The Scottish Novel since the Seventies: New Visions, Old Dreams

The Scottish Novel since the Seventies: New Visions, Old Dreams

The Scottish Novel since the Seventies: New Visions, Old Dreams

The Scottish Novel since the Seventies: New Visions, Old Dreams

Synopsis

The last two decades have seen a new renaissance in Scottish literary culture in which the Scottish novel has attained new heights of maturity, confidence and challenge. The Scottish Novel since the Seventies is the first major critical reassessment of the developments in this period. Ranging from the work of longer-established authors such as Robin Jenkins, Muriel Spark and William McIlvanney to the more recent experiments of Alasdair Gray James Kelman and Janice Galloway, it provides a new critical focus on the intriguing relationship between continuity and innovation which characterises the novel's response to the complex changes in Scottish culture and society during the past twenty years. The contributors assess the work of an extensive number of writers in thecontext of a correspondingly wide range of issues: gender, postmodernism, political identity, archaism and myth, and the theme of disintegration. There are also chapters on the continuing growth of the 'Glasgow novel' and film adaptations of Scottish fiction. A bibliography of Scottish fiction since 1970 completes this critical account.

Excerpt

Gavin Wallace

It has become commonplace to observe that the past two decades have proved the most productive and challenging period in Scottish literary culture since the Scottish Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. Indeed, the profusion and eclecticism of creative talent across all genres and all three of the nation's languages has led some to speak not simply of revival, but of a new -- perhaps even more 'real' -- Scottish Renaissance. Such declarations of confidence have also been made possible through equally major achievements in literary criticism, scholarship and Scottish cultural studies throughout the same period which have restored the long-eroded intellectual context in which past cultural achievements can be satisfactorily retrieved and appraised, present trends reflected, and future developments fostered and encouraged. To these concentric circles of creative and intellectual flowering can be added a third: the dynamic rejuvenation of the Scottish publishing industry which, a little over ten years ago, few would have dreamt was possible.

So thorough have these achievements proved that few, other than the most eccentric, would now gainsay the category of 'the Scottish novel' as a distinctive literary force or as a viable critical concept. The days when a Sunday Times reviewer could applaud George Mackay Brown Greenvoe as a novel in 'the great tradition of English social realism' seem long distant; echoes of the time when understandable extremes of apology and defence seemed prerequisite critical reflexes for protecting Scotland's claim to cultural autonomy against the forces of assimilation to an English or British continuum. Objective, confident debate, both critical and popular, about Scottish fiction has flourished as the laments which dominated the early 1980s for traditions immured in ignorance and neglect -- unpublished, unread, untaught -- have faded.

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