Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature

By Ian Brown; Alan Riach | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER SEVEN
Literature and
World War Two

Douglas Gifford

There is an immense and continuing body of writing that records, laments and occasionally celebrates World War Two’s impact on individuals and communities. This chapter can consider only some of Scottish writers’ most vivid and poignant commentaries in poetry, fiction and drama, bearing witness to those effects. It explores major Scottish writers who foresaw, fought and remembered the war. Its texts express the damaged, disrespectful, myth-making, yet impressively enduring nature of Scottish writing within and about the 1939–45 British conflict. It also considers home responses for those bombed, evacuated, objecting conscientiously, or seeing their families permanently blighted. War literature arguably falls into two groupings: that directly affected, produced in the post-war quarter-century; and later secondary re-imagining. War’s long shadow lingers in contemporary works like Andrew Greig’s (1951–) That Summer (2000) and Alison Kennedy’s (1965–)Day(2007).


Fiction

War is never far from Eric Linklater’s (1899–1974) fiction, whether as background and reminiscence for the picaresque hero of Magnus Merriman (1934) or later centring on it. Private Angelo (1946), dedicated to the Eighth Army is surely, however, pre-eminent in Scotland’s war fiction, its savage satire on war and profound empathy with humble predicaments and suffering setting it alongside the great war novels of Hašek, Vonnegut and Heller. Americans and British are liberating Italy, although, as the peasant Angelo wryly comments, liberation by bombing villages is somewhat confusing. A cast of fanatics, collaborators, devious aristocrats, bullying Nazis and profiteers rampage through Italy. Like Voltaire’s Candide, the narrator’s voice is of a kindly simple storyteller, understating events’ actual horror. Angelo, like Schweik or Billy Pilgrim, archetypally symbolises enduring ordinariness; professing to lack the dono de corragio, he emerges, beaten, cuckolded, as ultimate hero of the ordinary, his fundamental decency carrying him, shivering

-88-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 264

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?