The Scots Literary Tradition: An Essay in Criticism

The Scots Literary Tradition: An Essay in Criticism

The Scots Literary Tradition: An Essay in Criticism

The Scots Literary Tradition: An Essay in Criticism

Excerpt

The Scots Literary Tradition, as first published in 1940, consisted of Parts One and Two of the present volume. It was written by a young man, and it has seemed unwise for me to attempt to rewrite it now. I have, therefore, allowed Parts One and Two to stand in this new edition much as they were, except for some corrections and interpolations. But there are a few larger additions--including a new essay on Gavin Douglas ' Aeneid--and I have thought it best to keep these separate from the original book by putting them into an additional section at the end of the present volume.

In its original form, The Scots Literary Tradition was written --as articles and reviews--for Scrutiny in the thirties, and it belonged in that context. It had its small place in the whole effort at disengagement from what had come to seem limiting nineteenth-century conceptions of poetry (though these were still academic orthodoxy). It began from the recognition that the poetry in Scots, the poetry of Dunbar, Henryson, and Burns, was not congruous with nineteenth-century conceptions of poetry. The re-reading of the Scots poetry could, therefore, assist the whole movement towards a less limited contemporary taste in literature. It may be that, because of this corrective intention, the book emphasized the characteristics of the Scots poetry that were different from those of Romantic or late nineteenth-century poetry. If I were writing the book now I might be less concerned to help to define the limitations of nineteenth-century poetry and rather more concerned to define the limitations of the Scots poetry. But the . . .

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