Fear and Pity, Pity and Fear: Rereading Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat in the Age of #MeToo

Timothy C. Baker* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat (1970) is a staple of the Scottish literary curriculum. I have taught it virtually every year of my career, in courses on both ethics and space, and as an example of both Scottish and postmodern fiction. The novel, which seems to tell the story of a woman seeking her own murder, has frequently been approached as a literary puzzle and an opportunity to reflect on questions of fate and free will. Readers have long been divided about the novel’s merits, either approaching the novel in terms of its events, in which case it is “a book of singular cruelty and shocking misanthropy” (Jordison), or treating it as a philosophical exercise, where it can be seen, in the words of one recent critic, as an account of the “relationship of the self to the Other and to death within the universe as defined by existentialism” (Craig 118).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalFRAME, Journal of Literary Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

I am indebted to my students for their seminar contributions, and particularly Caitlin Beveridge, Anita Markoff, and Darryl Peers for subsequent reflections and comments. I am also grateful to Katherine Furman for first introducing me to Manne’s work.


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