Fear and Pity, Pity and Fear: Rereading Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat in the Age of #MeToo

Timothy C. Baker (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat (1970) is a staple of the Scottish literary curriculum. I have taught it virtually every year of my career, in courses on both ethics and space, and as an example of both Scottish and postmodern fiction. The novel, which seems to tell the story of a woman seeking her own murder, has frequently been approached as a literary puzzle and an opportunity to reflect on questions of fate and free will. Readers have long been divided about the novel’s merits, either approaching the novel in terms of its events, in which case it is “a book of singular cruelty and shocking misanthropy” (Jordison), or treating it as a philosophical exercise, where it can be seen, in the words of one recent critic, as an account of the “relationship of the self to the Other and to death within the universe as defined by existentialism” (Craig 118).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalFRAME, Journal of Literary Studies
Volume32
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Fingerprint

Pity
Rereading
Muriel Spark
Novel
Postmodern Fiction
Universe
Teaching
Merit
Reader
Fate
Exercise
Free Will
Murder
Curriculum
Cruelty
Existentialism

Cite this

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title = "Fear and Pity, Pity and Fear: Rereading Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat in the Age of #MeToo",
abstract = "Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat (1970) is a staple of the Scottish literary curriculum. I have taught it virtually every year of my career, in courses on both ethics and space, and as an example of both Scottish and postmodern fiction. The novel, which seems to tell the story of a woman seeking her own murder, has frequently been approached as a literary puzzle and an opportunity to reflect on questions of fate and free will. Readers have long been divided about the novel’s merits, either approaching the novel in terms of its events, in which case it is “a book of singular cruelty and shocking misanthropy” (Jordison), or treating it as a philosophical exercise, where it can be seen, in the words of one recent critic, as an account of the “relationship of the self to the Other and to death within the universe as defined by existentialism” (Craig 118).",
author = "Baker, {Timothy C.}",
note = "I am indebted to my students for their seminar contributions, and particularly Caitlin Beveridge, Anita Markoff, and Darryl Peers for subsequent reflections and comments. I am also grateful to Katherine Furman for first introducing me to Manne’s work.",
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