The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh

The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh

The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh

The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh

Synopsis

Enfant terrible of Scottish letters and subcultural scion of devolutionary protest and rebellion, Irvine Welsh has become known as the founding father of a groundbreaking tradition in post-devolution Scottish writing. The unprecedented worldwide success of Trainspotting, magnified by Danny Boyle's iconic film, revolutionized Scottish culture and radically remade the country's image from dreamy romantic hinterland to agitated metropolitan hotbed. Although Welsh's career is still taking shape, his influence on contemporary Scottish literary history is indisputable. This volume covers all of Welsh's fiction, as well as his dramatic work for the stage and for television, and features a detailed analysis of Danny Boyle's film. It tracks the author's critical and popular reception at home, abroad, and overseas, and questions the popular cult and mainstream hype surrounding his work. Issues of class, subculture, nationhood, gender, and narrative experimentation are tied to broader developments, such as devolution and globalization, within contemporary Scottish, British, and world culture. The book also examines Welsh's relationships to other writers, both Scottish and non-Scottish, and his contentious position within the Scottish literary canon. All in all, this guide merges a critical assessment of Walsh's work with an analysis of the writer and his phenomenon.

Excerpt

The preface to this series’ initial tranche of volumes recognised that some literary canons can conceive of a single ‘Great Tradition’. the series editors consider that there is no such simple way of conceiving of Scottish literature’s variousness. This arises from a multilingual and multivalent culture. It also arises from a culture that includes authors who move for many different reasons beyond Scotland’s physical boundaries, sometimes to return, sometimes not. the late Iain Wright in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature talked of the Scots as a ‘semi-nomadic people’. Robert Louis Stevenson travelled in stages across the world; Muriel Spark settled in Southern Africa, England and then Italy; James Kelman, while remaining close to his roots in Glasgow, has spent important periods in the United States; Irvine Welsh has moved from Leith, in Edinburgh, to a series of domestic bases on both sides of the Atlantic.

All four writers at one time and in one way or another have been underappreciated. Stevenson – most notoriously perhaps – for a time was seen as simply an adventure writer for the young. Yet Stevenson is now recognised not for simplicity, but his wonderful complexity, an international writer whose admirers included Borges and Nabokov. Similarly, the other three have firm international reputations based on innovation, literary experiment and pushing formal boundaries. All have grown out of the rich interrelationship of English and Scots in the literature to which they contribute; they embody its intercultural richness, hybridity and cosmopolitan potential. Some of their subject matter is far-flung: often they are situated not only physically but also in literary terms well beyond Scotland. Yet they are all important contributors to Scottish literature, a fact which problematises in the most positive and creative way any easy notion of what Scottish literature is.

Ian Brown Thomas Owen Clancy . . .

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