Muriel Spark--Two Instances


from The Finishing School
Muriel Spark

We find, now, Nina, taking one of her casual afternoon comme il faut talks, as she called them. . . .

"In case you are thinking of getting a job at the United Nations," Nina told them, "I have picked up a bit of information which may be useful, even vital to you. A senior member of the U. N. Secretariat passed it on to me especially for you young people. First, if you, as a U.N. employee are chased by an elephant stand still and wave a white handkerchief. This confuses the elephant's legs. Second, if chased by a large python, run away in a zigzag movement, as a python can't coordinate its head with its tail. If you have no time to run away, sit down, with your back to a tree and spread your legs. The python will hesitate, not knowing which leg to begin with. Get out your knife and cut its head off."

"Suppose there isn't a tree to lean against?" Lionel said.

"I've thought of that,"said Nina, "but I haven't come up with an answer."

And quite a bit later in the book

The prior, who had a becoming white beard, caused them to be served carrot juice, which was, he held, a good drink for high altitudes. The friars made a wine which they sold to merchants in the French valleys. On the labels, in English, it was pronounced to have "a great personality in the mouth, savoring of prunes, tobacco, wild fruits."

These are some of the delights that await the reader of Muriel Spark. I've always enjoyed her prose and it seems a more fitting tribute than I could write to enjoy some of her novels and make them known to others. In that way, even as she enjoys the life of the world to come, she has a presence with us here and we can enjoy her company.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 28, 2006 10:56 AM.

Continuing Conversion was the previous entry in this blog.

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