Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (76)

This is the story of Miss Jean Brodie, an eccentric Edinburgh schoolteacher, and her special relationship with several of her students.    Rather than school her students in the mundane disciplines that the school requires, Miss Jean Brodie regales them with stories from her own life, instructs them in what she believes to be the finer points in life and tops it off with a laudatory recommendation of Fascism.

I hated Miss Brodie and this book.  She is the worst product of Modern Times, a romantic in the sense that she elevates the personal above the universal.  The only saving grace is that she is brought low by her adherence to that prototype doctrine of the Romantic; her fascism ultimately leads to her dismissal.


Grade: (D)


Muriel Spark Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Muriel Spark
    -ESSAY: On Muriel Spark’s Complicated Balancing of Writing and Motherhood : Begoña Gómez Urzaiz Considers the Competing Demands of Career and Childcare (Begoña Gómez Urzaiz, September 12, 2022, LitHub)
-REVIEW: of Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (Complete Review)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Encyclopaedia Britannica:  Your search: "muriel spark"
    -FEATURED AUTHOR : Muriel Spark From the Archives of The New York Times
    -BIO: Muriel Spark
    -Muriel Spark
    -Spark, Muriel (Medical Humanities)
    -INTERVIEW: CBC Infoculture: Muriel Spark on being shaped by the "real" Miss Jean Brodie
    -Muriel Spark: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie  Class Web Page by English 1106D0  (Dr. Alan R. Young)
    -The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie  By: Muriel Spark (web page designed and maintained by Dr. Morrison's 1106 English class)
    -REVIEW: of Miss Jean Brodie (Martin Price, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: A Character in One of God's Dreams  (PENELOPE FITZGERALD, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of AIDING AND ABETTING By Muriel Spark (Julian Evans, National Post)
    -REVIEW: of Reality and Dreams | By Muriel Spark (David Garner, Salon)
    -PROFILE : Muriel Spark : Lady With a Pen (Marie Arana, Washington Post Book World)
    -REVIEW : Muriel Spark and her ghosts  (Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement)
    -REVIEW : of The Complete Short Stories by Muriel Spark (Sam Leith, booksonline)
    -REVIEW : of The Complete Short Stories (Rebecca Abrams, New Statesman)
    -MODERN NOVELS: THE 99 BEST (Anthony Burgess, NY Times Book Review)
    -Britain's `100 best  books' (Contemporary Review)
    -Librarians Choose A  Century of Good Books (Library Journal)


I thought this was a good story. I am curious to see the movie. I get the impression it will be one of the rare instances where it is better than the book.

- Kelly

- May-24-2007, 15:16


To be realistic, she would have had to have flirted with communism, not fascism, but the book is redeemed somewhat by her getting her comeuppance. Never seen the movie.

- oj

- Nov-05-2003, 12:20


I get the impression that you missed the point. The reader is _supposed_ to dislike Miss Brodie.

The story is a turn on the "beloved teacher"/"changed my life" sentimental stereotype of the kind found in - well, what was that Robin Williams movie?

Yes, the teacher was a glamorous figure to her students (but a rather absurd one to readers), a glamour that comes out of her self-deceiving narcissism, and it was this glamour that enabled her to get such a grip on her students' imaginations, to a very destructive effect.

Did you not notice any of this? Or did the rather too affectionate portrayal of the central character by Maggie Smith mislead you into thinking this was just another woolly reminiscence about great teachers?

- L.MF

- Nov-05-2003, 12:09


It is a perfect, psychological book and very funny sometimes about Miss Jean Brodie and her prime and girls turning in to women. What can you say about Brodie´s generation? Happy/sad? Admirable or not? And what about men?

- Amanda

- Oct-30-2003, 05:34


The fact that anyone is aggitated by the character of Miss Brodie is what makes it such a good book-- it is a book that will affect you. It juxtaposes wit with seriousness, and balances all of the characters and sense of time remarkably well. It is a good book.

- T

- Jul-30-2003, 19:38


I didn't really think that this book was about liking or disliking Miss Brodie, that wasn't the point. I enjoyed it because what I got from it was that it was more about the way that she shaped the lives of these students, students who weren't anything out of the ordinary, and became something different than they might have because of her. I also thought it was refreshingly unsentimental, going in to it I was sure it would be another book about how some marvelous schoolteacher improved the lives of her students through the miracles of education...and it wasn't like that at all. I can see where you are coming from about the personality of Miss Brodie, but I think that the quirkiness and humor in the book made up for her slightly annoying character.


- kat

- May-27-2003, 23:15