Scottish Literature and Expressions of Freedom
Publication Year: 2016
Published by: Association for Scottish Literary Studies
Series: Occasional Papers series
Title Page, Copyright
One of the overarching themes evident in Scottish literary genres since the 1707 Union has been expression of conceptions of liberty or freedom or lack of liberty or freedom, variously defined. This volume explores understandings of the ways in which Scottish writers have sought to...
Part 1. Concepts and Themes
1. Liberty and Scottish Literature
The word ‘liberty’ refers to a matter of value, a quality that people might wish to sustain to have greater control over their own lives, to be free from the impositions of others. This desire is entwined among the deepest roots of Scottish history, and rarely does it blossom into fruit that can be seen...
2. Allan Ramsay’s A Dialogue on Taste: a painter’s call to break free from English artistic conventions
In the second half of the eighteenth century, a distinctive Scottish style of portrait painting began to emerge. Although its development coincided with that of English portraiture, the Scottish school of portrait painting has always been markedly different from its English counterpart. Both schools...
3. ‘A Common Right of Mankind’ or ‘A Necessary Evil’? Hume’s contextualist conception of political liberty
This chapter will focus on one specific form of political liberty examined in one of Hume’s essays, ‘Of the Liberty of the Press’ (1741), but its contention is that this essay opens a window into the main features and complexities of Hume’s conception of political liberty. ‘Of the Liberty of the Press’ is...
4. Versions of freedom and the theatre in Scotland since the Union
In his twelfth essay on Civil Liberty, David Hume wrote: ‘It has been observed by the ancients, that all the arts and sciences arose among free nations’.1 Whether the Scots felt free or not in the Athens of the North within the union with England is an issue open for debate. Nevertheless, the object of...
5. Freeing the tongue: Scots language on stage in the twentieth century
This chapter considers a range of attitudes to the use of Scots language on stage throughout the twentieth century. It draws attention to early attempts to use Scots for significant topics before the First World War, before addressing the experiments of the Scottish National Players and Joe Corrie...
6. The nature of aesthetics in the works of Mary Brunton, Hugh MacDiarmid and Alasdair Gray
In the introduction to Hugh MacDiarmid’s Aesthetics in Scotland (1984), Alan Bold comments that it is, for its author, ‘an unusually contemplative piece’.1 Contemplative it might be, but it is openly polemical in nature and extensive in scope, prone to sweeping generalisations about Scotland...
Part 2. Individual Writers and Freedom
7. Scotland and the literary call to freedom in Mary Brunton’s fiction
María Jesús Lorenzo Modia
Mary Brunton (1778–1818) was born in the Orkneys, spent most of her life in Scotland, died in the city of Edinburgh, and published novels in which her country was a key issue. She has perhaps not been as overlooked as Mary McKerrow, her most recent biographer, suggests:2 all her works...
8. Rivers, freedom and constraint in some of Stevenson’s autobiographical writing
This chapter examines the various ways in which Robert Louis Stevenson, in a selection of essays from the 1880s, expresses the idea of freedom and its contrary through the image of rivers and their flow. The freedoms in question are multiple – the freedom to move forward professionally, to...
9. Freedom and subservience in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song
Sunset Song, the first novel of the trilogy A Scots Quair, has enjoyed a wide readership and general esteem in Scotland and throughout the world, in spite of its linguistic difficulties and its abrasive social and political standpoints. Voted ‘the best Scottish book of all time’ in 2005 in a survey backed...
10. Women and freedom in Muriel Spark’s fiction
Dame Muriel Spark’s oeuvre is, together with that of Doris Lessing and A. S. Byatt, among the greatest representations of women’s salient contribution to literature in English in the twentieth century. Furthermore, her wide and prolific literary legacy can and should be considered as a privileged...
11. Looking at America from Edinburgh Castle: postcolonial dislocations in Alice Munro’s and Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Scottish fictions
The vista referred to in the title of Alice Munro’s short story collection The View from Castle Rock is not, as expected, that of the county of Fife, but that of America. This geographical incongruity which, according to Scott Hames, could be considered a drunken prank or a transatlantic fantasy...
12. Scottish and Galician background in Pearse Hutchinson’s poetry: freedom, identity and literary landscapes
This chapter pays tribute to the memory of the outstanding poet Pearse Hutchinson, born in Glasgow in 1927, who died in Dublin on 14 January 2012, aged eighty-four. A Scottish writer, though deeply linked to Irish culture, Hutchinson is a key figure in twentieth-century European literature...
13. ‘Shall Gaelic Die?’: Iain Crichton Smith’s bilingualism – entrapment or poetic freedom?
Does choosing a language impinge on your writing? This is a question Iain Crichton Smith, as a bilingual poet, often had occasion to ponder. He was brought up in the Gaelic language until he went to school where he then had to speak English and was confronted solely by an Anglocentric culture...
14. Henry Adam’s Among Unbroken Hearts (2000): Mankind’s desperate quest for freedom
In Henry Adam’s Among Unbroken Hearts (2000)1 four characters, covering a wide age-range, meet in a village in a wild, deserted rural area of northern Scotland, represented as a dead-end open space which paradoxically offers little opportunity to free oneself from alienating factors. The place appears...