Dame Muriel Spark

Dame Muriel Spark

A weeklong electronic journal.
Dec. 14 1996 3:30 AM

Dame Muriel Spark

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       I am short of reading matter. I like to read. If a book is tedious, I give it another page or two, then perhaps I might look at the ending and finally decide to quit. Plough through a book I will not.
       My favorite book in unreliable times is the Bible. I read it as literature, as history, as a source of wisdom. I don't know if I read it specially from a religious point of view, because I tend to see everything more or less against a background of religion.
       I have been reading the Book of Ecclesiastes. It contains proverbs that speak right at the reader. (Chapter 9, verse ii):

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... the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, not yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.    

How well this applies to our everyday, unpredictable lives! Another of my favorite proverbs lists a number of human attributes detestable to God, with which I quite agree (Proverbs 6, 16):

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

       But some homely wise-sayings of our culture are not always foolproof. I have always thought "no smoke without fire" rather shaky. It is true there is no smoke without fire, but surely the point is usually: Who lit the fire? To say you can't have your cake and eat it is undoubtedly true, but if you don't want to eat your cake, after all, what would be the point of saving it up?

Dame Muriel Spark is the author of 19 novels, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Memento Mori. Her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae, was published in 1993. She lives in Italy.