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APS TOGETHER

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark Day 6

October 6, 2020 | Finish Ch. 3, pp. 70-78

The transfiguring power of the incongruous adverb: “Jenny, out walking alone, was accosted by a man joyfully exposing himself beside the Water of Leith.” Even on the subject of flashers, we can expect Spark to say the unexpected.


“‘Nasty’ or ‘nesty’?” Why does this pronunciation provoke Sandy’s revulsion? Is it too provincial & Scottish-sounding, lacking the elegant English vowels for which she is famous? Or does she associate ‘nesty’ w/ nests, eggs, the icky end product of sex?



At 11, my daughter also developed a strong dislike for the word “nasty” (especially how her classmates pronounced it: “naaaahsty”). The other word she despised the sound of was “cohort.” Now “nasty” feels inseparable from Trump’s misogynistic use of it.



Sandy’s ongoing fantasies about the “wonderful policewoman” (Sgt. Anne Grey—a delightfully sober name bestowed by Sandy) further encourage me to read her character through a queer lens. A pattern is emerging, esp. as revealed via Sandy’s inner life.



“Alan Breck clapped her shoulder and said, ‘Sandy, you are a brave lass’” VS “Sgt. Anne pressed Sandy’s hand in gratitude; and they looked into each other’s eyes, their mutual understanding too deep for words.” A semicolon lets us linger on their touch.



See also: Sandy & the Lady of Shalott; Sandy’s rapturous description of Miss Lockhart & the science room; Sandy wondering “if Jenny, too, had the feeling of leading a double life, fraught with problems that even a millionaire did not have to face.”



Even in her fantasy world, Sandy still wears her hat in the same way she does at school: “So Sandy pushed her dark blue police force cap to the back of her head.” The commingling of fantasy and reality is a tendency in both Miss Brodie and her girls.



“We’ve got to find out more about the case of Brodie.” The real heart of the investigation is not what Miss Brodie is doing with Lowther/Lloyd/Rose but how Sandy feels about it; she’s grasping at “something,” trying to “work out her reasons.” Repeatedly.



They placed Miss Brodie on the lofty lion’s back of Arthur’s Seat, with only the sky for roof & bracken for a bed.” Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano, which makes the girls’ chosen location for Miss B & Mr. L’s sexual intercourse all the funnier to me.


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