From Love to Grief
Edited By Wojciech Drąg and Ewa Kębłowska-Ławniczak
Wojciech Kozak - Envy Revisited: Muriel Spark’s The Finishing School
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Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin
Envy Revisited: Muriel Spark’s The Finishing School
Muriel Spark’s novel The Finishing School, published in 2004, has met with a largely unfavourable, if not hostile, reception. Critics have found the book crude and tedious (Eilberg 22), have written that it “reads more like a parody of a Muriel Spark novel than the real thing” (Kakutani) and called it “an embarrassment” (Crumey).1 These charges are refuted by John Lanchester, who, referring to the term coined by Edward Said, interprets the book as a manifestation of “lateness” in Spark’s fiction, explaining that works written at the end of an author’s literary career “combine an absolute control and mastery with a kind of sketchiness, a speedy glossing-over of the aspects with which the artist can no longer be bothered” (193). The question of The Finishing School being a masterpiece aside, it is interesting to have a closer look at Spark’s last novel, for, in many aspects, it does sum up her literary achievement by making use of her favourite techniques and returning to a number of issues that lie at the core of her writing.2 Among them is the feeling of professional envy, to which the author was frequently exposed, especially at the beginning of her literary career.3 ← 205 | 206 →
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