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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Author(s): Muriel Spark

Location(s): Edinburgh

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1930s

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In 1930s Edinburgh, six ten-year-old girls, Sandy, Rose, Mary, Jenny, Monica, and Eunice are assigned Miss Jean Brodie, who describes herself as being “in my prime,” as their teacher.

Miss Brodie, determined that they shall receive an education in the original sense of the Latin verb educere, “to lead out,” gives her students lessons about her personal love life and travels, promoting art history, classical studies, and fascism.

Under her mentorship, these six girls whom Brodie singles out as the elite group among her students—known as the “Brodie set”—begin to stand out from the rest of the school. However, in one of the novel’s typical flash-forwards we learn that one of them will later betray Brodie, ruining her teaching career, but that she will never learn which one.

Romantic, heroic, comic and tragic, unconventional schoolmistress Jean Brodie has become an iconic figure in post-war fiction. Her glamour, unconventional ideas and manipulative charm hold dangerous sway over her girls at the Marcia Blaine Academy – ‘the crème de la crème’ – who become the Brodie ‘set’, introduced to a privileged world of adult games that they will never forget.

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