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Robinson (1958)

de Muriel Spark

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When their plane, bound for the Azores, crashes on a tiny island, January Marlow and her fellow survivors become the unwelcome guests of the island's solitary owner, Robinson.
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Perhaps the most absorbing interest in this short novel is the prominence that the Catholic faith takes in Spark's approach to the psychological interpretation of her fellow castaways and of Robinson himself, lord of all he surveys.
It is a very good read. Muriel Spark is a champion at put-downs that are directed at loathsome characters such at fellow cast-away, Tom Wells. Her female hero in this novel (January Marlowe) is a clear headed, decisive woman who gets cross when others behave poorly and worse. I thought her comparison of her two castaway companions with her brothers-in-law clever.
Muriel Spark wrote at a high standard over a long career.
  ivanfranko | Apr 4, 2023 |
A plane on its way to the Azores crashes on a remote volcanic island. The resident and apparent owner of the island (and bibliophile), Miles Mary Robinson, finds three survivors and nurses them back to health. One of these three, January Marlow, a young widow, is the narrator of our story. The other two survivors are Tom, a purveyor of amulets, and Jimmy, a Dutch citizen who seems to be related to Robinson. There is also child on the island, an apparent ward of Robinson.There is no communication with the outside world, no means to get off the island except for a boat that will come in seven or eight weeks to harvest Robinson’s pomegranate crop. The group dynamics are interesting….

There are so many ways one could talk about this small book. I read it because I am reading a book called [Female Maturity from Jane Austen to Margaret Atwood: When Bildungsroman Meets Zeitgeist] by Michael Griffin and I wanted to read this, one of the three books I hadn’t read of the seven discussed. Thus, I was reading with this in mind. That said, the book does bring to mind other “castaway” stories, this one with a female relating the story. I thought about the context in regards to the 1950 era in which it was written. There are the dynamics of three men and only one woman on the island. There are also allusions to classic literature, and a fair bit of discussion of religion, particularly Roman Catholicism. I’m not going to try to weave that all together, instead I will just say that this is an engrossing, entertaining slim book that will have you thinking back to it long after you closed that back cover. ( )
  avaland | Dec 21, 2020 |
As we almost guessed from the title, Spark's second novel turns out to be an island story, complete with a map of the island as frontispiece. Islands in fiction come in two basic categories, the deserted (Robinson Crusoe to Five on a Treasure Island and Lord of the flies) and the Magus-dominated (The Odyssey and The Tempest to The invention of Morel). Needless to say, Spark cunningly manages to combine the two, when Robinson, the Prospero of his eponymous island, goes missing halfway through the book, presumed murdered by one of the three survivors of the plane crash.

But - as we also guessed - there's more to all this than sea changes, strange noises, Prospero's books, secret passages, a plane crash and a murder mystery. That would be barely enough to fill 50 pages in a Spark novel, and we have a good 150 here...

So, there's English social comedy, with the narrator (a slightly bohemian poet and widowed mother) finding that the men she's with on the island strangely remind her of her brothers-in-law, one a pompously respectable doctor, the other an amusing but unreliable bookie. There's Robinson's rather austere and Jansenist version of Catholicism, which makes the narrator, a recent convert, uncomfortable with her own more exuberant faith. There's the occultism of one of the other castaways - as so often in Spark, he's a fraud and a charlatan, but we're left wondering whether there isn't some real evil underlying his self-serving mumbo-jumbo. There's the ambiguous foreigner, Jimmie - said to be a Gibraltarian-born Dutchman - whose sexuality is in question throughout the novel but never quite resolved. And - last but by no means least - there's a pomegranate plantation and a ping-pong-playing pussycat. ( )
1 vote thorold | Oct 1, 2019 |
I like the author's writing style, but the story was lacking. ( )
  Jimena15 | May 19, 2019 |
A strange and quiet little book, but I was captivated from start to finish. Muriel Spark is a brilliant writer. January Marlow is the slightly irritable (but not irritating) heroine I never knew I needed.
  thishannah | Jul 17, 2018 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Muriel Sparkautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
McWilliam, CandidaIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pariser, VanCover photographautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Taylor, AlanPrefácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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If you ask me how I remember the island, what it was like to be stranded there by misadventure for nearly three months, I would answer that it was a time and landscape of the mind if I did not have the visible signs to summon its materiality: my journal, the cat, the newspaper cuttings, the curiosity of my friends; and my sisters — how they always look at me, I think, as one returned from the dead.
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When their plane, bound for the Azores, crashes on a tiny island, January Marlow and her fellow survivors become the unwelcome guests of the island's solitary owner, Robinson.

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