A Scot and the New Yorker

December 4, 2014

A bad cold, and the last week of class — so this is how I’d be remembered by everyone: hoarse, stuffed up, inarticulate, incapable of complex thought.

On a whim, I decided to see if there’s a poem on that bad cold.   Well it turns out there is, in the New Yorker, no less.

By someone known more as a novelist than a poet.   And someone who was born in Edinburgh and died in Florence, and died as Muriel Spark, DBE.

So there’s probably no good way to get her into this blog.   But Spark had also spent time in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (she had followed her husband there), and of course had spent time in New York, put up at the Algonquin Hotel by the New Yorker, after that magazine devoted an entire issue, October 1961, to The Prime of Miss Jane Brodie.   The book then became a play and an Oscar-winning movie.   Apparently the New Yorker had rejected some of her best stories before then.   On the other hand, it would also go on to publish oddball poems such as “The Bad Cold.”   Without question it was this magazine that made her the international star that she was, pushing her to embark on books such as The Mandelbaum Gate, a thriller about a Catholic convert’s pilgrimage to Jordan during the Eichmann’s trial.

None of this made her fully American, of course, but who cares?

About wcd2

Professor of English and American Studies
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