Alasdair Gray

The Fiction of Communion


Alasdair Gray’s writing, and in particular his great novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981), is often read as a paradigm of postmodern practice. This study challenges that view by presenting an analysis that is at once more conventional and more strongly radical. By reading Gray in his cultural and intellectual context, and by placing him within the tradition of a Scottish history of ideas that has been largely neglected in contemporary critical writing, Gavin Miller re-opens contact between this highly individualistic artist and those Scottish and European philosophers and psychologists who helped shape his literary vision of personal and national identity. Scottish social anthropology and psychiatry (including the work of W. Robertson Smith, J.G. Frazer and R.D. Laing) can be seen as formative influences on Gray’s anti-essentialist vision of Scotland as a mosaic of communities, and of our social need for recognition, acknowledgement and the common life.


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Review Quotes

”extremely interesting […] Reading Gray through Robert Graves’s White goddess theories is especially revealing, as is Miller’s keenness to view Gray through the prism of existentialism.” The Scottish Review of Books, Vol. 2, No. 1

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Introduction Chapter One: Lanark, The White Goddess, and “spiritual communion” Chapter Two: The divided self – Alasdair Gray and R.D. Laing Chapter Three: Reading and time Conclusion: How “post-” is Gray? Bibliography, Index