's agitated s e n s i b i l i t y . Narrative time follows the same s h i f t i n g sequence i n chronology as Jean Brodie's sense of time. This f a b r i c a t i o n of time contributes to the systematic undoing of r e a l i s t i c norms i n the novel. Insertions of the f a n t a s t i c , the i d e a l and the un-l i k e l y add to a sense that narrative r e a l i t y i s made up of travestied fantasies. Jean Brodie sees herself as the Lady of Shalott at one stage, for example. She overlaps p e r s o n a l i t i e s and d e s t i n i e s , e s p e c i a l l y those 36 of her g i r l s , one of whom she prepares to take her place as Teddy Loyd's love r . The " t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of the commonplace" describes Jean Brodie's l i f e and Spark's procedures as well as Sandy's t r e a t i s e . The actual city-scape of Edinburgh i s f a i t h f u l l y evoked, complete with Fabians, C a l v i n i s t discomfort, and long l i n e s of the Idle or Unem-ployed. . . . the slow j e r k i l y moving f i l e . . . a l l of a piece l i k e a dragon's body which had no r i g h t to be i n the c i t y and yet would not go away and was unslayable.36 The novel i s schematic, precise and astringent, and enriched by i t s active reconstruction of time. One of Mrs. Spark's stated a r t i s t i c i n -37 tentions i s "to restore the proportions of the human s p i r i t . " In t h i s , the f i r s t of her intensely poetic novels, t h i s concern for proportion acts as a sealing agent on the n a r r a t i v e , i t s imagery and thematic concerns. There i s a polished verbal f i n i s h to the novella, making i t a kind of prose mosaic. It s design i s pure contemporary allegory: a landscape of time and consciousness. In reply to Proust's paradigm for w r i t i n g "transcendent" p r o s e — a metaphorical concordance of time, place, character and idea—Spark has produced i n The Prime of  Miss Jean Brodie, the f i r s t i n a series of poetic novellas, to repre-sent a kind of psychic map. The G i r l s of Slender Means, written i n 1963, further r e f i n e s Muriel 38 Spark's very p a r t i c u l a r pattern for city-scape. With the novel's opening d e s c r i p t i o n of war-ruined London, she declares her i n t e n t i o n to make "unusual demands on the mind's eye." We are given an appropriately surreal landscape to match the intentions of the novel. 37 Some bomb-ripped buildings looked l i k e the ruins of ancient c a s t l e s u n t i l , at c l o s e r view, the wallpapers of various quite normal rooms would be v i s i b l e . . . most of a l l the staircases survived, l i k e a new a r t form, leading up and to an unspecified destination . . . The novel's c e n t r a l image i s of another closed community: the May of Teck Club, a hostel for well-bred but f i n a n c i a l l y reduced young women. The span of the novel i s the heady time between VE and VJ days. The club becomes an emblem for London and the time. The novel's theme i s a u s t e r i t y of one kind or another, and i t s tone i s appropriately spare. In t h i s novel Mrs. Spark makes t i g h t e r and more con t r o l l e d e f f o r t s to translate h i s t o r i c a l and sensory information into a l l e g o r i c a l design, into a s p e c i f i c a l l y C h r i s t i a n frame of reference. Spark, l i k e R i l k e , has described the a r t i s t as one who "changes . 40 a c t u a l i t y into something e l s e . " In t h i s novel she prepares us for m u l t i p l i c i t y and transformation i n the t i t l e . The expression "Slender Means" has three connected meanings i n the narrative. I t can mean f i n a n c i a l impoverishment, e t h i c a l impoverishment, or more f l i p p a n t l y , i t can r e f e r to the elegant physical dimensions needed to s l i d e i n and out of the club's narrow upper window to sunbake on the roof. A l l three p o s s i b i l i t i e s are i n t r i c a t e l y worked into the f a b r i c of the novel. To o f f s e t the blighted circumstances of London and i t s inhabitants i n 1945, Spark introduces a wry " f a i r y t a l e " tone. Long ago i n 1945 a l l the nice people i n England were poor . . .41 The community of survivors at the May of Teck Club i s c e r t a i n l y reduced, e t h i c a l l y and f i n a n c i a l l y . The loss Spark suggests may be the p r i c e of 38 s u r v i v a l ; nonetheless they too are s l i g h t l y fabular. . . . few people a l i v e at the time were more d e l i g h t f u l , more ingenuous, more movingly l o v e l y , and as i t might happen, more savage than the g i r l s of slender means. 4 2 The e n t i r e tone and slant of the novel i s caught i n that elusive, curiously slanted q u a l i f i c a t i o n , "as i t might happen." Spark develops i n t h i s novel a technique for " f i x i n g " s o c i a l land-scapes and for freezing images much as Proust had painted them and as Robbe-Grillet i s to "stop" them. Spark makes a fresco out of an e b u l l i e n t crowd on VE night. They became members of a wave of the sea, they surged and sang . . . Only the St. John's Ambulance men, watchful beside vans, had any i d e n t i t y l e f t . . . Many strange arms were entwined around strange bodies. Many l i a i s o n s , some permanent, were formed i n the night . . . The next day everyone began to consider where they personally stood i n the new order of things.43 She i s concerned with the power of war to dissolve i d e n t i t y , and with the consequent problems of reconstructing that i d e n t i t y , when the d e f i n -ing factor of the enemy i s removed. One of the novel's protagonists quotes Cavafy: And now what w i l l become of us without the Barbarians? Those people were some kind of s o l u t i o n . 4 4 I t becomes i r o n i c a l l y c l e a r , that i n t h i s case, even the Barbarians had never been any kind of so l u t i o n whatever. The community of e t h i c a l l y slender g i r l s i s i n f i l t r a t e d and d i s -rupted i n the Sparkian (and Proustian) manner, by a young man c a l l e d Nicholas Farringdon, a vague B r i t i s h w r i t e r whose s e n s i b i l i t y has been temporarily displaced by the war. As a v i s i t o r to the club, he i s struck 3 9 by the " b e a u t i f u l aspects of poverty and charm amongst the g i r l s . H e f a l l s i n love with t h e i r corporate s p i r i t . There i s more than a sugges-t i o n of au t h o r i a l self-parody i n t h i s paradigm of the i n f i l t r a t i o n of a closed community by a dis r u p t i v e outsider who i s an observer and tra n s l a t o r of information. What Farringdon does with his v i s i o n of the young women i s c e n t r a l to the purposes of the book. He discerned with irony the processes of h i s own thoughts, how he was imposing upon t h i s l i t t l e society an image incomprehensible to i t s e l f . 4 6 Muriel Spark has 1taken as one of the premises for t h i s work, the idea, p a r t i c u l a r l y as i t r e l a t e s to war, that "a v i s i o n of e v i l may be as e f f e c -47 t i v e to conversion as a v i s i o n of good." The novel's climax involves the explosion of a long dormant bomb i n the club's garden and a subsequent f i r e which consumes the bu i l d i n g . The novel takes on apocalyptic over-tones. One g i r l , a minister's daughter dies almost a mystic i n the f i r e , while Selina Redwood, the most b e a u t i f u l and savage of the young women, i n an episode f u l l of Proustian resonance, rescues only an expensive dress. The sight of t h i s provides p r e c i s e l y the " v i s i o n of e v i l " needed to a l t a r Farringdon's view of the world. I t was said l a t e r that the 48 f i r e "probably turned h i s brain." Selina had been i n his eyes the most perfect embodiment of the club and i t s code. Just as Proust focuses on the discrepancy between apparent c i v i l i z a t i o n and the r e a l savagery underlying the a r t i f i c e of s o c i a l behaviour, Spark's character i s revealed here as a savage, and Farringdon's i d e a l construction collapses. One of Spark's main concerns i n t h i s novel i s to disrupt any g l i b 40 equations of moral and aesthetic worth in the minds of readers. They do not she suggests, necessarily co-exist, nor do they mirror one another. Farringdon, the poet-figure in the novel, is searching as one of James' artist-heroes might have done, for a "lovely frozen image" of the club and its inhabitants which will incorporate the aesthetic and the ethical. For him, Joanna,, the elocution teacher and private mystic, embodies the latter, while Selina Redwood, "floating . . . in a Schiaparelli rustle of silk . . . a high disregard of a l l surrounding noises," 49 is the essence of the former. Ironically, both young women are lost at the end of the novel, and it is Jane Wright, a fat, yearning and persistent editor's assistant, who furnishes Farringdon's final image of the place and time. She is neither the best nor the worst of the May of Teck Glub. Yet she is its only final representative in the VJ day crowd. Jane mumbled, "Well I wouldn't have missed i t really." She had halted to pin up her struggling hair, and had a hair pin in her mouth as she said i t . Nicholas marvelled at her stamina, recalling her in this image years later in the country of his death—how she stood —sturdy and bare-legged on the dark grass, occupied with her hair—as if this was an image of a l l the May of Teck establishment in its meek, unselfconscious attitudes of poverty long ago in 1945.^ In this final, frozen crowd scene, Spark reminds us that the spectacle of war does not exhaust the human capacity for violence. A seaman observed only by Nicholas, slid a knife silently between the ribs of a woman who was with him. The lights went up on the balcony, and a hush anticipated the Royal appearance. The stabbed woman did not scream, but sagged immediately.^ 41 The novel i s suspended between the two crowd scenes. I t s time-span has d i s t i l l e d the behaviour of the war-hysterical crowd. In the l a s t of these scenes Nicholas Farringdon performs one of the functions of an author: he turns a commentary on the s i t u a t i o n into an image, and takes i t out of time. This kind of d i v i s i o n of labour i s one of the narrative s l e i g h t s of hand Spark i s to perfect. Ironic self-consciousness i n construction i s to be a recurring element i n her a l l e g o r i c a l designs. The commonplace i s more c l i n i c a l l y and f i n e l y transfigured i n t h i s novel than i n her e a r l i e r novels. The peripheral and e s s e n t i a l a l i k e are constantly drawn into shape, i n order to construct the conceit of the novel. Every d e t a i l i s functional and becomes contingent within the a l l e g o r i c a l frame. This requires an eccentric harmony between the stated formality of the allegory and the s a t i r i c , i n s t r u c t i v e d i r e c t i o n of the work. • Spark makes information work both ways — a l -l e g o r i c a l l y and s a t i r i c a l l y - - e s p e c i a l l y i n c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n . Nicholas Farringdon i s the reader's witness i n the novel, as he possesses the most coherent and r e l i a b l e perspective. At the same time he embodies the s p i r i t of an i n t e l l e c t u a l twilight-zone common to England's i n t e l l i g e n t s i a i n the t h i r t i e s and f o r t i e s . Therefore he too, i s not e n t i r e l y to be trusted. "He i s a mess by the way . . . always undecided about whether to l i v e i n England or France, and whether he preferred men or women . . . he could never make up his mind between su i c i d e and an equally d r a s t i c course of a c t i o n known as Father D'Arcy . . . Nicholas was a p a c i f i s t up to the outbreak of war . . . then he joined the army . . . he said . . . the war has brought him peace . . . next thing he i s psychoanalysed out of the army . . . and he i s working for Intelligence.52 42 Spark presents t h i s character through a favourite technique, as a pastiche of the post-war, "barely presentable" i n t e l l e c t u a l . Like Jean Brodie, Nicholas i s the embodiment of a whole generation of people of displaced s e n s i b i l i t y and no clear vocation. He does, however, perform the valuable function i n the novel, of perfecting the t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of the common-place, echoing the author's own designs and a c t i v e l y r e i n f o r c i n g the symmentry of the novel. Other key themes i n the novel are the processes and implications of memory. Farringdon, for example, i s introduced into the narrative some time a f t e r h i s obscure death while on a remote i s l a n d , as a missionary. His fate has overtones of T. S. E l i o t ' s poetry and plays. I t i s rumoured that he died v i o l e n t l y . Now he i s a shadowy figure discussed on the telephone. "What a long time ago that was . . . It brings everything ;back." "How has he died, by the way?" said Rudi. "He was martyred, they say." said Jane. "In H a i t i . How i s t h i s ? " "I don't know much, except what I get from the news sources. Reuters says . . ." "I can't hear you, i t ' s a rotten l i n e . . ." " . . . How he died . . .?"' ". . . a hut . . . " "I can't hear . . . " ". . . i n a v a l l e y . . ." "Speak loud." " i n a clump of palms . . . deserted . . . i t was a market day, everyone had gone to market." "I can't hear a word. I ri n g you tonight, Jane. We meet later.53 There are decided resonances of Ce l i a ' s mysterious and apparently bar-baric death at the hands of natives on a remote i s l a n d i n E l i o t ' s The C o c k t a i l Party. This conversation, and, i n e f f e c t , Farringdon's 43 death marks the point at which the novel begins. Throughout the novel he i s described as one half-remembered. This other one who smiled was Nicholas Farringdon, not yet known or as yet at a l l l i k e l y to be.-"5 His c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n then amounts to a set of c o l l e c t i v e r e c o l l e c t i o n s , none of them necessarily true or even r e l i a b l e , given that Farringdon himself was our steadiest witness. The telephone conversation with which he i s introduced echoes the p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of Death i n an e a r l i e r book, Memento Mori, who a c t u a l l y telephones people to warn them that they are 56 going to die. This i s how death comes, i t seems, i n the technological age, and i t i s a l l the more s i n i s t e r for i t . In The G i r l s of Slender Means, Spark has refined s i g n i f i c a n t l y her technique for s p e l l i n g out absolutes i n what at f i r s t may appear to be the commonplace. She has with t h i s novel begun to d i s t i l the elements of her f i c t i o n a l architecture i n a p a r t i c u l a r l y Proustian way. She now appeals to the "mind's eye" of the reader. She combines r u t h l e s s l y clear f i c t i o n a l l i n e s with an elegant v i s u a l surface. She i s now able to synchronize i n her characterizations those elements of the r e a l and the metaphorical which were the basis of her designs of the time and landscape of the work. She has learned to balance character, time and landscape i n a state of suspended tension. I l l "New York was beginning to decay." Mrs. Spark said explaining her move to Rome. " I t was beginning to get dangerous and d i r t y . " Daily Telegraph, Sept. 25th, 1970. 44 The Hothouse by the East River"''7 i s a piece of p u r g a t o r i a l f i c t i o n , much l i k e Jean Paul Sartre's Huis Clos. Although i t i s ostensibly set i n modern-day New York, i t s e n t i r e cast was k i l l e d i n London during a World War II bombing r a i d . Spark's p l o t i s an a r b i t r a r y f i c t i o n a l con-s t r u c t i o n of t h e i r intended l i v e s i n America a f t e r the war. The novel extends the methods used i n Spark's other poetic novels. She begins with the same f i c t i o n a l premises, methodology and structures of ideas; her images are more exotic, however, and t h e i r refinement and synthesis more exacting. The action of the novel i s suspended be-tween two actual and a l l e g o r i c a l landscapes and times—Europe, 1944 and New York, 1970. Both are "death-scapes". Europe i s a scene of actual war-time death and New York a l l e g o r i z e s p u r g a t o r i a l "death i n l i f e " . The l a t t e r i s described as something of an h a l l u c i n a t i o n or abstract painting. From the odd a e r i a l slant of the protagonists' window, the l i n e s of the c i t y are ominously s i l e n t and c l i n i c a l l y geometric. I t could be an abstract canvas. The window bay of the room, j u t t i n g out fourteen s t o r i e s above everything i s considered to be a luxury. These great windows cover a t h i r d of the east wall which overlooks the r i v e r , the whole of the north wall towards the s t r e e t , and the adjoining corner of the west wall from where can be seen the length of the street with the i n t e r s e c t i o n of avenues diminishing i n the distance as far as the Pan Am building."' Spark echoes here, the narrative s t y l e of Robbe-Grillet with i t s focus on surfaces, angles and l i n e s of v i s i o n . The c i t y i s a psychic abstrac-t i o n , with f l u i d laws of actual and metaphoric perspective. 45 New York, home of the v i v i s e c t o r s of the mind, and of the mentally v i v i s e c t e d , s t i l l to be reassembled, of those who l i v e i n t a c t , h a b i t u a l l y wondering about t h e i r states of sanity, and home of those whose minds have been dead, bearing the scars of resurrection: New York heaves outside the consultant's o f f i c e , a g i t a t i n g a l l around her about her ears.59 The novel i s structured on a formula of inversion: the characters are dead, not l i v i n g , lunacy i s the most authentic state of existence i n the novel, and the past i s more r e a l than the author's uncertain present tense.. Shadow i s l i t e r a l l y more substantial than what appears to be act u a l . Imagined r e a l i t i e s are the only fa c t s provided i n the f i c t i o n . The novel abstracts the essences of the commonplace and uses them to create a new kind of landscape of the mind. As i n preceding works there i s a community, which forms a closed unit with i t s own perceptual laws. Here i t i s El s a and Paul's Manhattan apartment, a luxuriously-equipped s k y l i n e glasshouse, s i l e n t but for the purr of the temperature co n t r o l . I t o f f e r s the perspective of one "standing i n the a i r " . E l s a s i t s i n the bay window a good deal of the time, looking out over the East River. The Manhattan skyline reminds her of Carthage waiting for St. Augustine, . . . where there bubbled around me i n my ears a cauldron of unholy loves.60 The community based around the apartment consists of E l s a and Paul, the spectral New York c h i l d r e n of the house and various associates from the past, including a l a v i s h l y paid therapist. Again there i s an"echo of E l i o t ' s d e i s t i c therapist who supervizes the action i n The Co c k t a i l Party. Spark uses the physical unit of the apartment as a kind of 4 6 compression chamber. She confounds and puts into a vacuum the t r a d i -t i o n a l l y r e l i a b l e information of narrative, by f i r s t making i t pass through the f i l t e r of "purgatorial r e a l i t y " as contained i n the apart-ment. The novel's sensory data can only be interpreted c o r r e c t l y within i t s insane laws. This apartment, i n i t s i s o l a t i o n and i r r a t i o n a l i t y , becomes Spark's symbol for the psychic state of modern man. The novel i s r e l e n t l e s s i n i t s scrutiny of t h i s b i z a r r e state. "You know, Poppy," she says, "I've been thinking. My psyche i s l i k e a sky-scraper, stretching up and up, p r a c t i c a l l y a l l glass and s t e e l so that one can look out over everything, and one never bends."61 Spark sees the human s e n s i b i l i t y as unprecedentedly devalued and commercialized. When Paul looks at h i s wife he sees her as . . . r e a l estate l i k e the source of her money. She s i t s , well-dressed with her pretty hair-do and c a r e f u l make-up, but s i t s s o l i d l y , as on valuable land property painted up l i k e a d e t e r i o r a t i n g b u i l d i n g that has not yet been pulled down to make way for those high s t e e l structures, her daughter and son.62 El s a i s the character l e a s t adjusted to death, an unwilling Eurydice figure. She has i n f a c t , begun to m a t e r i a l i z e i n the actual world, i n the form of an unnaturally cast shadow, f a l l i n g at odd angles, r e -gardless of the l i g h t . Her husband, i n Spark's parody of the paranoia-ridden state of modern marriage, regards t h i s shadow-casting as an insane display of w i l l to torment him. Her hypothetical c h i l d r e n treat i t as cheerful madness. For the reader t h i s shadow i s proof that E l s a i s the clos e s t to a s e l f - r e a l i z i n g character i n the novel. She i s , however, by v i r t u e of her death and i n s t a b i l i t y , Spark's usual " u n r e l i a b l e witness". 47 The psyche i s a transparent, unbending glass and s t e e l structure; and the New York landscape i s intended to a l l e g o r i z e the " r e a l world" i n which i t must survive. As the novel opens, heat and mist descend on the c i t y , oppressing and d i s t o r t i n g perspective. ". .• . a l o t of mist this evening." "Really?" she says as i f she cannot see he r s e l f the heat fog that has lowered over the c i t y of New York a l l day. . . . she shudders. "Are you cold?" he says. "Those a i r conditioners are too old. They aren't r i g h t . " "The temperature touched a hundred and one at noon. The highways have buckled, many places." "You are suf f e r i n g from the heat, your imagination . . . " he says, her face s t i l l turned to the dark blue r i v e r where i t quivers with the ink-red r e f l e c t i o n of the Pepsi Cola sign on the opposite bank. "I t ' s affected you, Paul." she says i n her t r a n q u i l l i t y . "You've been standing there i n that spot since you came i n . " "Today's been the hottest on record for twelve years. Tomorrow i s to be worse. People are going mad i n the s t r e e t s . People coming home, men coming home, w i l l have r i o t s i n t h e i r hearts and heads, never mind r i o t s i n the s t r e e t . " ^ 3 Spark's d i c t i o n takes on an odd, almost drugged n e u t r a l i t y which performs the same function i n the prose as the n u l l i f y i n g a i r temperature control i n the apartment, sealing the unit o f f from the outside. It i s winter time i n El s a Hazlett's apartment; the rushing summer purr of the a i r conditioner has ceased; the a i r quivers with c e n t r a l heating that cannot be turned o f f very f a r , and which i s augmented by heat from the f l a t s above and below and i n the northern flank. . . . the cent r a l heating quivers i n the a i r and, outside the window, snowflakes begin to f o l d into clouds, descending as they have done, on and o f f , for 48 so many weeks . . . the East window looks out on the dark t w i l i g h t f u l l of snow, a s w i r l i n g grey spotted muslin v e i l , beyond which, only by f a i t h and experience, can you know, stands the sky over the East River.^4 Manhattan i s presented as the c e n t r a l , metaphoric landscape of the novel. War time Europe, an "actual" deathscape i s "hyper-real", rather than metaphorical. The norm i n the a i r about E l s a and Paul i s the war with Germany. Paul and E l s a are, at t h i s time, strong, young, langorous and i n love with one another. They are employed at an I n t e l l i g e n c e Compound i n the middle of the English countryside . . . " i n the green depths of England . . . the robot bombs which are already screaming down over London cannot be h e a r d . F o r some of the characters, t h i s time of actual devastation represents the only r e a l i t y they are prepared to accept. "Back i n 1944 when people were normal and there was a world war on."67 "What i s now? Now i s never, never. Only then e x i s t s . Where s h a l l I turn next? New. York i s changing. Help me!" "We r e a l l y l i v e d our l i f e . . . You don't seem to take i n how r e a l i t a l l was . . ."69 Elsa t r i e s to recover her l o s t "Europeanness" by f l e e i n g New York and going to modern-day Switzerland. From a f i r s t - c l a s s Zurich h o t e l , she confronts the sleek, a n t i s e p t i c , moneyed place which Europe has become. Her husband telephones her, begging her to return to New York, which i s at l e a s t , a comprehensible deathscape. "Why go back a l l that way where your soul has to fend for i t s e l f and you think f o r yourself i n secret while you conform with others i n the open? Come back 49 here to New York the sedative chamber, where you don't think at a l l and you can act as c r a z i l y as you l i k e and t a l k your head o f f , a l l day, a l l night."^0 Spark creates an Orpheus/Eurydice parody, with Paul's attempts to lu r e E l s a back to " l i f e " . The f i n a l moments of the novel see th i s metropolis of the mind's eye as a pur g a t o r i a l landscape, l i k e Camus' Amsterdam i n La Chute. Death f i n a l l y re-overtakes Paul and El s a i n New York's night-club d i s t r i c t . The e n t i r e supporting cast that had died with them pursues the couple through a serie s of h e l l i s h night-clubs and dark c i t y s t r e e t s . The cast i s d r i v i n g a hypothetical R o l l s Royce, as i f to pick them up for a night on the town. Once more, Paul i s Orpheus trying to lead E l s a away from p i n k - l i t clubs with mirrored walls. "Come away, love, they're a l l dead . . . Don't look back or answer . . . walk on, E l s a , our l i f e ' s our own to do what we l i k e with."'7"'" At the close of the novel, having eluded t h e i r dead f r i e n d s , they return home to fi n d that death has started to demolish t h e i r b u i l d i n g , the " e d i f i c e " they had "set soaring" to keep them from the grave. They stand outside the apartment block, looking at the s c a f f o l d i n g . The upper s t o r i e s are already gone and the lower part i s a s k u l l . A demolition truck waits for the new day's s h i f t to begin. The morning breeze from the East River i s already spreading the dust.^2 The East River has become Lethe to New York's H e l l . A Hothouse by the East River i s Muriel Spark's l e a s t chronological novel. In i t , time i s a r b i t r a r y , because imagined. Often i t i s a joke. 73 "Oh God, what was 1944? It never happened to me." Given i t s e r r a t i c 50 chronology, the novel requires a r c h i t e c t o n i c elements that are more p o e t i c a l l y consistent than in Spark's other landscape novels to order i t . Symbolic motifs she uses as c e l l u l o i d transparencies to overlay, connect and a l t e r each of the narrative's times and landscapes. Elsa's death-defying shadow, for example, f a l l s across the paths of a l l the characters, and i n a l l t h e i r rooms. It reminds us, cinematically, that the r e a l i t y we are observing i s purely a r t i f i c i a l . The shadow . . . f a l l s across the grand piano and on to the f l o o r l i k e a wobbly grey cashmere shawl that has been l e f t to t r a i l and gather dust untouched for a hundred 74 years.'^ She leaves the room, t r a i l i n g the shadow at the wrong angle, l i k e the t r a i n of an antique b a l l dress. The shadow has the v i s u a l power to be r e a l ; i t i s Elsa's objective cor-r e l a t i v e i n the world. It alone can displace the photographic negatives, the death d e t a i l s , that make up the v i s u a l surface of the novel. Elsa's shadow f a l l s brown i n the photograph, grey white in the negative; i t crosses h i s shadow and the children's as i f to cancel them with one sharp diagonal l i n e . 7 ^ Elsa's renegade shadow says above a l l that she e x i s t s on both sides of the hothouse glass. She s i t s i n the Bay window, smiling as i f " i n com-pany with the Nothing beyond the w i n d o w . S h e i s halfway between death and l i f e . Much of the novel's imagery i s photographic: i f a l l the characters are dead, they can be looked on metaphorically as photographic negatives. Elsa's shadow then becomes an inverted photographic " p o s i t i v e . S t i l l within the formula of inversion, lunacy i n the novel i s r e a l , while so-called r e a l i t y i s bloodless and i n s u b s t a n t i a l . Elsa and Paul 51 for example, are employed by t h e i r I n t e l l i g e n c e unit during the war, to s e c r e t l y and systematically promote a b s u r d i t i e s : they p r o f e s s i o n a l l y garble information to confuse the enemy. In the novel good behaviour i s a matter of respecting another's lunacies and wayward perceptions. In an early novel; The Comforters, one character had speculated an "good behaviour" of t h i s kind: Is the world a l u n a t i c asylum then? Are we a l l counted as maniacs d i s c r e e t l y making allowances for everyone else's derangement? 7 9 "I know he's K i e l , " Elsa says. "I know i t very well. I wish you would be more ob l i g i n g , Poppy and pretend he's someone else . . . I t ' s a matter of persevering i n the pretence. "^0 The novel i s both s a t i r i c a l and analogical i n accord with the Proustian landscapes of the mind. But at the basis of i t s method i s a s u r r e a l i s t i c premise that i s to assume greater s i g n i f i c a n c e i n Spark's l a t e r f i c t i o n : that fact i s a r b i t r a r y and often spurious. This i s the key to the novel's extraordinary equilibrium between the s a t i r i c and the godly. The i n -version which underlies and provides a metaphor for t h i s equilibrium centres on the healthiness of war-time compared with the degradation and inadequacy of the present peace. "Back i n 1944 when . . . there was a world war on . . . l i f e was more v i v i d . . . everything was more d i s t i n c t . The hours of the day lasted longer . . ."81 Present-day New York i s the drugged, defused a n t i t h e s i s of t h i s former state. This adds an elegaic dimension to the work. At the centre of the novel i s the image of the hothouse. I t embodies the dangerous, glassy psychic state of modern l i v i n g . L i f e i n i t i s not only godless, 52 but also " l i f e l e s s " . Fact and sensory d e t a i l i n the novel are the l e a s t r e l i a b l e , l e a s t substantial elements i n the n a r r a t i v e . The images and a l l e g o r i c a l superstructure, the "glass and s t e e l " are far more important. It i s the s p i r i t , the metaphor, the t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of n a t u r a l i s t i c elements which create the substance of the work. Technically, the novel i s an i r o n i c collage of a n t i - n o v e l i s t i c methodology, of reworked f i c t i o n a l conventions and c l i c h e s . I t i s f i c t i o n written " i n bad f a i t h " i n Sartre's sense, but on the other hand, i t i s at the same time, an intensely poetic work. As a r e s u l t there i s a f i n e i n t e g r a t i o n of the l i t e r a l , the metaphorical and the metaphysical. When El s a and Paul turn to face death, her shadow encompasses the re-sonances of a l l three elements to r e f l e c t , i f not peace, then at l e a s t s o l u t i o n . "Come E l s a , " Paul says, "we can go back . . . they've been very patient r e a l l y . " She turns to the car, he following her, watching as she moves how she t r a i l s her f a i t h f u l and l i t h e cloud of unknowing across the pavement. 8 2 The surface of the novel i s highly f i n i s h e d and the prose i s layered with semantic nuance and extra-temporal language referents. I t i s written i n a r e l e n t l e s s present tense, frequently undercut by a cond i t i o n a l mood of e x i s t e n t i a l proportions. It i s an elegant, damning work, probing i n the nervous system of both modern l i v i n g and modern f i c t i o n . Its funda-mental concern i s with the t e r r i f y i n g i s o l a t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l s i n the most sp e c t r a l of landscapes, the metropolis. Death and memory are again attendant upon one another and act as a permanent stage s e t t i n g i n the 53 novel. I t i s the novel's c e n t r a l claim that perception, comprehension and connection with others i s a f i n i t e and fragmentary a f f a i r , often s i n i s t e r and frequently absurd. Paul and E l s a have been c l o s e s t , for example, when under interrogation for a supposed misdemeanour at the I n t e l l i g e n c e Compound. This episode encapsulates the possibly baseless f a i t h necessary to connect with another i n d i v i d u a l , and the shared fear which might well be the most tangible and confirming aspect of the rapport. " A l l that matters i s that we've been brought together at short notice, without chance of rehearsal. I t ' s something," Paul thinks "to know suddenly how much tr u s t there i s between us. A f t e r a l l t h i s experience i s something."83 This underlies the novel's large-scale analogy. This p o t e n t i a l l y base-less f a i t h i n another i n d i v i d u a l i s analogous to the requirements of r e l i g i o u s f a i t h . Both are strategies for s u r v i v a l with death as the enemy and self-surrender as the p r i c e . ^ The work incorporates a new f i l m i c q u a l i t y , which indicates the degree of influence the Nouveau Roman i s to have on her w r i t i n g i n sub-sequent novels, and encapsulates neatly Muriel Spark's heavily q u a l i f i e d view of r e a l i t y . The only view of the world she i s prepared to admit i n f i c t i o n from now on, i s the e l l i p t i c a l and poetic v i s u a l and verbal code, which i s developed i n t h i s novel. A cinematic perspective i s i d e a l for her f i c t i o n a l purposes. I t removes the omnipresent author, while affirming the primary s i g n i f i c a n c e of form and structure. It can create a multi-surfaced v i s u a l aspect where, as i n cinema, simultaneous angles of v i s i o n can deal with a number of themes and perspectives. This i s 54 p r e c i s e l y the technique which Spark needed to incorporate her l i t e r a r y s a t i r e and i t s t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n into metaphor and metaphysical landscapes. In t h i s novel we see the city-scape recede as her basic a l l e g o r i c a l structure. Here " e x t e r i o r i z a t i o n " of d e t a i l — h e r e , New York, 1973— gives way to the atemporal and disembodied inner landscape of "the mind's eye"—here, an apartment suspended i n the a i r , a room and i t s decor now taking the weight of psychic s i g n i f i c a n c e . Early i n her career, Spark had dismissed r e a l i s t i c f i c t i o n a l norms as subject to the "dissembling powers of the f l e s h " . From The Hothouse  by the East River onwards, she proceeds, by v i r t u e of her new landscap-ing techniques, to, as one c r i t i c has put i t , "extract the clean bones of .,85 na r r a t i v e . CHAPTER THREE MURIEL SPARK AND THE NOUVEAU ROMAN Since 1973, Muriel Spark has reassembled "the clean bones of n a r r a t i v e " i n the shadow of the French Nouveau Roman. I n d i r e c t l y , influenced by the works of Michel Butor, Nathalie Sarraute and e s p e c i a l l y A l a i n Robbe-Grillet, she continues to reply to Proust. She has responded to these contemporary French w r i t e r s , both for the Proustian resonances i n t h e i r works, and for the a n t i - r e a l i s t i c models t h e i r novels offered. She made use of the new n o v e l i s t i c methods i n France i n the process of re l o c a t i n g the emphasis of her works, away from the anagogical perspective i m p l i c i t i n her a l l e g o r i c a l constructions to date, and towards a sense of form and structure, stripped of i t s poetry and metaphysical dimension. In her l a t e r novels, Spark sought out narrative structures for examining space and time without n e c e s s a r i l y providing a moral or metaphysical context for them. She incorporated techniques basic to the French "new novel" to further her f i c t i o n a l aims: a s t r i c t l y a n t i -psychological basis to characterization, exact attention to the "surfaces" of objects and people, so weighting t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e equally, and a 55 56 clinical and precise sense of "the" narrative task. These replaced her earlier paradigms for transcendence based on metaphor, essence and correspondence, which she had collectively called "the transfiguration of the commonplace." Spark's later fiction deals with a time and landscape that is universal contemporary urban living. Landscapes, people and objects are now deliberately and ornamentally disconnected from reality in these narratives, in order to make them yield a new, revised version of their "permanent essence". Until this stage in her career, Spark had been able to sustain both an unequivocally surrealistic visual frame of reference and an uncompromised Christian metaphysic within the same fictional structures. She used them dialectically, to consider the universal and the particular simultaneously, by making her plots and characters answer to these antithetical referents. In so doing she salvages, a poetic schema for saving daily realities, the surreally banal, from insignificance and metaphysical irrelevance. Gradually, between The Public Image,"*" 2 published in 1974 and Territorial Rights in 1979, she cancelled the metaphysical referent from her narrative. In her later novellas, Mrs. Spark moves from an identifiable city and time into the timeless and international beau monde, populated with Cramer look-alikes: that circle of international people . . . who are inter-connected with interchangeable artistic professions. These were the young and aging actor-painters, painter-architects, architect-writers, writer-guitarists, and other more ramified combines, puttering away their inheritance of grace with, an occasional poem, a job in an art gallery . . , 3 c 57 We have moved from the c i t y and i t s landmarks to the room and i t s decor for a l l e g o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . Actual landscape and h i s t o r i c a l time as an o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of consciousness have been replaced by "indoor" structures which i n t e r i o r i z e and i s o l a t e consciousness i n l a r g e l y anonymous s e t t i n g s . Spark i s increasingly concerned with the disembodied landscape of the mind. Her focus incorporates the elaboration of surfaces common to both Baudelaire and the Nouveau Roman ,'despite t h e i r differences i n focus. She brings a s u r r e a l i s t ' s sense o'f a r t i f i c e to bear on the expensive camouflage which sets the stage f o r her i n t e r i o r i z e d mock-dramas. The novel, Not to Disturb, f or example, features a parquet f l o o r which once belonged to a foreign king. He had to f l e e h i s throne. He took the parquet of h i s palace with him, also the door knobs. Royalty always do, when they have to leave. They take everything l i k e stage companies who need t h e i r props. With royalty of course, i t i s a l l l a r g e l y a matter of stage production. And l i g h t i n g . Royalty are very c a r e f u l about t h e i r s e t t i n g and t h e i r l i g h t i n g . As i s the Pope. The Baron resembled royalty and the Pope i n that respect at l e a s t . Parquet f l o o r i n g and door handles. 4 A l l i s cosmetically arranged i l l u s i o n and a r t i f i c e and the cast of these n o v e l s — s o many f l e e i n g kings. The tone of these narratives i s that of an expatriated s e n s i b i l i t y . They are harsher, more astringent and more casually v i o l e n t than t h e i r predecessors. There i s no a u t h o r i a l l o y a l t y to time, place or p o r t r a i t u r e . I f there i s any investment of d e t a i l with extraordinary s i g n i f i c a n c e , any suggestion of C h r i s t i a n grace about these novels, then i t i s a s i g n i f i c a n c e i n absence. The novels are clever but ambiguous seeming-totalities. They 58 are intensely-wrought works f u l l of elegant, f l a t statements. The only point at which one i s allowed doubt, breathing space—the room f o r grace to i n t e r v e n e — i s the f a m i l i a r moment of simultaneity, of i r o n i c transcendence, f i r s t extracted from Proust. I t becomes however, more and more, a matter of form. Even redemption, one of Spark's most i n s i s t e n t concerns, becomes a very s t r u c t u r a l matter. In the past, she has had a tendency to end her novels compassionately, with some kind of metaphoric r e s o l u t i o n . The Public Image, published i n 1974, i s a t r a n s i t i o n a l work i n Spark's career i n several senses. Her method of resolving the narrative i l l u s t r a t e s the t r a n s i t i o n ; i t incorporates both the harshness and d i s l o c a t i o n of a l l of her l a t e r f i c t i o n , with perhaps the l a s t attempt to end one of her novels with a "saving grace", an image which redeems with s i g n i f i c a n c e something and someone who would otherwise be wasted. It i s neces s a r i l y an i r o n i c redemption of course, given the c y n i c a l nature of the work, which exposes the s p i r i t u a l and even the perceptual gaps between public and private images i n I t a l i a n cinema c i r c l e s . Spark's f i n a l transcendence here has more to do with s t y l e and balance than good w i l l . Her int e n t i o n i s no longer primarily metaphysical. The novel has provided a verbal "landscape" and i t s res o l u t i o n acts as a kind of 'grace note'. It i s simply a matter of ending the novel on a poised note rather than a coarse and thoroughly damning one. She concludes with one of her clean and timeless images f o r regeneration, an attempt to morally clear the a i r , a f t e r a v e r i t a b l e t a b l o i d of contemporary e v i l s . The image she chooses 59 is in fact a deft reworking of an earlier image used by the heroine's husband to describe her. In his hands i t had been a hack expression in a sham suicide letter. There he compares Annabel to a beautiful shell, like something washed up-on the sea shore, a collector's item, perfectly formed, a pearly s h e l l — but empty, devoid of the l i f e i t concealed.5 Annabel redeems herself at the end of the novel, after her husband's actual suicide, by abandoning her image and turning into an anonymous, self-sustaining woman with child, unnoticed in an airport lounge, waiting for a plane to Greece. Spark takes Frederick's vulgar mismanagement of this image and invests i t with new style and l i f e , redeeming i t and her heroine in the process. She was pale as a shell. She did not wear her dark glasses. Nobody recognized her as she stood, having moved the baby to rest on her hip, conscious also of the baby in a sense weightlessly and perpetually within her, as an empty shell contains, by its very structure, the echo and harking image of former and former seas.6 It is a harsher, "purer-languaged" Muriel Spark since her move to the Continent. The elegant non-partisan surfaces of these works have decided European resonances. She has developed a taste for the techniques of the Italian Cinema Verite: there is a deliberately depthless quality to the novels, a polished though hallucinatory format which actively prevents any irrational associations or sympathies from the reader. The only landmarks she allows us are verbal. Spark forcibly dissociates our sensibilities with her reworked cliches and renewed turns of phrase. This makes for highly ornamental satire. Her characters, for example, are more or less entirely the creations of their public relations officers. That belonging to the film-star couple in The Public Image would 60 arrange with a photographer to take a picture of Annabel lounging on her bed in her nightdress, one shoulder band slipping down her arm and her hair falling over part of her face . . . 7 The same enterprising publicity person, a young Italian woman named Francesca, who was fighting the Italian social and sexual code in the only way she knew, would disarrange the bed. She sat Frederick on the edge of the bed in a Liberty dressing gown, smoking with a smile of recent reminiscence. Or else Francesca had them photographed with a low table set with a lace-edged tray of afternoon tea, and the sun streaming in the window. Frederick held his cup and seemed to be stirring i t gently and gravely. While Annabel, sweet but unsmiling, touched the silver teapot with a gracious hand. "We must get the two sides of your lives" Francesca explained in the case there should be any doubt.8 This apparition of artifice is Spark's innocent, showy version of the Italian proverb which she quotes, and which might well underlie a l l of her later writing—"Se non e vero, e ben trovato." What begins as subject matter in her novels—rampant deception and distortion as current behavioural norms, quickly influences and finally constitutes the fictional forms she chooses to embody that subject matter. This point of transition is precisely the moment when the duplicitous techniques of the Nouveau Roman, where what you see becomes how you see i t , is 9 now relevant for Spark. She begins with verbal echoes and visual after-images, s t i l l essentially allegorical in the old way. In this one transi-tional novel, however, she moves away from actualizing her landscapes in the familiar ways, towards a more abstract and verbal topography. In the old style there are dark and dangerous backstreets directly adjacent to the sunlit piazzas where everything only seems to be happening. 61 They drove around a deserted piazza with a fountain playing h e a r t l e s s l y , i t s bowl upheld by a group of young boys, which was b u i l t by the p o l i t i c a l assassin to placate his conscience; and past the palace of the c a r d i n a l who bore the sealed quiet of the whole within h i s g u i l t ; with that g i r l now binding h i s body with her long h a i r f o r fun; while he lay planning, with a cold -mind, the actions of the -morning which were to conceal the night's e v i l ; calumny, calumny, a messenger here and there, many messengers, bearing whispers and h i n t s , and assured, p l a u s i b l e eye-witness accusations; narrow streets within narrower . . . the camera swung around to the old ghetto . ... Fixed inventions of deeds not done, accusations, the determined blackening of character.10 The concept of "a time and landscape of the mind" s t i l l has s i g n i f i c a n c e as a s t r u c t u r a l element i n these novelsj but there has been a s h i f t i n Spark's p a r t i c u l a r s k i l l s at psychic topography, away from the l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t i o n of ideas into an actual time and place, towards the s p a t i a l sense which Beckett, Sartre and Robbe-Grillet might a l l o t consciousness. Her new s t y l e , that of the disembodied landscape of consciousness, has begun to appear i n t h i s novel. Anonymous beau-monde p a r t i e s , unnamed a i r p o r t s , and decor more p a r t i c u l a r i z e d than s t r e e t s , c o n s t i t u t e exactly the kind of world that I t a l i a n scandal papers would dream up. This extends the idea developed i n The Prime of Miss Jean  Brodie, of the time structures i n the novel as v i r t u a l l y i d e n t i c a l with the heroine's, forming a chronology of consciousness. In this novel i t becomes a chronology based on a thoroughly f a n t a s t i c and caricatured sense of existence. Her new scenarios are a r b i t r a r y , and of no i n d i v i d u a l s i g n i f i c a n c e whatever, except that they set the scene for "scandals" and image-making, i n other words, f o r purely verbal constructions of r e a l i t y . 62 If our only landmarks are verbal, then the "geography of action" which has become a standard fictional design in Spark's works, is now located almost entirely within behaviour and dialogue, making up a verbal and optical after-image for strikingly simple plots. Cast and plot then make up a perceptual unit, the streamlined, "dissociated" version of the closed communities of earlier novels. Each work "landscapes" the horror and corruption implicit in modern cosmopolitan living. In these hallucinatory settings, where facts ring as true as bad opera plots, Spark charts again the f a l l from grace in our times. She indicts the endemic lies, the profit-making, the daily treacheries and the ruthless banalities of success and survival. There is a point of sardonic stasis in her presentation of detail, between the form of the information—its generally intricate enclosure— and the surreal arbitrariness of its content. In fact, the more squalid Spark's expose, the purer her prose becomes."'""'" This point of stasis also allows for a certain non-partisanship valuable in satire. Spark turns a cold eye on the grotesque and the scandalous without lecturing or harping. Where her characters are loud and vain, the author is quiet and deadly. Her diction is most perfect when detailing the loosest kind of Italian squalor. This stasis represents Muriel Spark's bizarre version of the counterpointing of form and content. As she simultaneously foils and illuminates, her authorial tone and language have never been so cunningly appropriate. She puts her familiar colloquial disdain to new and intricate purpose. 63 Within a few weeks, throughout Italy and beyond, i t was decidedly understood, thoroughly suggested, hinted and memorized, that in private, inaccessible to a l l possible survey, and particularly in bed, Annabel Christopher, the new star who played the passionate English governess, let r i p . 1 Witti Not to Disturb,The Driver's Seat^^ and The Abbess of Crewe, Spark takes this crafted dislocation of language further out of actual times and landscapes. Language and narrative structure alone constitute the map of the novel. These novels make up a series which parodies the novelistic form: the gothic murder, the Victorian detective and ghost story, the quest myth and contemporary political satire. As the formal precision.of the works:increases, so Spark reduces the verifiable particulars of the narrative, leaving the reader without bearings, and faced with an intricately enclosed anonymity. Characters are put in unspecified International airports, hotels, bars and nameless department stores. Nationalities and native tongues are left ambiguous. We are sure only of the glaring contemporaneity of the novels. A l l other detail appears to be interchangeable. Decor, the new psychic landscape for these ambiguous times, is standard, international good design. Its features are quite arbitrary and without any individual significance. It is s t i l l the commonplace on which Muriel Spark focuses her attention. The process of transfiguration, however, has shifted into a kind of surreal illumination; i t is a toneless documentation of what is surreal in the actual. Spark continues in her new style in The Driver's Seat, where, in Lise's flat the furniture is a l l fixed, adaptable to various uses, and stackable. Stacked into a panel are.six folding chairs, should the tenant decide to entertain six for dinner. 64 The w r i t i n g desk extends to a dining room table and when the desk i s not i n use, i t too, disappears i n t o the pinewood wal l , i t s bracket lamp hingeing outward and upward to form a wall lamp. The bed i s by day a narrow seat with overhanging bookcases; by night i t swivels out to accommodate the sleeper . . . A small pantry-kitchen adjoins the room. Here, too, everything i s contrived to f o l d away into the d i g n i t y of the unvarnished pinewood . . . The swaying t a l l pines among the l i t t e r of cones on the forest f l o o r have been subdued into s i l e n c e and into obedient bulks.15 L i v i n g objects have been abstracted and neutralized. This condition of s t e r i l i t y appears, from the heroine's t r a v e l s , to be i n t e r n a t i o n a l . The novel i s f u l l of vacuous, abstracted crowd scenes, of the world i t seems, v i r t u a l l y t r a v e l l i n g en masse, p a i n l e s s l y and p o i n t l e s s l y . July thousands . . . m i l l i n g around the a i r p o r t , streams of t r a f f i c , mobs of t o u r i s t s , even a stampede . . . dingy women teeming into the departure lounge.16 In t h i s stream of people, L i s e i s going "Nowhere s p e c i a l " to look for what she c a l l s "the lack of an absence"."^ Her b i z a r r e quest as i t turns out, for a lover/murderer, shapes the narrative into a savage, contorted parody of the quest form and of the Nouveau Roman, by v i r t u e of the French novel having provided the a r b i t r a r y time s h i f t s and synchronic patterns of s i g n i f i c a n c e needed to make the heroine's search p a r o d i c a l l y non-sequential. Intermingled i s a c h i l l i n g and grotesque seri e s of pastiches of other l i t e r a r y c l i c h e s — t h e s i n g l e g i r l on holiday looking f o r her i d e a l man, the gothic horror story with i t s omens and clues, and the Jacobean death drama, with i t s ghastly, darkly comic and i n e v i t a b l e end. The novel i s a hideous cartoon of modern unnaturalness, extending out from the synthetic decor to the perverse lack of moral intent i n modern behaviour. Spark manages to be both obsessive and wry i n documenting 65 i t . Her m u l t i p l i c i t y of purposes makes for an even more estranged and p a r t i c u l a r s t y l e than before. R e a l i t y i s at an even further remove from her subject matter and audience, making a p e c u l i a r perceptual t r i a n g l e , i f one i s to understand her intentions. In t h i s n a r r a t i v e , objects, actions and motives are void of a l l but v i s u a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . I t i s a l l a cinematic joke. The heroine meets a woman at an a i r p o r t bookstore, looking for books that are "predominantly pink or green or beige" to match her 18 bedrooms. The v i s u a l surfaces of things have been designed out of a l l s i g n i f i c a n c e . L i s e i s looking for someone to f i l l "the driver's seat". In f a c t , she i s an e x i s t e n t i a l l y disoriented d r i v e r who only thinks h e r s e l f a passenger. She has great and macabre powers of organization, choreographing her own death with considerable s k i l l . She even organizes the car. The novel i s unremittingly grim, the "deathscape" acting as the only force for order i n a s u r r e a l survey of l i f e i n i n t e r n a t i o n a l limbo. In past works, Spark had made an odd and u s e f u l unit of time and landscape—temporal space and s p a t i a l time. I t had been an ordering device. In t h i s work the pattern i s d e l i b e r a t e l y synesthetic, consciously disordered. "Look at ..19 the noxse . . . The novel also provides the "blackest" of Spark's sardonic a r t i s t ' s parables. L i s e arranges the facts and circumstances of her death with minute a r t i s t i c attention to d e t a i l . . . . i t ' s a why'dunnit i n q-sharp major and i t has a message: never t a l k to the sort of g i r l s that you wouldn't leave l y i n g about i n your drawing room f o r the servants to pick up.20 The works i n t h i s most recent stage of Spark's career are, above a l l , technical accomplishments rather than "entertainments". In t h i s novel, 66 for example, she has constructed a microscopic version of the quest form she wishes to parody. She works and reworks i t , o f f e r i n g i n c r e a s i n g l y odd and elegant v a r i a t i o n s on a theme. Within t h i s intense patterning, the s t r i c t relevance of d e t a i l i s even more t i g h t l y c o n t r o l l e d than usual, though s u r r e a l and poetic resonances-—here so b u s i l y g o t h i c — a r e channelled away from the p a r t i c u l a r i t y of d e t a i l and into the elegant superstructure. By the time of w r i t i n g The Driver's Seat, Spark was c l e a r l y preoccupied with one of Robbe-Grillet's concerns: that the quality of s o c i a l observation and the method of presentation are inseparable, and mutually determining. Muriel Spark's moments of t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n had always been (timeless) "moments out of time". Apart from these, however, she had r e l i e d on a c e r t a i n unity of t i m e — a weekend, a n i g h t — t o provide her otherwise " t i l t e d " narratives with coherence. In response to the atemporal Nouveau Roman, Spark too becomes concerned with " e x i s t e n t i a l " time, and she sets about undoing even as much l i n e a r , chronological r e a l i t y as she had r e l i e d on i n the f i r s t place. "Let us not s p l i t hairs when discussing the past, present and future tenses" says one of her characters, when announcing "what i s to come or has already come, according as one's philosophy i s 21 temporal or eternal". He dismisses chronology as "vulgar". And so does Spark from now on. Her new balance of actual and " e x i s t e n t i a l " time i s best seen i n The Driver's Seat, as a kind of i m i t a t i o n of and reply to Robbe-Grillet's 22 Les Gommes. Rea l i t y has always had an unavoidable metaphysical dimension.for Spark, even when that r e a l i t y had to take the form of 67 "magic realism" to confront characters. In taking up some of the narrative propositions and structural elements of the French novel, however, Spark abandons her previous metaphysical referent, along with any redeeming effects of actual time. As Robbe-Grlllet refuses psychology in his text, Spark must refuse "commonplace" time and the anagogical if her novel is to embody consciousness as she now sees i t . In an early dust-jacket description of his novel, Robbe-Grillet said that the subject is a definite, concrete essential event: a man's death. It is a detective story event—that there is a murderer, a detective, a victim. In one sense, their roles are conventional: the murderer shoots the victim, the detective solves the problem, the victim dies. But the ties which bind them only appear clearly once the last chapter ends. For the book is nothing more than the account of the twenty-four hours that ensue between the pistol shot and the death, the time the bullet takes to travel three or four yards—twenty-four hours "in excess."23 Spark's novel is a modified version of this narrative based on the idea of a "time-bubble"—unlived time. Her knowing protagonist also brings to pass what is inevitable. The only reliable structure in the novel is that of the circle of time closing around the protagonist. Time exists only as an accretion of the observer and his situation. External reality, like external time, becomes shifting, hypothetical and uncertain— "vingt-quatre heures en trop"—the time between the protagonists' choice 24 of death and their actual self-realized deaths, here called "murders". The sequence of actions, the periphery of characters and the "props" in these deathscapes are described with abnormal clarity. There is a preoccupation with "stopped movement"—Robbe-Grillet's murderer frozen 68 on the stairs before the act, and Spark's heroine arranging her possessions and her body in tableau, to ritualize the death and the murder-site. These moments, i f they had been lyrically or morally endowed, would have been epiphanous. Here, in these narratives, they are valueless moments, simply clearer than the rest. The clearest of a l l in each case, is the moment of death and the extinction of personality altogether. Both novels have "landscaped" this consciousness of death as i t exists, and is largely absorbed by modern living. For Spark, i t marks a significant translation of her fictional concerns away from transfiguration into that atonal, amoral level of pure existence which can only be represented by surfaces without depths, time without saving moments of transcendence. This process has forced her to consider new narrative structures. She does not dispense with allegory; she simply "deforms" i t in the surrealist manner of deforming to reconstruct, so providing herself with a new surface texture for her fictions. It is depthless, existential and with-out transcendence. In her most recent works, Spark has created "prose mosaics" which successfully facilitate the dual referents of Allegory and Surrealism. Angus Fletcher in Allegory: The Theory of a. Symbolic Mode has described an artistic plane where the two are considered simultaneously. An allegorical world gives us objects a l l lined up as i t were, on the frontal plane of a mosaic, each with its own "true" unchanging size and shape. Alleogry perhaps has a "reality" of its own, but i t is certainly of the same sort that operates in our perceptions of the physical world. It has an idealizing consistency of thematic content, because, in spite of the visual absurdity of much allegorical imagery, the relations between ideas are under strong logical control.26 The texture of allegory is curiously inwrought. It is worked in ornamental detail. It is not realism but surrealism.26 69 This same c r i t i c has drawn the u s e f u l d i s t i n c t i o n between what a l l e g o r i c a l painting f o r example, a c t u a l i z e s , and what a l l e g o r i c a l l i t e r a t u r e leaves to the imagination to "see". The v i s u a l c l a r i t y of a l l e g o r i c a l imagery 27 i s not normal". It does not coincide with what we experience i n normal l i f e . In her recent f i c t i o n , Spark c a p i t a l i z e s more than ever before, on the s u r r e a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s that a r i s e from and between the t r a d i t i o n a l l y d i s j o i n t e d meanings involved i n allegory: the need for at l e a s t two attitudes of mind to i n t e r p r e t two or more l e v e l s of meaning. The text i s i n e v i t a b l y d u p l i c i t o u s . There must be a double attention to the surface of the works, and the psychic s i g n i f i c a n c e which resides purely there, given that she has discounted image-making as a f i c t i o n a l base. The Takeover, published i n 1976, intended as a parable of the pagan seventies, i s set i n another version of the s u r r e a l l y abstracted landscape— 28 m a t e r i a l i s t i c , polyglot, Euroland. Like The Mandelbaum Gate, her only other f u l l - l e n g t h novel, The Takeover has a precise h i s t o r i c a l sense, which provides a c e r t a i n m e t a - f i c t i o n a l complexity. It was intended i n 1 9 7 6 — r e f e r r i n g to 1973—to be a novel of our times,, that i s another study i n contemporary depthlessness. To sustain reader i n t e r e s t , she necessarily makes the surface texture of the novel very r i c h , incorporating a s u r r e a l mythological past into her a l l e g o r i c a l present, and depicting the whole on one plane, as mosaic. In t h i s novel Spark i s landscaping her version of the second Dark Ages. . . . at dinner they spoke to Hubert of Nemi to where they were a l l planning shortly to return. It was not i n t h e i r minds at t h i s time that t h i s l a s t quarter of the year they had entered, that of 1973, was i n f a c t , the beginning of something new i n the world: a change i n the meaning of money and property.29 70 Spark does not here simply refer to inflation or the effects of war, although both are implied in . . . a sea change in the nature of reality . . . such that what were assets were to be liabilities and no armed guards could be found and fed sufficient to guard those armed guards who failed to protect the properties they guarded.3^ The novel's richly crowded surface is underscored by the Diana of Nemi myth. Its sexual proclivities and silly spectacles strangely similar to those "cosmic happenings" of the early seventies, do much to conceal slight though sincere concern from Spark, to qualify modern caricatured existence, with genuine, i f ambiguous, mythic resonance. The allusion is a joke to begin with. The novel's setting and the myth's, is the Lake of Nemi in the Alban h i l l s , famously described by Sir James Frazer in the opening chapter of The Golden Bough, as the site for a macabre pagan custom which launched him on his quest for the sources of religion and magic. The living incarnation of the myth in Spark's hands is Maggie, fabulously rich, glamourously American and with "a floodlit look up to 31 the teeth!.'. In her keeping, the myth becomes a pernicious mixture of fraud, superstition and public relations. The novel is finally, however, an ironic appraisal of those who have the wit to survive pervasive moral anarchy, by whatever means. At the close of the novel, the heroine, steeped in moneyed adversity and dressed in rags to avoid kidnapping, survives, cheerfully and resourcefully as people always have, by fair means and foul. . . . gleaming through i t a l l she was . . . she said goodnight very sweetly. And lifting her dingy skirts picked her way along the leafy path, hardly needing her flashlamp, so bright was the moon, three quarters f u l l , illuminating lush lakeside, and in the fields beyond, the kindly fruits of the earth. 3 2 71 There i s i n this novel a f a m i l i a r Sparkian equilibrium, elegant and contradictory, which manages to sustain both the s o c i a l l y n i h i l i s t i c reading and that which says "myth l i v e s . " The most perfect and recent of her mosaic creations i s T e r r i t o r i a l Rights. Its ce n t r a l structure i s a Venetian mosaic, once more on the theme of empty Western decadence as a shattered fragmentation of the r e a l . Technically, i t i s a study i n the inverted s i g n i f i c a n c e , or the complete i n s i g n i f i c a n c e , of the moment. Time i n Spark's novels i s s t i l l the a r b i t r a r y continuum suggested by Robbe-Grillet. Robert and Anna were having a drink i n a bar i n T r i e s t e , smiling at each other. A middle-aged man i n a business s u i t approached them. "What do you want?" Robert s a i d . "I'm a talent spotter. You two have got everything. You've got s t y l e . You can make the top." As a r e s u l t of th i s meeting Robert and Anna were sent to the Middle East to t r a i n i n a t e r r o r i s t camp. Thus Spark dispenses with her protagonist. She dispenses with narrative d e t a i l , the aesthetic "imperative claims of Venice" for example, i n the 34 same ruthless fashion. When d e t a i l i s elaborate or evocative, i t i s to make perspective even more precarious than usual. The s u r r e a l and the a l l e g o r i c a l meet head on, and there are no clear v i s u a l equivalents f o r the constructions that r e s u l t . Her s t y l e has become disembodied, sensory baroque. Lina Pancev l i v e d i n a room perched at the top of one of these narrow houses. From the s t r e e t , t h i s room projected l i k e a long b i r d , a dangerous piece of masonry, yet not dangerous presuming the b i r d could f l y . The beak protruding from i t s small.window was at the moment devoid of i t s washing, and the small;black mouth was shut, unlike the windows underneath i t , set further back i n the bu i l d i n g . To reach the hovering a t t i c i t was necessary to climb i n the f i r s t place f i v e twisting f l i g h t s of s t a i r s , each step of which was worn to a t h i n curve i n the centre. 72 The iron banister, wrought in curly patterns on the lower floors, soon became a rusty, twisting strip, too shaky and broken to depend upon. The sight and smell of rats, cats and garbage at the entrance, changed as the climber proceeded, to the smell of something or other more frightful. Then with the staircase left behind, came the testing part; the challenge: a pair of builder's planks about three feet in length led from the landing, itself slanting by a few degrees, across to the threshold of Lina Pancev's eyrie . . . the building was at least three centuries old, and the planks themselves looked as i f they had been there for at least ten years; and how the jutting room where Lina lived defeated the law of gravity to the functional extent -it did, perhaps not even the original constructors had known.55 Although Spark's narrative detail adheres to a certain kind of naturalism in its "hyper-real" observation, i t is also opaque, its organization fundamentally disjointed. The "hovering attic" is both a perfect allegorical representation of the heroine's precarious existence, and a fitting container for the otherwise disembodied narrative facts which make up 36 the mosaic •••of' the novel. The familiar landmarks of Spark's plots are s t i l l visible: murder, intrigue, endless spying and blackmail. They are now neutralized, however, quite disqualified from reality by their new coding in the mosaic form. They are intended to "defamiliarize" rather than verify the reader's perception of actual objects and sequences of events. Only form is reliable. There are no longer individual items, people or moments of "essential" significance. The work must be read a l l of a piece as a poly-semantic work of chronologically and spatially displaced images connected by logic and polish. . . .tire canals lapped at the sides of the banks, the palaces of Venice rode in great state and the mosaics stood with the same patience that had gone into their formation, piece by small piece. 37 In an interview in 1970, Muriel Spark described one of her poems, "The Card Party," thus: 73 "I think i t ' s a l i t t l e b i z a r r e and grotesque, and i t hasn't got any moral noticeably. It's j u s t a l i t t l e b i t of s u r r e a l i s t fact."38 A f t e r forays into various n o v e l i s t i c techniques, incorporating, by stages, the a l l e g o r i c a l , the s a t i r i c a l , the transcendent and the s u r r e a l , Spark f i n a l l y returns i n her recent novels, to her i n i t i a l point of departure i n p o e t r y — " a l i t t l e b i t of s u r r e a l i s t f a c t . " NOTES CHAPTER ONE ^ Angus Fletcher, Allegory: The Theory of a_ Symbolic Mode (New York: Cornell Univ. Press, 1964), p. 379. 2 Muriel Spark, The Go-Away Bir d and Other Stories (London: Macmillan, 1958). 3 Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), p. 9v. 4 Harold Bloom, A Map of Misreading (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1975), p. 10. ~* Bloom, Anxiety, p. 11. Muriel Spark, "Against the Transcendentalists," i n Collected Poems (London: Macmillan, 1952). ^ Charles Baudelaire, La Fanfarlo (Monaco: Editions du Rocher, 1957). g i b i d . p.. 48. -9 i b i d , p 57. xhid. p. 4/. Thomas Mann, "Tonio KrHger," i n Stories of Three Decades (London: Seeker and Warburg, 1946), pp. 87-88. 12 „ , , . "' ' " , Baudelaxre, Fanfarlo, p. 60. 75 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 ibid. P- 75. ibid. P- 77. ibid. P- 79. ibid. P- 77. ibid. P- 71. ibid. P- 51. ibid. P- 50. ibid. P- 90. ibid. P- 94. ibid. P- 52. Muriel Spark, "The Balad of the Fanfarlo," in Collected Poems I. All further references will be from this edition. xbid. p. 16. 2 5 Baudelaire, Fanfarlo, p. 51. 26 ibid, p. 87. 27 Enid Starkie, From Gautier to Eliot, the Influence of France on English Literature, 1851-1939 (London: Hutchinson, 1960), p. 167. 28 T.S. Eliot, "Baudelaire," in Selected Essays (London: Faber & Faber, 1932), p. 43. 29 T.S. Eliot, "The Lesson of Baudelaire," in "Notes on Current Letters," Tyro, London, I (Spring 1921). 30 Spark, "The Seraph and the Zambezi," in the Go-Away Bird and Other Stories., p. 174. All further references will be from this, edition. 31 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "A very Old Man with. Enormous Wings," in Leaf Storm and Other Stories, trans. Gregory Rabassa (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), p. 105. 76 Muriel Spark, "The Nativity," iri Collected Poems I. Spark, "Against the Transcendentalists," in Collected Poems I_. Eliot, "Baudelaire", Selected Essays, p. 43. NOTES CHAPTER TWO 1 Muriel Spark, "The Reli g i o n of an Agnostic: A Sacramental View of the World i n the Writings of Proust," Church of England Newspaper, 1953. Muriel Spark, "My Conversion," Twentieth Century, Autumn 1961. 27 Nov.  2 Muriel Spark, The Mandelbaum Gate (London: Macmillan, 1965) p. 63. 3 p. 151. 4 Muriel Spark, Robinson (London: Macmillan, 1958), p. 9. ^ Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London: NLB, 1977), pp. 159-235 Benjamin, p. 163. 7 i b i d . p. 181. g Rene Girard, Desire, Deceit and the Novel, trans. Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1965), p. 195. 9 Peter Kemp, Muriel Spark (London: Elek, 1974), p. 9. i b i d . p. 10. Spark, Robinson, p. 10. Ibid. p. 12. 77 78 13 Muriel Spark, "How I Became a No v e l i s t , " Books and Bookmen, Nov. 1961. p. 683. 14 Girard, Desire, p. 195. Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean. Brodie (London: Macmillan, 1962) . Muriel Spark, The G i r l s of Slender Means (London: Macmillan, 1963) . Muriel Spark, The Hothoiise by the East River (London: Macmillan, 1973) 18 Spark, Jean Brod 19 i b i d . P- 43. 20 i b i d . P- 42. 21 i b i d . P- 38. 22 i b i d . PP . 9-10. 23 i b i d . P- 12. 24 i b i d . P- 40. 25 i b i d . P- 30. 26 i b i d . P- 31. 27 i b i d . P- 58. 28 i b i d . P- 93. 29 i b i d . P- 90. 30 i b i d . P- 152. 31 i b i d . P- 135. 32 i b i d . P- 165. 33 i b i d . P- 148. 79 i b i d . p. 31. 35 i b i d . p. 8. 3 6 i b i d . p. 49. 37 Muriel Spark, "Speaking of Writing," The Times, 21 Nov. 1963, p. 18. Spark, G i r l s of Slender Means, p. 1. 39 i b i d . p. 2. 40 Spark, "Speaking of Writing". 41 Spark, G i r l s of Slender Means, p. 1. 4 2 i b i d . p. 14. 4 3 i b i d . pp. 18-19. 44 i b i d . p. 74. 45 i b i d . p. 89. 46 i b i d . p. 180. 47 i b i d . p. 152. ^ i b i d . p. 114. 49 i b i d . p. 183. 5 0 i b i d . p. 181. i b i d . p. 63. 5 2 i b i d . pp. 85-86. 53 T.S. E l i o t , The C o c k t a i l Party (London: Faber & Faber, 1950). 54 Spark has progressed from awkward p i l f e r i n g from E l i o t i n her early p o e t r y — " A hot coming/He had of i t I'm s u r e " — t o a sophisticated 'incorporation of h i s motifs i n t h i s example of her mature f i c t i o n . One i s further reminded of her awareness of E l i o t ' s plays i n her a r t i c l e , "The Dramatic Works of T.S. E l i o t " i n Women's Review No. 5., 1949. 55 Spark , Girls of Slender Means, p. 18. 56 Muriel Spark, Memento Mori (London: Macmillan, 1959) 57 Spark, Hothouse, p. 2. 58 ibid. PP . 15-16. 59 ibid. P- 13. 60 ibid. P- 101. 61 ibid. P- 4. 62 ibid. P- 33. 63 ibid. P- 30. 64 ibid. P- 63. 65 ibid. P- 139. 66 ibid. P- 44. 67 ibid. P- 59. 68 ibid. PP . 34-35. 69 ibid. P- 90. 70 ibid. P- 160. 71 ibid. P- 167. 72 ibid. P- 34. 73 ibid. P- 40. 74 ibid. P- 42. 75 ibid. P- 42. 76 ibid. P- 42. 77 ibid. P- 19. 78 Peter Kemp, Muriel Spark, p. 148. 81 79 Muriel Spark, The Comforters (England, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1963), p." 44. 80 Spark, Hothouse, p. 44. ^ i b i d . p. 34. 8 2 i b i d . p. 168. 83 i b i d . pp. 135-6. 84 Peter Kemp, Muriel Spark, pp. 152-3. i b i d . p. 36. Iri The Mandelbaum Gate, musing on such w r i t e r s , Barbara Vaughan mentally characterized t h e i r productions as " r e p e t i t i o n , boredom, despair, going nowhere for nothing, a l l of which conditions are enclosed i n a t i g h t , unbreakable statement of the times at hand," (p. 1 8 8 ) — an observation that provides an accurate summary of The Driver's Seat (and l a t e r novels). As i n the Nouveau Roman, there i s constant and meticulous d e s c r i p t i o n , repeated catalogueing of external d e t a i l s , "the drama of exact statement." (Observer Colour magazine, Nov. 7th, 1971. p. 73). NOTES CHAPTER THREE 1 M u r i e l Spark, The P u b l i c Image (London: Macmillan, 1968). 2 Muriel Spark, T e r r i t o r i a l Rights (London: Macmillan, 1979) 3 Spark, P u b l i c Image, p. 58. 4 Muriel Spark, Not to Disturb (London: Macmillan, 1971), p. ^ Spark, Public Image, p. 141. 6 i b i d . p. 192. ^ i b i d . p. 32. ^ i b i d . p. 41. 9 i b i d . p. 92. 1 0 Peter Kemp, Muriel Spark, p. 122. 1 1 Spark, Pu b l i c Image, p. 42. 1 2 Muriel Spark, The Driver's Seat (New York: Knopf, 1970). 1 3 Muriel Spark, The Abbess of Crewe (New York: Viking, 1974) 1 ^ Spark, P r i v e t ' s Seat, pp. 19-20. i b i d . p. 80. 1 6 i b i d . p. 105. ^ i b i d . p. 75. i b i d . p. 151. 82 83 19 Spark, Not to Disturb, p. 17. 2 0 A l a i n Robbe-Grillet, Les Gommes (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1953) 21 Bruce Morrissette, A l a i n Robbe-Grillet (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1965. p. 34. 22 i b i d . p.. 35. 23 Angus Fletcher, Allegory, pp. 104. 24 i b i d . p. 108. 25 i b i d . p. 102. p f. Muriel Spark, The Takeover (London: Macmillan, 1976). 27 i b i d . p. 14. i b i d , p. 32. 29 i b i d . p. 51. 30 i b i d . p. 223. 31 Spark, T e r r i t o r i a l Rights, p. 238. 32 i b i d . p. 41. 33 i b i d . pp. 16-17. 34 i b i d . p. 18. 35 i b i d . p. 240. 3 6 Derek Stanford, Muriel Spark; a Biographical and C r i t i c a l Study (Sussex: Centaur Press, 1963), p. 25. BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources A l i g h i e r i , Dante. La Divina Commedia. Ed. C. H. Grandgent. Rev. Charles Singleton. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1972. Baudelaire, Charles. La Fanfarlo. Monaco: Edit i o n s du Rocher, 1957. E l i o t , Thomas Stearns, The C o c k t a i l Party, A Comedy. London: Faber & Faber, 1950. Garcia, Marquez Ga b r i e l . Leaf Storm & Other S t o r i e s . Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. Mann, Thomas. Short Stories of Three Decades. London: Seeker & Warburg, 1946. Proust, Marcel. A l a Recherche du Temps Perdu. Ed. P i e r r e Clarac & Andre Ferre. P a r i s : Gallimard. Robbe-Grillet, A l a i n . Les Gommes. P a r i s : Editions de Minuit. Spark, Muriel. The Abbess of Crewe. New York: Viking Press, 1974. Collected Poems I. London: Macmillan, 1967. The Comforters. Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1963. . The Driver's Seat. New York: Knopf, 1970. The G i r l s of Slender Means. London: Macmillan, 1963. The Go-Away Bird and Other S t o r i e s . London: Macmillan, 1958. The Hothouse by the East River. London: Macmillan, 1973. 84-85 Spark, Muriel. Memento Mori. Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1961. . Not to Disturb. London: Macmillan, 1971. . The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. London: Macmillan, 1961. The Takeover. London: Macmillan, 1976. . The Public Image. London: Macmillan, 1968. . Robinson. Harmondsworth Eng.: Penguin Books, 1964. T e r r i t o r i a l Rights. London: Macmillan, 1979. Secondary Sources Balakian, Anna. L i t e r a r y Origins of Surrealism: A New Mysticism i n French Poetry. New York: New York Univ. Press, 1965. Surrealism: The Road to the Absolute. New York: Noonday Press, 1959. Benjamin, Walter. The O r i g i n of German Tragic Drama. Trans. John Osborne. London: NLB, 1977. Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. A Map of Misreading. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1975. Bree, Germaine. The World of Marcel Proust. Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1966. C l i f f o r d , Gay. The Transformations of Allegory. London: Routledge & Paul, 1974. Deleuze, G i l l e s . Proust and Signs. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: G. B r a z i l l e r , 1972. E l i o t , Thomas Stearns. "The Lesson of Baudelaire." Tyro I (Spring 1921). Selected Essays. London: Faber & Faber, 1958. Fletcher, Angus. Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Univ. Press, 1964. 86 Girard, Rene. Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other i n L i t e r a r y Structure. Trans. Yvonne Freccero. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1965. Proust: A C o l l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l Essays. Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.: Prentice H a l l , 1962. Heath, Stephen. The Nouveau Roman: A Study i n the P r a c t i c e of Writing. London: Elek, 1972. Kadi, Simone. Proust et Baudelaire: Influences et A f f i n i t e s E l e c t i v e s . P a r i s : La Pensee U n i v e r s e l l e , 1975. MacQueen, John. Allegory. London: Methuen, 1970. Mathews, James. The Imagery of Surrealism. Syracuse: Syracuse Univ. Press, 1977. Morrissette, Bruce. A l a i n Robbe-Grillet. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1965. Pi e h l e r , Paul. The Visionary Landscape: A Study i n Medieval Allegory. Montreal, M c G i l l : Queen's Univ. Press, 1972. Poulet, Georges. Proustian Space. Trans. E l l i o t t Coleman. Baltimore: John Hopkins Univ. Press, 1977. Spark, Muriel. "The Dramatic Works of T. S. E l i o t . " Women's Review 5, 1949. : . "How I Became a N o v e l i s t . " Books and Bookmen. Nov. 1961. "My Conversion." Twentieth Century. Autumn, 1961. "The R e l i g i o n of an Agnostic: A Sacramental View of the World i n the Writings of Proust." Church of England Newspaper. 27 Nov., 1953. : , "Speaking of Writing." The Times. 21 Nov., 1963. Stanford, Derek. Muriel Spark: A Biographical and C r i t i c a l Study. Sussex: Centaur Press, 1963. Starkie, Enid. From Gautier to E l i o t , the Influence of France on English  L i t e r a t u r e , 1851-1929. London: Hutchinson, 1960. Wolitz, Seth. The Proustian Communities. New York: New York Univ. Press, 1971. 

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0094898/manifest

Comment

Related Items