Back to the Fifties
A Far Cry from Kensington (1988) is Muriel Spark’s eighteenth novel and, at the time of writing, her most recent. It appeared in the year in which its author was seventy: the biblical three score years and ten, and a time of life at which many people, if they have survived so far, may want to take stock of the past. Many writers in their old age show an anxiety to put their literary affairs in order as well as coming to terms with their personal lives: they write autobiographies, produce collected editions of their works, sort (and perhaps burn) papers. A few extend this process into works of art: Hardy in The Well-Beloved constructs an allegory of the artist’s life, Graham Greene in Travels with my Aunt writes a picaresque comedy filled with motifs from his own earlier books, William Golding in The Paper Men shows an elderly writer grappling with the intrusions of a would-be biographer.
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