Rather than simply identifying what Scottish literature is, this book has raised problems with defining the ‘subject’ and also what constitutes Scottish literary texts. In so doing, however, the intention has been to open up Scottish literature to more possibilities than were sometimes allowed in the Scottish critical tradition which we surveyed in Chapter 1. Examining Scottish literatures rather than any singular tradition would seem to be the way forward in the twenty-first-century climate of multiculturalism and in an age when we are sceptical about claims to absolutely coherent national, or even personal, identity. As we have seen in our two chapters on Scottish literature in Scots and Scottish literature in English, these have been convenient but somewhat artificial ways of addressing the history of Scottish literature. Canonicity, or belonging to a tradition of literature defined by national or other cultural factors, is more a matter of humans (critics and commentators) choosing to find such coherence and overlook variegation. Scottish texts, whether in Scots or English (or Gaelic or any other language or that matter), are usually made up of both local and more international and cosmopolitan materials. For instance, can the sonnet, or the novel, or the short story be said to belong any more to one nation than others? These literary modes or forms are, of course, commonly shared across huge swathes of international human culture. Scotland, like many other places, has made significant contributions to the writing and development of all of these things. As a


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Scottish Literature


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