Ninety-Nine Novels: Two Novels by Muriel Spark
- 12th October 2022
- Blog Posts
In 1984, Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
In this episode, Andrew Biswell of the Burgess Foundation speaks to writer and editor Alan Taylor about two novels by Muriel Spark: The Girls of Slender Means and The Mandelbaum Gate.
Born in 1918, Muriel Spark was a novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. Her novels are celebrated as pioneering works of postmodernism and she was twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She is best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brody, which was adapted for the screen in 1969. She lived in Edinburgh, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), New York, Rome, and latterly in Tuscany, where she died in 2006.
Alan Taylor is the author of Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark. In 2018, he was the series editor of Spark’s Collected Novels, published by Polygon to celebrate her centenary. He was the founding editor of the Scottish Review of Books and the Managing Editor of the Scotsman. He is a long-standing member of the Scottish team on BBC Radio 4’s Round Britain Quiz. Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, edited by Alan Taylor, is out now.
Books mentioned in this episode
By Muriel Spark:
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
- Loitering with Intent (1981)
- Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1606)
- The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens (Anonymous, 1765) [Full text at the Scottish Poetry Library]
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
- The Wreck of the Deutschland by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918) [Now published in The Major Works]
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (1945)
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)
- Tremor of Intent by Anthony Burgess (1966)
- The Clockwork Testament by Anthony Burgess (1974) [Now published in The Complete Enderby]
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré (1974)
- A Perfect Spy by John Le Carré (1986)
- Muriel Spark: The Biography by Martin Stannard (2009)
In Series One of Ninety-Nine Novels, we learnt about authors including James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Naipaul and Alan Sillitoe, among others. These episodes are available at your favourite place to get podcasts.
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
If you have enjoyed this episode, why not leave us a review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to this podcast below or on your audio platform of choice (Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Spotify/ YouTube), or use the streaming links below.
The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.