AW Beveridge
Journal Issue: 
Volume 45: Issue 4: 2015


Edinburgh-born Muriel Spark is one of modern Scotland’s greatest writers. Examination of her work reveals that the subjects of madness and psychiatry are recurrent themes in her writing. She herself had a mental breakdown when she was a young woman and she took an interest in the world of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. In her short stories, Spark approaches the subject of madness in a variety of ways: she relates it to the supernatural; to writing fiction; and to religion. She frequently juxtaposes secular and supernatural explanations of mental disturbance. Spark adopts a sceptical and, at times, mocking view of psychiatrists and psychiatric treatment. Both psychoanalysis and pills are seen as problematic.