Perhaps it is that particular literary quality, her poet’s rigorous understanding of what another modernist, D. H. Lawrence, called “the jump of words along the line”—when set against the easy-to-read “Miss Jean Brodie,” with its mass-market appeal—that has confused her Scottish and British readers for so long. Was she serious, or in the blockbuster business? It’s a perfect example of Scottish antisyzygy, a mind-set that holds within it two completely opposite ways of being… Where does she belong? For readers who like their writers straightforward, that they may more easily describe their art, Spark is a challenge: a split self of a woman who spells, like all Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes, nothing but trouble… She created novels that are laugh-out-loud funny, while turning the mind to the gravest, deepest concerns of human life: Why are we here? What is our purpose? What do we know?
(Kirsty Gunn, “How Muriel Spark Came Home to Scotland,” The New Yorker, 12-19-18)
(c) 2018 JMN.