Unfinished Business: Muriel Spark and Hannah Arendt in Palestine

Martin McQuillan

in Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748637744
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652143 | DOI:
Unfinished Business: Muriel Spark and Hannah Arendt in Palestine

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The Mandelbaum Gate is by some distance the longest novel that the famously economic Muriel Spark ever wrote, and as such is uncharacteristic in its formal design and narrative structure. Spark's novels are full of the insufferable suffocation of the group, the institution and the family, in which all difference is annulled in the name of the collective identity, the comme une as the French has it. Self-mythology suggests that Spark, like Hannah Arendt, had attended the trial as a journalist for the Western media. Hannah Arendt and Muriel Spark both wrote for The New Yorker. It would seem that it is harder for Spark to narrativise the complexity of Gentile Jewish identity and the history of Israel-Palestine in the form of the novella than it is for the proverbial camel to pass through the Mandelbaum Gate. In general, The Mandelbaum Gate is unique amongst Spark's work.

Keywords: Muriel Spark; Hannah Arendt; The Mandelbaum Gate; The New Yorker; Gentile Jewish identity; Israel; Palestine

Chapter.  6006 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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