Complete Short Stories
284 pages

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284 pages

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From the cruel irony of 'A member of the Family' to the fateful echoes of 'The Go-Away Bird' and the unexpectedly sinister 'The Girl I Left Behind Me', in settings that range from South Africa to the Portobello Road, Muriel Spark coolly probes the idiosyncrasies that lurk beneath the veneer of human respectability, displaying the acerbic wit and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her unique talent. The Complete Short Stories is a collection to be loved and cherished, from one of the finest short-story writers of the twentieth century.



Publié par
Date de parution 18 août 2011
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780857862990
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0600€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


'A wholly original presence in modern literature' Andrew Motion
'My admiration for Spark's contribution to world literature knows no bounds. She was peerless, sparkling, inventive and intelligent - the creme de la creme' Ian Rankin
'One of this [20th] century's finest creators of the comic-metaphysical entertainment' New York Times
'Muriel Spark's novels linger in the mind as brilliant shards, decisive as a smashed glass is decisive' John Updike, New Yorker
'She can be compared to Evelyn Waugh . . . but there's Chekhov here, and a tincture of Stevie Smith . . . polished . . . individual . . . exacting' Daily Telegraph
'Spark is a natural, a paradigm of that rare sort of artist from whom work of the highest quality flows as elementally as current through a circuit: hook her to a pen and the juice purls out of her' New Yorker
'It is perhaps her short stories that demonstrate her gifts best: wit, perception, acute characterisation, elegance and precision. They mark her out as one of the finest writers of her generation' Observer
'Muriel Spark has made herself a mistress at writing stories which seem to trip blithely and bitchily along life's way until the reader is suddenly pulled up with a shock recognition of death and judgment, heaven and hell' London Review of Books
'All [the stories] are hallmarked with those instantly identifiable Sparkian qualities; brevity, detachment and a sly, sinister wit' Literary Review
'Dullness is as alien to her as inelegance' New Statesman and Society
Also by Muriel Spark
FICTION The Comforters Robinson The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories Memento Mori The Ballad of Peckham Rye The Bachelors Voices at Play The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie The Girls of Slender Means The Mandelbaum Gate The Public Image The Driver s Seat Not to Disturb The Hothouse by the East River The Abbess of Crewe The Takeover Territorial Rights Loitering with Intent Bang-bang You re Dead and Other Stories The Only Problem The Stories of Muriel Spark A Far Cry From Kensington Symposium Reality and Dreams Aiding and Abetting The Finishing School
CHILDREN S FICTION The French Window The Small Telephone The Very Fine Clock
PLAYS Doctors of Philosophy
POETRY Going Up to Sotheby s
AUTOBIOGRAPHY Curriculum Vitae
ESSAYS The Essence of the Bront s

This digital edition published in Great Britain in 2011 by Canongate Books, 14 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TE
First published in Great Britain in 2001 by Viking, Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL
Copyright Copyright Administration Limited, 2001 Introduction copyright Janice Galloway, 2011
The moral rights of the authors have been asserted
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available on request from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 78689 001 6 eISBN 978 0 85786 299 0
Typeset in Goudy by Palimpsest Book Production Ltd, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
Introduction by Janice Galloway
The Go-Away Bird
The Curtain Blown by the Breeze
Bang-Bang You re Dead
The Seraph and the Zambesi
The Pawnbroker s Wife
The Snobs
A Member of the Family
The Fortune-Teller
The Fathers Daughters
Open to the Public
The Dragon
The Leaf-Sweeper
Harper and Wilton
The Executor
Another Pair of Hands
The Girl I Left Behind Me
Miss Pinkerton s Apocalypse
The Pearly Shadow
Going Up and Coming Down
You Should Have Seen the Mess
Quest for Lavishes Ghast
The Young Man Who Discovered the Secret of Life
Daisy Overend
The House of the Famous Poet
The Playhouse Called Remarkable
Ladies and Gentlemen
Come Along, Marjorie
The Twins
A Sad Tale s Best for Winter
Christmas Fugue
The First Year of My Life
The Gentile Jewesses
Alice Long s Dachshunds
The Dark Glasses
The Ormolu Clock
The Portobello Road
The Black Madonna
The Thing About Police Stations
A Hundred and Eleven Years Without a Chauffeur
The Hanging Judge
by Janice Galloway
They are my own secret rules but they arise from deep conviction. They cannot be formulated, they are as sincere and indescribable as are the primary colours; they are not of a science, but of an art.
The voice of Lucy, The Fortune Teller , Muriel Spark
I met Mrs Spark for the first time in specious surroundings. The place was a television studio where a pilot chat show in the guise of a dinner party hosted by the comedienne Ruby Wax was about to be filmed. I was first to arrive, and nervous. Jeremy Hardy and Dr Jonathan Miller were next, and Mrs Spark, five foot one and not small at all, joined us to make the full quartet. Our job was to chat and be natural whilst poking rocket leaves about with our forks, all the while ignoring the cameras and crew as they lurked and tiptoed under quasi-intimate low lighting. Everything was odd. Ms Wax looked unsettled, Dr Miller began to assume the manner of someone suffering from status anxiety and Mr Hardy was, despite his best attempts, too frequently sidelined to bring us together. Only Mrs Spark, her hair subtly curled, was unruffled. She looked coolmaxed. Even amused.
Maybe that s what years and reputation do for you, I thought; maybe she s senior enough and f ted enough not to give much of a toss. The more I watched, however, the more I realised that that wasn t it. Dame Muriel was comfortable , not bored. The work I knew and loved came to mind as I focussed on her expression, her mannerisms: all those tales fraught with tripwires and trapdoors, spies, eavesdroppers and voices offstage; those inexplicably discomfited atmospheres in which banalities and non sequiturs filled in for conversation. And I got it. The great writer, a watcher since childhood, was enjoying watching us struggle to be normal. In terms of her literary preoccupations, this was terra entirely cognita. She was, almost, at home.
If writing came naturally to Muriel Spark - and she insists it did - so did her material. She specialises in paradox, danger, assumption, the Great Unseen. In her stories and novels, even in her biographies of Mary Shelley and Emily Bront , the air crawls with treachery and half-truths. Characters pilfer, conceal and betray. Wrong ends of sticks poke out at you from thickets and something, somewhere, is on the prowl, keen to shiver your spine as it walks across your grave. Is it a monster, bad luck or simple comeuppance? Is it the residue of God s relentless wrath against the unfortunate Job? That, dear reader, is up to you. Reading Muriel Spark s stories demands a little reading between their lines. Furthermore, though much has been made of her Catholic conversion (most of it useful as a herring in a box of fireworks), no ecclesiastical empathy or insight is required to love her keen eye for human frailty or her near-Calvinist skepticism - even from those who tell you to question everything. Beware of writers , she asserts. Beware of me.
Muriel Camberg was born in 1918 in Edinburgh, the daughter of Jewish and English Anglican parents. Her background was, in her own words, humble - it sounds nicer than working class in the douce Scottish capital - and her relatives were plain . Isolated, curious, Muriel found much entertainment in her mother s English idioms, and an early preoccupation with listening and detecting nuance honed what would become her fine ear for dialogue in later life. To add further spice, the gentile jewess enjoyed a sound Presbyterian education at James Gillespie s School and read the bloody, crow-picked Scots-English Border ballads - one of the cornerstones of Scottish literature - for pleasure. After a brief secretarial course at Heriot-Watt College, she dispensed with formal education altogether as dull . After a few years of office work, she turned refugee by marrying Oswald Spark (as much for his tickets to Rhodesia as anything else) and shipping off to Africa, where things went from bad to potentially fatal. Her near-miraculous escape after Mr Spark threatened to shoot her brought her home, thankful and in desperate need of a living wage. Handing over her baby to the grandparents in Bruntsfield allowed her to hare off to the safety of the biggest city on offer, where concealment was not only possible but easy. In London, and in poverty, she let poetry, the hallucinogenic side-effects of Dexedrine and the Catholic Church provide both her break and her fresh, new start with quite literal blessings.
Keeping her husband s name as a souvenir and a metaphor, Mrs Spark began her writing life in earnest in her early thirties. Her first novel, The Comforters - a book about writing a book, a talking typewriter, delusion and overcoming crisis - set it on course. Her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae , covers these events as though consigning them to a bonfire before swiftly moving on: I only made it about those days because after that, everybody knew what I was doing. I was writing.
She was writing a lot. In London, New York and Italy, while constantly moving to avoid enemies , crowds and constricting cliques, she produced twenty-two novels, a sheaf of poems, one play and two brace of stories in a non-stop career that lasted four and a half decades. In all of her work her voice is unmistakable: flexible, shrewd, crackling with life. That voice could have been pared back as the years went by, but she started as she meant to go on, and refused to settle into any one tradition. Her work takes what it needs from crime stories, ghost stories, parody, camp and kitchen-sink realism and weaves it all together in a way that is both clipped and freewheeling, saturnine and light, allusive, direct, playful, serious and straight to the point. Even in the slighter pieces of word-play (now and then she opts for simply amusing herself), fewer words are always more. I sometimes think, she confessed, that a novel is a kind of lazy way of writing a short story, a short story a lazy way of writing a poem. The longer they be

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