12 March 2009

Forgotten Book: MOMENTO MORI, Muriel Spark

Another contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books

MOMENTO MORI was published by Muriel Spark (1918-2006) in 1959 (Macmillan). Don't you just love the original cover?
The title appears in my little green book towards the end of 1976.
It is Muriel Spark's second book.

Dame Lettie Colston, 79 and pioneer penal reformer, has much in common with the elderly residents of the Maud Long Medical Ward. All are united by scorn, resentment, boredom - and the humour that masks the awareness of impending death. Then the insidious telephone calls begin. The title translates to "Remember you must die" and is the message delivered by a series of insidious phone-calls made to Dame Lettie other residents. Who is making the calls and why? The recipients reflect on their past lives whilst trying to identify the culprit...

It was the beginning of a long and distinguished career for Muriel Spark, who continued to write until 2004. She is another of these cross genre authors, both literary and crime fiction.


She received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the US Ingersoll Foundation TS Eliot Award in 1992 and the British Literature Prize in 1997.
She became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993, in recognition of her services to literature. She has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, in 1969 for Loitering with Intent and in 1981 for The Public Image. She was the Bram Stoker winner (1987) : Mary Shelley.

In 2001 the Catholic Book Club presented the Campion Award to her for “bequeath[ing] to us a literary legacy of ‘prime’ quality”.

The Scottish Arts Council created the Muriel Spark International Fellowship in 2004, with Canadian Margaret Atwood winning the inaugural prize.

In 2004 DAME Muriel Spark became the first recipient of a new literary award in celebration of the 21st anniversary of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF). The EIBF Enlightenment Award will be given annually to a writer who has made a distinguished contribution to world literature and thought.

MOMENTO MORI was adapted for television in 1992 by the BBC starring Maggie Smith, Thora Hird, Michael Hordern and Zoe Wanamaker.

Check her novels and short stories at Fantastic Fiction


Brian Kavanagh said...

One of my favorite books and I have the video of the TV production. A little gem.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love to see the video. I'm going to hunt for it.

Todd Mason said...

Spark also a major writer of horror fiction, along with contemporary mimetic and crime fiction...see THE GO-AWAY BIRD collection (or her retrospectives), and shame on me for forgetting to mention her in this wise of late.

SteveHL said...

My favorite of Spark's books, and one of my favorite books in general.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin