THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark (hier online bestellen)
In 1930s Edinburgh, six ten-year-old girls are assigned Miss Jean Brodie, self-described as in her prime, as their teacher: Sandy, Rose, Mary, Jenny, Monica, and Eunice (only the first two of them are major figures). Miss Brodie, intent on their receiving an education in the original sense of the Latin verb educere, "to lead out", gives her students lessons about her personal love life and travels, promoting art history, Classical studies, and fascism. Under her mentorship, these six girls whom Brodie singles out as the elite group among her students — known as the "Brodie set" — begin to stand out from the rest of the school. However, in one of the novel's typical flash-forwards, we learn that one of them will later betray Brodie, causing her to lose her teaching job, but that she never learned which one.
In the Junior School, they meet the singing teacher, the short Mr Gordon Lowther; and the art master, the handsome, one-armed war veteran Mr Teddy Lloyd, a married Roman Catholic man with six children. These two teachers form a love triangle with Miss Brodie, each loving her, while she only loves Mr Lloyd. Brodie never, however, overtly acts on her love for Mr Lloyd except once to exchange a kiss with him, which is witnessed by Monica.
During a two week absence from school, Brodie enters into an affair with Mr Lowther on the grounds that a bachelor makes a more respectable paramour: she had renounced Mr Lloyd as he was married. At one point during these two years in the Junior School, Jenny is "accosted by a man joyfully exposing himself beside the Water of Leith". The police investigation of the exposure leads Sandy to imagine herself as part of a fictional police force seeking incriminating evidence in respect of Brodie and Mr Lowther.
Once the girls are promoted to the Senior School (in the seventh year of school, around age twelve) though now dispersed, they hold on to their identity as the Brodie set. Brodie keeps in touch with them after school hours by inviting them over as she used to do when they were her pupils. All the while, the headmistress Miss Mackay tries to break them up and compile information gleaned from them into sufficient cause to fire Brodie. Miss Mackay, in the novel (but not in the 1969 film) younger than Brodie, had more than once suggested to Miss Brodie that the latter seek employment at a 'progressive' school; Brodie declined to move to what she describes as a 'crank' school. When two other teachers at the school, the Kerr sisters, take part-time employment as Mr Lowther's housekeepers, Brodie tries to take over their duties. She sets about fattening him up with extravagant cooking. The girls, now thirteen, visit Miss Brodie in pairs over at Mr Lowther's house, where all Brodie does is ask about Mr Lloyd in Mr Lowther's presence. It is at this point that Mr Lloyd asks Rose, and occasionally the other girls, to pose for him as portrait subjects. Each face he paints ultimately resembles Miss Brodie, as her girls report to her in detail, and she thrills at the telling. One day when Sandy is over visiting Mr Lloyd, he kisses her.
Before the Brodie set turns sixteen, Brodie tests her girls to discover which of them she can really trust, ultimately settling upon Sandy as her confidante. Miss Brodie, obsessed with the notion that Rose (as the most beautiful of the Brodie set) should have an affair with Mr Lloyd in her place, begins to neglect Mr Lowther, who ends up marrying Miss Lockhart, the science teacher. Another student, Joyce Emily, steps briefly into the picture, trying unsuccessfully to join the Brodie set. Miss Brodie takes her under her wing separately, however, encouraging her to run away to fight in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist (pro-Franco) side, which she does, only to be killed in an accident when the train she is travelling in is attacked.
The original Brodie set, now seventeen and in their final year of school, begin to go their separate ways. Mary and Jenny quit before graduating, Mary to become a typist and Jenny to pursue a career in acting. Eunice becomes a nurse and Monica a scientist. Rose lands a handsome husband. Sandy, with a keen interest in psychology, is fascinated by Mr Lloyd's stubborn love, his painter's mind, and his religion. Sandy and Rose model for Mr Lloyd's paintings with Sandy's knowing that Brodie expects Rose to become sexually involved with Lloyd. Rose, however, is oblivious to the plan crafted for her and so Sandy, for five weeks during the summer, now eighteen and alone with him in his house while his wife and children are on holiday, has an affair with Mr Lloyd herself. Over time, Sandy's interest in the man wanes while her interest in the mind that loves Jean Brodie grows. In the end, Sandy leaves him, adopts his Roman Catholic religion, and becomes a nun. Beforehand, however, she meets with the Miss Mackay and blatantly confesses to wanting to put an end to Brodie. She suggests that the headmistress accuse Brodie of encouraging fascism, and this tactic succeeds. Not until her dying moment a year after the end of World War II is Brodie able to imagine that it was her confidante, Sandy, who betrayed her. After Brodie's death, however, Sandy, now called Sister Helena of the Transfiguration and author of The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, maintains that "it's only possible to betray where loyalty is due". One day when an enquiring young man visits Sandy at the convent because of her strange book on psychology to ask what were the main influences of her school years, "Were they literary or political or personal? Was it Calvinism?" Sandy says: "There was a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime."
About the author:
Muriel Spark's first novel, The Comforters, was published in 1957. It featured several references to Catholicism and conversion to Catholicism, although its main theme revolved around a young woman who becomes aware that she is a character in a novel.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) was more successful. Spark displayed originality of subject and tone, making extensive use of flashforwards and imagined conversations. It is clear that James Gillespie's High School was the model for the Marcia Blaine School in the novel.
Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the US Ingersoll Foundation T. S. Eliot Award in 1992 and the David Cohen Prize in 1997. She became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993, in recognition of her services to literature. She has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, in 1969 for The Public Image and in 1981 for Loitering with Intent. In 2010 Spark was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize of 1970 for The Driver's Seat.
Broschiert: 128 Seiten
Verlag: Klett (Mai 2011)
Preis: € 7,99