The heyday of Miss Jean Brodie


October 17, 2021

The heyday of Miss Jean Brodie or The Teacher (original title: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) is a novel by the British writer Muriel Spark, which was first published in full in the New Yorker in 1960. Spark was the first British author to have the prestigious magazine devoted an entire issue. The publication in the USA led to wide public awareness there, after it had previously had few readers in that country. The novel was published in Great Britain on October 14, 1961, without initially benefiting from its success in the USA. However, the short novel ultimately represented the breakthrough as an author for Muriel Spark. She herself described the novel, which found a wide reading audience, especially after the 1969 film adaptation with Maggie Smith in the lead role, as her "dairy cow" because of its role as a reliable source of income The non-chronologically narrated novel, set in Edinburgh in the 1930s and whose protagonist is the eccentric, fascism-inclined teacher Miss Brodie, is Spark's best-known work and is considered a 20th century classic. Time included the novel in its list of the Top One Hundred English-Language Novels Since 1923. In 2015, 82 international literary critics and scholars voted the novel one of the most important British novels. In German, the translation of the novel by Peter Naujack appeared for the first time in 1962 under the title The Teacher in the Diogenes Verlag in Zurich.


Six ten-year-old students at the Marcia Blaine Girls' School, namely Sandy, Rose, Mary, Jenny, Monica and Eunice, are described by their teacher Miss Jean Brodie as the elite of their students. Brodie is determined to give them an education that will lead them out in the original sense of the word "educere" and thus prepare them for life. The emphasis is on leadership, because one of Miss Brody's idols is Benito Mussolini. She tells the girls about their personal love life and their travels and teaches them art history, the history of antiquity and fascism. The six students are increasingly separating themselves from the rest of the school and are referred to as the Brodie troupe. In one of the fade-aheads of the novel, however, the reader learns that one of them will one day betray Brodie and thereby end her teaching career. However, Jean Brodie will never know who this was. In the following school year, the girls, Gordon Lowther, received the handsome, one-armed war veteran Teddy Lloyd, a married Catholic with six children, as a singing teacher and an art teacher. Both teachers are drawn to Jean Brodie; however, she only shows feelings for Teddy Lloyd. However, there is only one kiss between Jean Brodie and Teddy Lloyd, which Monica accidentally observes. During a two-week absence from school, Jean Brodie begins an affair with Gordon Lowther on the grounds that a bachelor would make a more respectable lover. During this period, a man exposes himself to Jenny. The police investigation into the incident leads Sandy to see himself as part of a fictional police force seeking incriminating evidence of Brodie and Lowther's relationship. The girls are transferred to secondary school together at around the age of twelve. Jean Brodie stays in contact with them and invites them to his home as before. The school principal Miss Mackay tries to break up the group and get incriminating information from them about Jean Brodie in order to be able to release them. On several occasions, Miss Mackay has unsuccessfully suggested to Jean Brodie to apply to a more progressive school. When two teachers, the Kerr sisters, start looking after Mr. Lowther's household together, Brodie tries to help them with i

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