Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Spark, Muriel

(1918-2006) Scottish novelist, long resident in London, much of whose fiction – whether or not a particular title happens to be a Supernatural Fiction – engages in a variety of Godgame manoeuvres. God Himself, or various Trickster figures within the texts, or the implied author of those texts, constantly manipulate(s) the texture of Reality, playing cardsharp games with Time and narrative. It is, therefore, sometimes difficult to know if a supernatural (as opposed to a gamelike or allegorical) reading is intended.

MS's first novel, The Comforters (1957), however, is relatively easy to understand as supernatural. Its writer protagonist comes to believe – with reason – that someone or something, God or simply an Author, is "writing" her; in the end, the Book being written turns out to be The Comforters. Other characters appear and disappear according to whether or not they are "needed" by the ultimate Author of the text within which they are trapped. Memento Mori (1959) is also a supernatural fiction; its depiction of elderly people combines gerontological coldness and religious intensity, as a telephone voice – perhaps God's – foretells the deaths of various cast members. The protagonist of The Bachelors (1960) is a medium (> Spiritualism) whose powers seem genuine. The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) is dominated by a figure who may well be the Devil. The Hothouse by the East River (1973) is a complex and rather cruel Posthumous Fantasy.

More routinely, several of MS's short stories – notably those in The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories (coll 1958) – deal with the supernatural; The Stories of Muriel Spark (coll 1987) contains these and some additional examples. Child of Light: A Reassessment of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1951; vt Mary Shelley: A Biography 1987 US) is a competent study of Mary Shelley; it won a 1988 Bram Stoker Award. [JC]

other works: Robinson (1958), which makes nonfantastic use of Robinsonade motifs.

Muriel Sarah Spark


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.