Alasdair Gray

Alasdair Gray

Alasdair Gray

Alasdair Gray

Synopsis

"Since the publication of Lanark in 1981 Alasdair Gray has been a figure of importance in contemporary literature. Now, through attention to mixed genre, counter-historical narrative, and the thematics of memory, this first study of Alasdair Gray's novels shows the coherence of the Scottish writer's varied body of work. Stephen Bernstein refuses to view Gray's work through the vague lens of postmodernism, seeing Gray instead as a writer at home in a variety of literary traditions. Beginning by providing an American audience with backgrounds to Gray's work, this study recounts the chronology of his publications and their reception by an international audience, simultaneously placing his writing in the contexts of Scottish culture and literature." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Alasdair Gray is one of the most important living writers in English. His satirical blend of realism and fantasy and his compassionate use of humor and sorrow distinguish his novels, short stories, plays, and poems in the crowded field of contemporary literature. As Gray himself playfully documents on a book cover, his writing covers the range of “Social Realism, Sexual Comedy, Science Fiction, Satire.” Few writers compose their own book covers, but Gray is also a respected visual artist, his paintings and drawings at home in major collections. His illustrations and overall designs for his books make them total works of art; comparisons to the visionaries William Blake and William Morris have been frequent as a result. Gray is peerless in this and other ways, and since the publication of his first novel, Lanark, in 1981 his work has been admired, commended, and eagerly awaited by readers around the world.

Gray has simultaneously been an inspiration of central importance to fellow Scottish writers. The jacket of the 1995 reprint of Lean Tales, a volume of short stories by Gray and fellow Scots James Kelman and Agnes Owens originally published in 1985, boasts that the collection can now “be seen as a significant milestone in the progress of contemporary Scottish writing.” In the same year the text accompanying a New Yorker photo spread pronounced Gray “the grand old man of the Scottish renaissance,” while the photograph showed him seated in the center of ten other Scottish writers all to some degree indebted to his pathbreaking work. Indeed, the editor of the recent collection The Scottish Novel Since the Seventies speaks of the country's resurgence of novel writing as “symbolized by the publication in 1981 of … Lanark,” a novel that “detonated a cultural time-bomb which had been ticking away patiently for years.…”

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