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.
The Fiction of Communion
Reflections on Culture & Literature
Scotland in Theory offers new ways of reading Scottish texts and culture within the context of an altered political framework and a changing sense of national identity. With the re-establishment of a Parliament in Edinburgh, issues of nationality and nationalism can be looked at afresh. It is timely now to revisit representations of Scottish culture in cinematography and literature, and also to examine aspects of gender, sexuality and ideology that have shaped how Scots have come to understand themselves. Established and younger critics use a variety of theoretical approaches here to catch an authentic sense of a post-modern Scotland in the process of change. Literature and the arts provide radical ways of knowing what Scotland, in theory, could become. The collection will be of interest to teachers and students of Scottish and English literature, literary theory, cultural and media analysis, and the history of ideas. Contributors include Eleanor Bell, Kasia Boddy, Cairns Craig, Thomas Docherty, Christopher Harvie, Ellen Raïssa-Jackson, Willy Maley, Gavin Miller, Tom Nairn, Sarah Neely, Laurence Nicoll, Berthold Schoene, Anne McManus Scriven, A.J.P. Thomson, Ronald Turnbull, Christopher Whyte.