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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Cover has four very small corners bent and worn, a few very small dents around edges, wear on either end of spine, crinkling on spine, several small and a few long creases on front and back, and a few dimples. Inside of front cover is a small light brown spot. A few pages have a few tiny black spots. First page has a small black spot and is crinkled. A few pages are slightly curled on two small corners. Otherwise, inside is pristine! Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping!
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The Comforters (New Directions Revived Modern Classics) Paperback – September 17, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Revived Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (September 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811212858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811212854
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Spark's 1957 first novel caused quite a stir among the critics, who found her a novelist worth watching. Nearly 30 years later, one can say positively that they were right. Her many fans will be happy to see this again.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Spark's 1957 first novel caused quite a stir among the critics, who found her a novelist worth watching. Nearly 30 years later, one can say positively that they were right. Her many fans will be happy to see this again.” (Library Journal)

More About the Author

Muriel Spark (1918-2006) was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel in 1957. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), considered her masterpiece, was made into a stage play, a TV series, and a film. Spark became a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Alex D. Groce on July 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Muriel Spark's first novel, THE COMFORTERS, is a genuine classic. The intrustion of the "literary device" is marvelous because it is anything but a gimmick. For one thing, the mysterious metafictional typewriter (from an author composing a novel you might be reading) is inspired by experiences Spark describes in her autobiography. Aural hallucinations contributed to two masterpieces of English prose around this time--Evelyn Waugh's THE ORDEAL OF GILBERT PINFOLD takes a different approach, less cosmic and perhaps more comic. In both cases, however, the voices are central to the novel, and provide a marvelous opportunity for conveying a unique (and, I think, in both cases, -true-) view of our world.
The other undercurrent here is Spark's conversion to Roman Catholicism. Caroline's attitude may not be Spark's, but I hope it is--skewering irritating modern Pharisees inside the Church as gleefully as those outside of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sally tarbox on June 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Strange little book with a totally silly plot: Caroline, a recent convert to Catholicism, has started hearing voices and a 'ghost typewriter'.
Meanwhile her (Job's) comforters have their own preoccupations: boyfriend Laurence is investigating his grandmother who is part of a diamond smuggling gang (grandma Louisa is undoubtedly the best drawn character in the book- half gypsy with her Bulgarian cigarettes and taste for cooking offal.)
His mother is only interested in her Catholic charity work, even towards the objectionable Mrs Hogg whom Caroline so dislikes; and her friend the Baron is obsessed with black magic...
Spark's poetic writing shines through; I loved such phrases as 'Louisa sat beside the wireless cuddled in the entrancing carcass of Laurence's voice.'
And I found Ali Smith's introduction (edition ISBN 978-1-84408-553-8) most enlightening once I'd finished the book...but I was glad to get to the end!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Randall L. Wilson on September 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Some writers are like Meryl Streep - they try on different genres, narratives, and subject matter. Others are like Barbara Stanwyck whose range was limited but deep. Muriel Spark who announced her literary concerns in "The Comforters" and spent the next 21 novels building on the work first introduced here was like the latter.

Muriel threw away realism in "The Comforters" by introducing a typewriting ghost that wrestled with the lead character, Carolyn Rose, for control of the novel. But she throws away realism not for its own sake but because she wanted to explore ideas about faith, betrayal and destiny through fiction. She saw realism as a straight-jacket that forced her to spend energy and words on things that didn't further her interests.

Spark was a recently converted Catholic when she wrote her first novel and she explores faith and free well but not in any conventional way. Instead shows faith as complicated and unknowable but existing all the same. Whether in Caroline's desire for celibacy, the crippled Andrew's cure or the pointless retreat of Sir Edward Manders, faith is complicated by human frailty and selfishness.

There is a cheerfulness to auto accidents, deformities and drownings as to any of the other actions. This too would be a hallmark of Spark's fiction. No need to lay it on thick just because something unpleasant happened.

Finally, her portrayal of a gay character is quite explicit for the mid-fifties. She describes the character - Ernest - as a homosexual and has the main character speak highly of him. Yes, there are stereotypical, effeminate characteristics assigned to Ernest but he isn't demeaned by them just described using them. By bringing his homosexuality out in the open and treating it in the breezy fashion with which she treats everything else, Spark make gay Ernest part of the texture of the novel and this gives him a contemporary feel.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann on March 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase
This short novel is surprisingly droll with unexpected plot twists. Written in the 1950's it deals with crime, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality with benign tolerance. The plot, in dealing with auditory hallucinations, may be autobiographical in part. I enjoyed this novel very much and plan on reading other books by this author.
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 2000
Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase
This book's weakest point--a literary gimmick--kicks in early: a writer begins to hear a voice narrating her life, accompanied by, you guessed it, the clicking of typewriter keys. However, as annoying as this trite little device is, it has all but disappeared midway through the book, letting a somewhat more complex concept take over. The plot itself involves smuggling and tangled relationships, with a wink at English Catholicism. In the end, I've given this book four stars primarily because I enjoyed the setting, somewhere between the worlds of "Lucky Jim" and "Excellent Women."
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