Spark

Spark

[spahrk]
Spark, Dame Muriel, 1918-2006, Scottish novelist, b. Muriel Sarah Camberg. She lived in Edinburgh, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), London, New York, and Rome, and spent her last years in Tuscany. Spark's typically short, spare, and witty novels expose the pretensions, hypocrisies, and petty foibles of her characters with merciless satire and cool detachment. Her Roman Catholicism (she converted in 1954) informs her acute moral vision and underlies her interest in revealing the dark, terrifying, evil, and unexplainable side of banal human experience. Spark's more than 20 novels include The Comforters (1957), Memento Mori (1958), The Bachelors (1960), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), The Mandelbaum Gate (1965), The Abbess of Crewe (1974), The Takeover (1976), Loitering with Intent (1981), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), Reality and Dreams (1997), Aiding and Abetting (2001), and The Finishing School (2004). Her short novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) became an acclaimed stage, film, and television production. Her poems and short stories are compiled in Collected Poems I (1967), Collected Stories I (1968), and Open to the Public: New and Collected Stories (1997, rev. ed. 2001). She also wrote critical studies of Mary Shelley (1951) and John Masefield (1953) and a biography of Emily Brontë (1953). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.

See her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1993); critical biography by B. Cheyette (2001); studies by D. Stanford (1963), K. Malkoff (1968), P. Stubbs, ed. (1973), R. Whittaker (1982), A. Bold, ed. (1986), D. Walker (1988), R. S. Edgecombe (1990), N. Page (1990), J. L. Randisi (1991), J. Hynes, ed. (1992), J. Sproxton (1992), M. Pearlman (1996), F. E. Apostolou (2001), and M. McQuillan, ed. (2001).

spark, in electricity: see arc.

Device that fits into the cylinder head of an internal-combustion engine and carries two electrodes separated by an air gap, across which current from a high-tension ignition system discharges, creating a spark and igniting the fuel. The electrodes and the insulator separating them must withstand high temperatures, as well as an electric stress of up to several thousand volts. Spark-gap length affects the energy of the spark, and the shape of the insulator affects the temperature of operation.

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orig. Muriel Sarah Camberg

(born Feb. 1, 1918, Edinburgh, Scot.—died April 13, 2006, Florence, Italy) British writer. She spent several years in Central Africa, returning to Britain during World War II. Until 1957 she published only poetry and criticism, including studies of Mary Shelley and the Brontë sisters. Her fiction uses satire and wit to present serious themes, often questions about good and evil. Memento Mori (1959) is her most widely praised novel; the best-known is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961; film, 1969). Her later novels, often more sinister in tone, include The Abbess of Crewe (1974), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), and Reality and Dreams (1996).

Learn more about Spark, Dame Muriel with a free trial on Britannica.com.

orig. Muriel Sarah Camberg

(born Feb. 1, 1918, Edinburgh, Scot.—died April 13, 2006, Florence, Italy) British writer. She spent several years in Central Africa, returning to Britain during World War II. Until 1957 she published only poetry and criticism, including studies of Mary Shelley and the Brontë sisters. Her fiction uses satire and wit to present serious themes, often questions about good and evil. Memento Mori (1959) is her most widely praised novel; the best-known is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961; film, 1969). Her later novels, often more sinister in tone, include The Abbess of Crewe (1974), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), and Reality and Dreams (1996).

Learn more about Spark, Dame Muriel with a free trial on Britannica.com.

A Spark is a small airborne ember or particle of red-hot matter.

Spark may also refer to:

In science:

  • Spark (mathematics), the smallest number of linearly independent columns in a matrix
  • Sinthusa, a genus of butterfly
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    In computer games:

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    In corporate usage:

    • Spark Infrastructure, an investor in Australian infrastructure assets
    • Spark, an open source, cross-platform instant messaging client optimized for businesses and organizations

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