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Title: Transfiguring betrayal : reading Muriel Spark's postmodernism
Authors: Lok, Joshua Cheng Huai
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature
Issue Date: 2019
Source: Lok, J. C. H. (2019). Transfiguring betrayal : reading Muriel Spark's postmodernism. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: This dissertation approaches Muriel Spark’s postmodernism from the presentation of betrayal in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). Since betrayal consists in threading the intertwined nature of art and reality, it exposes reality to be intractably multiple and endlessly rewritable. Reality exists as potential for transfiguration and, through betrayal, is ever on the cusp of actualising into other artful possibilities. Betrayal is thus as an art form with postmodern edge. Chapter I first establishes how there are no clear distinctions between reality and art. Reality is, in fact, a matter of art. It focuses on how Jean Brodie’s artistry achieves a modernist reappraisal of reality but also attains to a manner of postmodern incredulity. Although Jean Brodie’s artistry takes on disquieting proportions when she extends it to dominate and control, a nascent postmodern impulse is at play. Chapter I also lays out how Spark’s use of prolepsis distorts the narrative of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and lays the ground for a fundamental reevaluation of Sandy’s betrayal of Jean Brodie. Thereafter, Chapter II takes on Spark’s own notion that causality is not chronology and scrutinises the deep ambiguities generated by prolepsis as concerns Sandy’s betrayal of Jean Brodie. In contradistinction to critical consensus, Chapter II posits Sandy’s betrayal to be the last in a series of moves steeped in an artistic vision and an economy of artistic method she learns from Jean Brodie. It contends that instead of turning against and away from Jean Brodie, Sandy advances and refines her artistic vision to the very limits of human possibility. By more carefully tracing betrayal as art, Chapter II finds that Sandy’s betrayal carries the postmodern potential in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as it dramatises the bidirectional and reversible dynamics between a modernist epistemological dominant and a postmodernist ontological dominant. Finally, this dissertation concludes by extrapolating from Muriel Spark’s art of betrayal in reading Memento Mori (1959) and The Finishing School (2004). It charts a discernible postmodern thrust as explored in Chapters I and II against a broader context of Spark’s works. For reading Muriel Spark’s postmodernism through betrayal factors as a point of departure for a longer study that promises a fruitful reassessment of her oeuvre.
DOI: 10.32657/10220/47857
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Theses

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