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182 7. Conclusion The Tartan controversy Voices from Scotland in a Post-devolution Age. Hopeful Stories for a northern nation. Modern Transformations: New Identities.1 All those titles point to the inextricable connection, arguably in any context, between the literary and the extra-literary, a connection which many commentators have described as problematic in a Scottish context. The spate of critical works or histories of literature which have tried to establish the link between the literary output in Scotland after 1999 and the devolved parliament bears witness to that fact. Nevertheless, literary criticism as a whole has, in recent years, been very concerned with the pitfalls of putting a tartan badge on the literary production emanating from Scotland. The literary editor Stuart Kelly is the most openly critical of this tendency, as is shown by the title of his occasional paper for the International Journal of Scottish Literature, ‘How Tartan is Your Text?’. In this paper he argues that what he sees as the ‘deluge’ of critical books on Scottish literature corresponds to a desperate need to justify its existence. For him, the how-tartan-is-your-text question has shifted in recent years to reflect a new concern, as ‘[a]cross all these histories [of Scottish literature], a common foundation myth appears, wrapped in the deconstruction of foundation myths: that of a polyglot diverse Scotland, a Scotland of shifting territorial or linguistic boundaries. In effect, a protopost -colonial Scotland’.2 For Brown, Clancy, Manning and Pittock, the four editors of the Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature (Vol. 1, 2007: 10), the terms ‘“literature ” and “Scottish” […] need to be open to question’, while for Aaron Kelly, who accuses literary critics of complacency, the recent focus on the interaction between literary production and devolution was at the expense of class antagonism. He identifies post-devolution literature, when advocated and described by such commentators as Catherine Lockerbie, as implementing ‘a bourgeois narrative’, a ‘return to the grand narrative of yore, which postmodernism sought to undermine in the 1970s and 1980s’, and comments on the generating of ‘codes of historical normality’ to produce 183 that teleological narrative.3 Kelly also sees post-nationalism as the final repression of class in its discourse of cultural difference, an issue on which the editors of the Edinburgh History have a different opinion: Scotland is often and rightly described, not only in modern times, but throughout its history, as multicultural. Given the rich ways in which such multiculturalism is at the centre of Scottish cultures and experience and the ways in which these cultures work on, with and in one another, the editors would go further and assert that Scotland is intercultural. (vol. 1, 2007: 11) This suggestion of interculturalism could profitably be used to discuss not only the works of Suhayl Saadi, but also for instance that of Egypt-born Leila Aboulela,4 who describes herself first as a Muslim, or of Chiew-Siah Tei, a writer of Malaysian origin who published several books in Chinese before her novel Little Hut of Leaping Fishes (2008), which she wrote in English. It also raises the question of delimiting the field of literary analysis, which carries with it the appended and hotly debated notion of the canon, and of the methodology adopted to define it. It certainly rests on the complex issue of the here and elsewhere, the insider/outsider debate that has long agitated the circles of literary criticism, especially in Scotland. Brown, Clancy, Manning and Pittock insist on the dialectical issue of ‘understanding the importance of diaspora cultures as part of – and yet not part of – modern Scottish culture’ (Vol.1, 2007: 10), while Suhayl Saadi, not a diaspora writer but an author of ‘intercultural’ stock, comments, both in his essays and his fiction, on the long way ahead for such writers, claiming in The Burning Mirror that ‘[w]riting is the act of being outside. It is the scream of the excluded’ (2001: 99). The demarcating lines are not that clear-cut however, and one can vindicate Kelly’s argument about the sidelining of class issues by quoting Kelman: The crucial factor is the ability to earn a living, this is what is taken from writers who work on/from the margins. […] One side has power and authority and the other doesn’t. One has the power to stop the other from earning a living. It is better to be acknowledged as a writer than have to continue proving it all the time.5 conclusion...


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