Intimate Critical Spaces in
In previous chapters we have considered Scottish literature through an historical continuum. Implicitly, one of our questions has been how important, and how much, continuity is necessary to define ‘Scottish literature’. A sensible response might be that continuities exist and are important to observe through Scottish (or any other national or international) literary history, but that none of these is essential or nationally inevitable. As well as placing texts in literary history, we need to pay attention to texts in themselves, or to practise upon them more particular literary criticism, as we have been doing to some extent already. It might be fair to argue that sometimes in the criticism of Scottish literature there has been too much emphasis upon nationalism as an historical context at the expense of detailed analysis of other important contexts within these texts. For instance, the insistence upon national narrative has led to little work being done on the very interesting analysis of gender that might be carried out on John Home’s Douglas, or of the treatment of women in Burns’s work, or in any extended way, in Scotland at least, of Muriel Spark’s Jewish or Catholic identities. Not only do texts and writers run the risk of being de-canonised in versions of literary history that are too narrow in their ‘national’ focus, but so too do different areas of critical interest.
A number of critical and theoretical areas in Scottish literature have arguably been examined rather more slowly and sporadically than in ‘English Literature’. For example, it is only really since