Issue 9:2 of Scottish Literary Review is a part-special Antipodean issue (see introduction below by Professor Liam McIlvanney, Guest-Editor). It also carries Richard Hillman's essay on the strange sixteenth-century concatenation between Robert Greene's play, James the Fourth, and David Lyndsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis. Included too are three other areas that seem currently to proliferate, alongside the sixteenth century, as submission-areas to SLR. A shorter piece by Craig Lamont and David Weir sheds light on an obscure Robert Burns manuscript. Elizabeth Weston on the 'comic uncanny' in Muriel Spark's Memento Mori is a timely opportunity to advertise the twoday 'Muriel Spark Centenary Symposium' at the University of Glasgow in association with the National Library of Scotland, on 1 and 2 February 2018. András Beck on three 'devolutionary plays' of the 1990s attests to the trend of increased critical interest in contemporary Scottish theatre. Bernard Sellin on Eric Linklater reminds us of Scottish literature of the first half of the twentieth century, for so long so trend-setting, but at the moment – seemingly – declining in critical attention. Bernard's essay began life as an Association for Scottish Literary Studies annual 'International Lecture'. The next issue of Scottish Literary Review (spring/summer 2018) will be a special Allan Ramsay publication. [End Page v]
Special Antipodean Part Issue
The 'seas between us' that separate Ayrshire from the South Island of New Zealand could hardly be broader, but the legacy of Robert Burns is not hard to find in the city of Dunedin. The Sir John Steell statue of the Bard takes pride of place in the Octagon, Dunedin's central plaza. A couple of miles to the north, past the Robbie Burns pub on George Street, stands the Burns Building, housing the University of Otago's Humanities Division. The Robert Burns Fellowship (NZ's 'premier literary residency') is awarded annually by the University, whose inaugural Chancellor was the poet's nephew, the Rev. Thomas Burns. The city's Burns Club was founded in 1861 by John Barr, the 'Burns of Otago' (who features, fleetingly, in Tom Leonard's Radical Renfrew). These days, the Dunedin City Council runs a Robert Burns Poetry Competition, while local rock bands perform their own interpretations of classic Burns songs in the annual 'Robbie Rocks' music competition. Small wonder that Dunedin-born James K. Baxter, arguably New Zealand's pre-eminent twentieth-century poet, should have regarded Burns as effectively a local poet, recommending that New Zealand poets borrow 'the forms and something of the language of Burns' when finding their own poetic voice.
However, while certain aspects of the antipodean Burns Cult have begun to be studied by scholars of Scottish associational culture, notably Tanja Bueltmann, little attention has been paid to the specific texts that engaged the Bard's Australasian admirers. Two articles in the present issue address this lacuna. As Nikki Hessell and Stephen Clothier contend, it was, perhaps surprisingly, 'To Mary in Heaven' – universally disparaged by modern Burns critics – that seemed to speak most feelingly to diaspora Scots, forming 'part of the foundation upon which a new transcultural identity could be established'. Both as poem and song, 'To Mary in Heaven' featured heavily in popular lectures, recitals and musical performances in areas of high Scottish settlement throughout the colonial period, and was invoked at times of high national sentiment, as in the wake of the Anzacs' disastrous Gallipoli campaign. It was, suggest Hessell and Clothier, the 'flexibility' of the work – unimpeachably Scottish in subject and authorship, but couched in an elegant and accessible English idiom – that made 'To Mary in Heaven' a touchstone text for Scottish settlers as they negotiated their place in the 'Better Britain' of colonial New Zealand.
Perhaps the only Burns poem whose popularity rivalled 'To Mary in Heaven' in colonial New Zealand was 'The Cotter's Saturday Night'. This, too, was a poem that mattered less as a mnemonic of 'Auld Scotia' than as a means of forging a new, transcultural identity. Just as the Ulster-Scots 'weaver [End Page vi] poet' James Orr wrote 'The...