Death and Dying in Literature
Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett
Chapter Ten: In The Driver’s Seat: Death and Isolation in Muriel Spark’s Postmodern Gothic
| 139 →
In The Driver’s Seat
Death and Isolation in Muriel Spark’s Postmodern Gothic
The Driver’s Seat (1970) is a fascinating and complex story of a woman, Lise, who, for unspecified reasons, plots her own murder. Nominated for the Lost Booker Prize in 2009 and written in the style of the nouveau roman, it is one of Muriel Spark’s most interesting and elusive novels. By blending both postmodernist techniques and the themes of a Gothic, particularly the representations of death and friendship, Spark has created a “metaphysical shocker” (Kemp 173) which truly stands out from the rest of her oeuvre and, indeed, from other contemporary texts.
Although she evokes the Gothic, she does not merely ape it. The threat in the Gothic is often just that—a threat. It lurks around corners yet is never, or rarely, executed. Death in the works of most Gothic authors is tragic to the hero or heroine because it threatens to separate them from their loved ones, and only by experiencing symbolic deaths can lovers become reunited. In this aspect, The Driver’s Seat is almost an exact inverse of a typical Gothic novel, as, for Lise, literal death is the only means to approach a personal relationship. The “boyfriend” to whom she refers throughout the text is, in fact, her murderer; the only character with whom she is shown to approach a friendship is his aunt, not...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.