Writers with witty conversations, publishers with Bole spirit, mountainous volumes and good smell of ink…When mentioning the world related to books and literary creation, I believe many people will think of such a warm and elegant scene. However, in the writing of the famous British novelist Muriel Spark, the “literary circle” is not as peaceful and beautiful as a filter, but full of troubles that make people laugh and cry.
Muriel Spark (1918-2006) is an influential British writer in the world. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, lived in the United States and Italy all her life, and worked in foreign affairs departments and magazines when she was young. Muriel’s rich and unique works are famous for her humorous writing style and serious and realistic topics. She has won many awards including the Booker Prize. The film, which won an Oscar. The two representative works written by her in her later years, “Thoughts” (1981) and “Old Things in Kensington” (1988), are vivid reproductions of the world of books she is familiar with—the literary circle and the publishing industry. People helpless and ironic events.
”Premeditated” is like a complex portrait of writers and writers, centered around the heroine Freyle who aspires to become a writer: she is conceiving her first novel, and by chance she joins the “Autobiographical Society” and is in charge of Polishing up the members’ autobiographies, unexpectedly the leader of the society, Sir Quentin, is an evil man who is keen on manipulating people’s hearts. As a result, Fleur’s novels seem to meet reality, and strange things happen one after another… “Once Upon a Time in Kensington” presents the bizarre scene of the publishing industry: Mrs. Hawkins, a young widow, is a publisher. The editor of the news agency, she is upright and outspoken, and directly calls a crappy literati who is stalking her as a “manuscript peeer”. Therefore, she suffers a series of deliberate retaliations, as if caught in a well-woven mystery: she loses her job repeatedly, her life suffers Severe damage, people around you are threatened and killed…
When these two books were written, Muriel was already over seventy years old. The accumulated long writing career provided valuable material for this novelist. her literary thoughts. They are like “sister stories”, with some similar characteristics and cores: focusing on the London literary world after World War II, showing the weirdness of the cultural circle and the image of a free and independent heroine in the 20th century, mixed with suspense The process of “solving the case” and so on. Following Muriel’s words, readers seem to experience time and space transformation, and personally travel to the literary world of London, England in the 1940s, and take a “retro style” roaming between books and literati.
Mrs. Hawkins in “Once Upon a Time in Kensington” is a kind and trustworthy publisher editor. At the age of 27, she is already a war widow. Comes with a laugh, and her integrity in the professional field is awe-inspiring; Fleur in “Thinking” is a writer, she treats life and interpersonal relationships with a relaxed and playful attitude, as if wandering Outside of reality, use everything you observe as the material for literary creation, and fully enjoy the gift of life. Despite their differences, they share an inspiring common denominator: integrity and candor. Mrs. Hawkins looked down on bad writing and immoral writers, and repeatedly refused to publish the works of low-level literati. Her creed is: “If people are not honest, no life can go on satisfactorily.” Write Sir Quentin’s despicableness into the novel, even if you lose the chance to publish it, don’t modify it. They all annoyed evil people because of their exploration and persistence of truth and morality, which led to constant troubles in their lives. However, they also all have the bravery of “not eating fireworks in the world”, never backing down in the face of malice and revenge, and giving each other a “shoulder throw” in a chic manner, making evil eclipsed in front of justice. Throughout the narrative, the indomitable optimism and firm belief of the two female characters are like intermittent but coherent drumbeats, injecting light into the haze in the story.
In addition to the two heroines, Muriel has also created a variety of three-dimensional characters that seem to be flesh and blood, many of which reflect the contrast in personality and present a comic-like sense of humor. The “authority” of the author, the narcissistic and narrow-minded, untalented literati, the partner of the publishing house who lacks professional vision in selecting writers and works… These vivid characters take turns to build a post-World War II London for readers. The stage scene of the literary circle.
Writers, publishers, academic societies… The intellectual world where literati come and go always seems to give people an elegant impression of “spring and snow”, but in Muriel’s works, the literary world is no longer as glorious as imagined, just like a star stepping off the stage, It shows the readers the true face without a face, full of astonishing oddities, and this “reality” also makes people feel a subtle sense of intimacy and humor. In “Old Things in Kensington”, readers can get a close look at the operation of the British publishing industry after World War II (perhaps also today’s publishing industry in various countries) and a series of troubles it faces: poor management and bankruptcy, meager Salaries, tenuous ties to powerful people, connections trying to get in, stalking authors hoping to publish their crappy stuff. Muriel’s description is so realistic: “I am tired of the whole publishing world, longing to be able to walk into a bookstore like before, choose a book, and don’t want to know all the production process behind it.” It’s kind of cute because it’s real.
At first glance, both novels have serious themes, about the relationship between art and reality, and the contest between justice and evil. Their narratives are also closely integrated with reality, and they are almost true reflections of the background of the times, social environment and the author’s own experience. . But the charm of Muriel’s writing is that it can make readers feel a different kind of humor beyond the “sit tight” of the story, as she herself said: “It is always my first goal to make people happy. “She said that she regards writing as the happiest way of expression, and she is very good at using humor and wit, so that pleasant feelings come from time to time between the lines. In the two works, the protagonist commented on the development of the incident and related details with a “venomous” irony from the perspective of the narrator, so that the whole story will not be overwhelmed by the tense rhythm, and the whole story is full of lightness and clarity. atmosphere of. On the other hand, the author infuses the story with insights clearly distilled from his personal life, injecting fresh energy and fun into the text. For example, in “Thinking Out of Mind”, Muriel uses Fleur’s words to tell readers some “truths”, such as: Insomnia is not necessarily a bad thing, its quality depends entirely on what the insomniac is thinking; If you can’t concentrate, then raising a cat would be a good way; losing weight can be successful, and the secret is to secretly cut your food intake in half…Similar sentences are serious and have some unusual fun, which often makes people feel uncomfortable. The reader pauses for a moment to think, and can’t help laughing.
Muriel Spark wrote a large number of novels in her life, covering a wide range of subjects. The two “sister chapters” of “Thoughts” and “Once Upon a Time in Kensington” are like creating a relaxed and enjoyable visit to the London literary circle, guided by Muriel, a senior writer in the industry; and here During the journey, what you feel may not only be pure pleasure from words, but also sources of power such as art, hope, morality, justice, etc., which are waiting for you to discover, and then follow the laughter.