The Arts of Alasdair Gray

By Thomas Nairn; Robert Crawford | Go to book overview

advances and performances at readings (together with his work in visual arts). This initiated the 'third period' which was announced in Lean Tales as resulting from him having run out of ideas for fiction -- a period of adapting and publishing previous work ( McGrotty and Ludmilla, Lean Tales, The Story of a Recluse [ BBC 2], Old Negatives, Tickly Mince) and compiling the forthcoming anthology of prefaces. The fiction of the third period is essentially work from Gray's first period which has, for one reason or another, not previously seen the light of publication. It is obvious that in Gray's œuvre, the order of publication is not a guide to the order of composition.

1986 also brought Gray's major endeavour to make his mark as a visual artist -- the 5 Scottish Artists Show -- a big retrospective exhibition collaboratively organised by Gray and fellow artists which included work by Gray, Alasdair Taylor, Carole Gibbons, John Connolly and Gray's deceased friend Alan Fletcher. This was shown in the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow and the Talbot Rice and 369 Galleries in Edinburgh, but it was not well publicised and resulted in a substantial financial loss.

There are signs of an impending fourth period beginning in 1987, and marked by the publication in 1990 of Something Leather. This developed from an idea which emerged during an interview with Kathy Acker, that Gray should write something from a woman's point of view. 12 Another impulse was financial -- the advance was needed to cover the expenses of the 5 Scottish Artists exhibition. What emerged was a series of linked short narratives, seven newly composed and six adapted from one-act plays written between 1968 and 1974.

Alasdair Gray is now an established figure in the Scottish literary scene, has a high profile within the wider world of Britain, and has been translated into Swedish, Dutch, German, Polish and Russian. He has at last achieved a satisfactory degree of financial security (given his extremely modest needs) and remains active in both writing and painting. At present it seems probable that his reputation will flourish in the long term.


NOTES
1.
This account of the life and works of Alasdair Gray was derived primarily from material in the archive at the National Library of Scotland. Subsequently, Alasdair Gray gave freely of his time and energy to check the information, and to expand it in crucial places. Wherever possible, his recollections were checked against contemporary documentation -- but this was not always possible. Any remaining mistakes or discrepancies are my own responsibility. I am

-17-

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The Arts of Alasdair Gray
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 8
  • One The Story So Far 10
  • Notes 17
  • Two Alasdair Gray, Visual Artist 22
  • Notes 35
  • Three The Process of Jock McLeish and the Fiction of Alasdair Gray 37
  • Notes 47
  • Four Alasdair Gray and the Postmodern 48
  • Notes 62
  • Five Gray and Glasgow 64
  • Notes 75
  • Six Alasdair Gray and the Condition of Scotland Question 76
  • Notes 88
  • Seven Going Down to Hell is Easy: Lanark, Realism and The Limits of the Imagination 90
  • Notes 107
  • Eight Black Arts: 1982 Janine and Something Leather 108
  • Notes 122
  • Nine How the Laws of Fiction Lie: A Reading of Gray's Shorter Stories 124
  • Notes 135
  • Ten The Necessity of Dragons: Alasdair Gray's Poetry1 136
  • Notes 145
  • Eleven Gray the Dramatist 146
  • Notes 155
  • Twelve Checklists and Unpublished Materials by Alasdair Gray 156
  • About the Contributors 209
  • Index 211
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