The Driver's Seat
A Belated 100th Anniversary Special
Mohammed bin Salman, the 'father' of moderate IslamWhile researching the novel that deservedly became her masterpiece, Muriel Spark was holed up in a Catholic hospital in Rome, not far from the Travaterre, famed for its lack of fountains. Lise, the anti-heroine of the novel, also spoke about her preoccupation with violence, a problem she summarised as "a lack of an absence." Her main concern in this novel is with terrorism. Or more specifically, with 'kamikaze' terrorists intent on taking others down with them in their bid to hijack the vague and over-generalised machinations of global politics. (More on that much later)
Islam plays a central part here, with Spark concerned with Lise and her impassioned search for absolute truth; the ineffable nature of desire, belief and last but not least, repulsion have their part here, too. The purity of the latter is what keeps emotions at bay. In fact, the only two emotions of the entire novel appear when Lisa vacillates between "fear and pity, pity and fear" in the final moments. More on those, later ..