David Pryce-Jones

The Prime of Miss Camberg

Muriel Spark: The Biography

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 672pp £25 order from our bookshop

A favourite theme of Muriel Spark’s was the way that people tried to take over the lives of others. For her, the fight to be freely oneself was the one important fight, in literature as in life. To be at the mercy of others was to be their victim, and that was insufferable – how she rejected victimhood! During the last ten years of her life, she used to inveigh against Martin Stannard and this biography that he was proposing. He was made out to be the latest in the line of cheapskates who had tried so frequently and odiously to take over her life. The thousand pages of his first draft were apparently full of errors and absurdities. Through her friendship with Henry Kissinger, for instance, she was said to have helped prolong the Vietnam War. She was not going to be misrepresented, even traduced; she would never volunteer to be a victim. Writs and injunctions hovered in her talk.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,