The Go-Away Bird
One of Muriel Spark’s longest stories, “The Go-Away Bird,” focuses on a young woman and her plight in a British colony in Africa. The central character, Daphne, is caught between two cultures and struggles to find her identity and safety. Spark’s stories are layered and textured, highlighting the struggles of many diverse characters.
Spark began her career with a short story published in the Observer in 1951. Her stories soon became acclaimed internationally, earning her several awards. These awards include the David Cohen Prize for Literature, the Ingersoll T.S. Eliot Award, and the Boccaccio Prize for European Literature. She died in 2006 and is a celebrated author.
Spark’s short stories are often filled with humor and dark themes. She contrasts the innocent fears of children with the serious cruelty of adults. In “The Twins,” Spark explores the cruel behavior of seemingly polite children who abuse their adults.
In “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” Muriel Spark’s protagonist, Daphne, was orphaned at six years old. She grew up on an uncle’s farm in Southern Africa, where she often heard the go-away bird’s call. After the war, she moves to London and falls in love with an artist named Ralph. They decide to return to her Uncle’s farm in Africa.
Spark’s stories often have an African theme. In “The Dry River Bed,” Spark wrote about life in a settlement. She wrote a radio play about a settler, “The Portobello Road,” and a sequel to “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Borden Reeves, a settler, has a secret. He’s “half black,” which proves to be a barrier in his marriage.
The Seraph and the Zambesi
Muriel Spark’s first major novel was a collection of short stories set in Africa. The stories focus on different parts of the continent and the people who live in them. Spark also explores the attitudes towards white people, including how they treat the natives. In her short stories, she satirizes settler life and uses a number of racist terms to make her point. “The Dry River Bed” is the sequel to her novel “The Portobello Road.” In it, a settler, Borden Reeves, has a secret – he’s “half black,” which proves to be a stumbling block to marriage. His secret causes him to become bound up with three other figures, including a priest who can help him overcome his problem.
The book’s setting is a place near the Victoria Falls in Africa. The setting is exotic and the characters are very real, including a seraph. The first example of this is the Zambesi prayer. This is an example of a literary creation, and Spark incorporated this element into her story.
Spark’s writing has received little critical attention. Her long narrative poem, “The Ballad of the Fanfarlo”, was published in 1951 and echoes the Border Ballads. In this poem, Muriel Spark borrowed two characters from Baudelaire’s short story, “La Fanfarlo,” for her own characters. ‘The Seraph and the Zambesi’ won the “Observer” Christmas competition in 1951.
Spark’s story is arguably the first postmodern magic-realist work by a British author. It is also linked to Spark’s struggle to clarify her own voice and long journey toward religious faith. Spark’s work is not only the product of her faith but of her poetic sensibility and literary gift.
The Portobello Road
In this collection of short stories, Spark explores childhood themes in a complex and affecting way. Often, the author contrasts the innocent fears of children with the cruelties of adults. In “The Twins,” for example, children seemingly nice to everyone exert insidious control over their adult counterparts.
Spark’s work was largely ignored by the New Yorker. She was forced to do an apprenticeship there to get published. Once her reputation was established, Spark continued to send in mostly minor work. However, her more interesting works such as The Comforters, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, and The Girls of Slender Means were not published. Apparently, her style of writing was too dark for the magazine.
Spark’s writing style is a mixture of first-person and third-person narrative. She is adept at creating a strong atmosphere with a dissenting narrative voice. She avoids revealing all the innermost thoughts of her characters, forcing readers to make their own judgments about them. Her novels are considered her strongest genre, but her short stories are equally well crafted. Spark has published several volumes of short stories over the past four decades. While many of the stories are repeated, new ones are added each time.
Spark’s African experiences also infused her writing. Her radio play “The Dry River Bed” satirizes the settler life and is a sequel to “The Portobello Road.” In “The Dry River Bed,” Spark depicts the life of “half-black” Borden Reeves, a settler with a secret. This secret proves to be an obstacle in his pursuit of marriage. The three characters involved are woven together by his secret.
Spark lived and worked in Africa throughout her life. She also gave birth to her only child, Robin, in Southern Rhodesia. She lived in a place that was still very segregated and often racist. This was made possible by the Land Apportionment Act of 1930, which excluded blacks from some areas of the land. In addition, it preserved the best farming land for white settlers.
Bang-Bang You’re Dead
The Scottish writer Muriel Spark writes short stories with witty irony. Her ‘Executor’ follows a young woman trying to finish a manuscript that her famous uncle had begun writing, while her ‘Bang-Bang You’re Dead’ paints a comic picture of colonial life in Africa. Her ‘The Seraph and Zambesi’ tells of a strange visitor at a Christmas pageant. Spark is one of the best living short story writers.
Spark’s satirical novels have been described as unique and often funny, and her wit and economy of prose style have been praised. Although some reviewers have argued that Spark’s Catholic faith interferes with her goals as a novelist, most see a connection between her faith and her satirical vision. Spark moved to Italy in the late 1960s, and died in Florence in 2006.
Muriel Spark was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was educated at James Gillespie’s High School for Girls and Heriot-Watt College. After the war, she was appointed General Secretary of the Poetry Society in London. She also served as editor of the Poetry Review. She also cofounded the Forum Stories and Poems journal.
Spark’s work is charged with a mixture of love and hate. The exotic African setting, with its savage power and exotic nature, was a frequent theme. The author’s use of Rhodesian language reflects the romance and savagery of the continent. African animals were also often compared to the moon or a leopard in Spark’s poems.
In 1958, Dame Muriel Spark released her novel Memento Mori. It is a novel that looks at aging and mortality. With its sharp language and imagery, Spark dissects the human condition and strips away the thin veneer of pretense, deceit and delusion. This witty and incisive novel is a fascinating look at human nature.
Muriel Spark’s novel Memento Mori examines the complexities of aging and the effects of death on the elderly. The characters’ paths from their youth to their current state are varied and fascinating, and we’ll be reminded that aging does not have to be painful.
The 1950s saw the rise of the social realism novel, a genre based on the gloomy reality of post-war British society. In this novel, the author reveals new tensions within the social structure in a dispiriting manner. In the previous novel, the protagonist, Eric, wrote two dispiriting works of this type. In Memento Mori, Spark veers from this model to create a genuinely unique novel.
Spark’s incisive writing style, reminiscent of that of a specimen in a petri dish, allows the reader to focus on a character’s flaws while still determining his or her moral core. Interestingly, her protagonists in the novels sometimes survive, while others don’t. However, the protagonists of the book are remarkably convincing, and the author uses the skill of subtle observation to make them seem like real people.