Muriel Spark’s comic and macabre novels (Memento Mori, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) won her fans for life. Her essays are equally delectable. She is pithy, precise, and wide-ranging in this collection of her thoughts on love, literature, the Book of Job, art, TS Eliot, Venice, cats, envy, cruelty, history and myth, among others. Penelope Jardine, her literary executor, selected these gems from her writings between 1950 and her death in 2006.
On Mrs Gaskell: “a provincial, materialistic, self-satisfied humbug.” On the Brontës as teachers: “I suggest that if anything could equal the misfortune of their lot as teachers it was the lot of the respective students and employers of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne.” On rewriting: “I dislike going back over my work−I always feel I might turn into a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife.” (New Directions)