Carla Sassi deposited Muriel Spark’s Italian palimpsests in the group LLC 20th- and 21st-Century English and Anglophone on MLA Commons 2 years, 2 months ago
Italy was Muriel Spark’s elective country of residence for 40 years, the first decade of which, from 1967, when she settled in Rome, till the end of the 70s, represented one of the most contradictory and yet intellectually fertile periods of Italian modern history. Notwithstanding such long-lasting and meaningful bond, explicitly represented in a number of her works, her complex relationship with the culture and history of this country remains largely under-investigated. The article contends that Italy plays an important role in the shaping of Spark’s literary imagination, and that ‘Italian palimpsests’ can be traced in her work throughout her career. Taking the palimpsest as a trope of transformation and construction that implies border-crossing and transit, the article focuses on four novels – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Public Image, The Takeover, Territorial Rights – which explicitly engage with Italy and Italianness. From her investigation of the aesthetics of Fascism in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, to her re-vision of Italian filmic and popular culture in The Public Image and The Takeover, and her playful representation of the palimpsestic literary imagination of Venice in Territorial Rights, Spark’s engagement with Italy’s high and popular culture is shown to be rich, complex and transformative.