Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Marcia Blaine Academy for girls, a special place where young girls should be prepared for life. Miss Jean Brodie teaches her girls according to the latest methods – or what she believes is useful for her bunch. Miss Brodie is in her prime, her most valuable years in life and she enjoys travelling across Europe and telling the girls about her experiences. Only her love life is rather a tragedy, her fiancé died on the battlefield during WW I. The girls admire her and closely observe her relationship to the male teachers, but her colleagues and especially the headmistress only wait for their chance to get rid of the quite alternative teacher.

An acclaimed novel which could not get me at all. The puns are great and Muriel Spark’s writing is also really joyful to read, but the story did not really convince me. For my taste, it lacked development in the characters, most is just plainly presented and stated, hardly any subtleties can be found. This makes it all a bit too blunt and rarely appealing to me. I was looking for the undertones that I could not find, waiting for surprising twists and turns which did not come. So, I am mostly disappointed by it. It actually took me three times to finally reach the end, even though it is quite a shirt text – I should have been warned.

Antoine Leiris – You will not have my hate

When the world suddenly is not the same anymore because terrorist have just killed your wife…

Antoine Leiris – You will not have my hate

Friday, 13th November 2015. Antoine is at home with his son while his wife went to a concert. The rather slow evening is interrupted around 10:30 by a number of text messages asking him if he is ok. At first, Antoine wonders about these texts, but then he turns on TV and sees what is happening in his hometown Paris: a group of terrorists attacks the football stadium where the national team fights against the Germans and there have been shootings in town. Also in the Bataclan theatre – the club his wife went to enjoy herself. Antoine calls her repeatedly. No answer. The next morning, he checks on all hospitals. No one knows her there. Then he has to accept the fatal truth: she is among the victims. The following days, he lives like having mist in front of his eyes and not seeing clear. He does not really understand what is happening, he tries to keep up the normal rhythm for their son Melvil, and he is looking for an adequate answer to the all but simple question „How are you?“.

„You will not have my hate“ was Antoine Leiris‘ immediate reaction to the events in Paris last November. In the evenings he sat down in front of his computer and noted down what came to his mind. It is not a fictional story; it does not offer any answers or explanations. It is the immediate reaction to a world in turmoil, a world that cannot be understood, a world which does not exist anymore. It was not meant to be published, it was a way of letting out what was inside Antoine and as such it is a very personal report on how he felt and what he experienced in the first days after the events.

Antoine became known through an open letter to the terrorists posted on Facebook and was shared thousands of times. He refuses to show the expected reaction; he does not want to grant the attackers the fame they look for. He managed to express a very new and different kind of feeling towards those people who drove the country into mourning again. He misses his wife, he does not know what the future will be like without her, how his son will finally cope with the new circumstances, but he definitely will not give up, but live on. And in this way, he expresses what other cannot say by do also feel.

Why do we read these kinds of texts, dairies from the author’s hardest moment in life? I think it is useful to understand the feelings of the people affected, to get a more concrete and personal point of view and to make the event less something that we see on TV but more a real thing, something that happens to people and whose lives will be changed forever. Antoine Leiris‘ documentation is especially striking because it is not only an adult who is affected but also a young boy who cannot yet full understand the situation. Additionally, he does neither embellish nor aggravate since he does not analyse but inly document, which provides an immediate impression on what this day meant for him. A closer look and insight is hardly possible.