1. bookVolume 37 (2021): Issue 1 (December 2021)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1841-964X
First Published
01 Jan 2012
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

“In came the self-evident and luminous little mess”: Ethical Life Writing in Muriel Spark’s Loitering with Intenti

Published Online: 30 Dec 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 37 (2021) - Issue 1 (December 2021)
Page range: 48 - 67
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1841-964X
First Published
01 Jan 2012
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

Starting from a brief examination of Muriel Spark’s position as a Scottish novelist within the framework of her anti-essentialist, anti-authoritative aesthetics, my essay will take a seemingly abrupt, but in fact consequential turn to investigate the complex antinomies involved in her fictional representation of the lives of others. Although at home and abroad she is hailed as Scotland’s most celebrated author of the twentieth century, Spark’s writerly practice consists of regularly dismantling grand narratives or fixed, stable identities, often clashing with more localized or prescriptive views on the social and national functions of narrative. My argument, however, is that it is the very unease of her “Scottishness” that acts as one of the foundations of her literary ethics, embodied in her acute awareness of the antinomies involved in textualizing the lives of others. Spark’s shrewdly metafictional Loitering with Intent (1981) openly thematizes both the obligation, and the risks of telling one’s own and other people’s stories, performing a radical ethics of narrative alterity through its staging of the enmeshments of writing, (auto)biography and experience.

Keywords

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