NATIONAL IDENTITY IN SCOTTISH LITERATURE By Roseanne Osuji
History of Scottish Literature • Scotland has a long history of battling for it’s national identity. • Landmarks throughout this history led to the emergence of Scottish Literature as we know it. • Battle of independence left behind many emotions within the Scottish people.
The Fifteenth Century – The Flowering • Scotland’s national and cultural presence began to emerge. • Each King had to fight for their power. • Scottish connection with France was fruitful. • Scot’s learned French language and Paris had influence in major Scottish universities.
The Fifteenth Century: The Flowering (cont) • James IV set up the first chair of medicine. • Passed law that all sons of barons and land owners would attend school aged 8. • Bishop Elphinstone wanted to preserve Scottish form of worship – National identity.
The Fifteenth Century: The Flowering (Cont) • 2nd half of century Scotland reached greater level of peace with England. • Trading with other countries enhanced global stance. • Scotland on a new path/brighter future. • Flowering represents attractive growth of Scotland throughout this time.
Emergence and Development of Scottish Literature • 2 poets stood out in late 15th century paving the way for Scottish literature. • Robert Henryson and William Dunbar. • “THE SURFACE GORGEOUSNESS OF DUNBARS POEMS CONTRASTS WITH THE WILDER AND MORE BRUTAL EXTRAVGANCE OF HIS IMAGINATION, AND THESE, IN TURN, PLAY AGAINST A DARKER AND MORE SINGULAR SPIRIT OF PESSIMISM. DUNBAR SPEAKS OF THE PRODIGALITY OF THE COURT LIFE AND HE ALWAYS SPEAKS OF HIMSELF. HENRYSON, ON THE OTHER HAND HAS A BROADER AND LESS SELFISH NATURE, A MATURE COMPASSION FOR THE SPIRITUAL PLIGHT OF MAN AND A PRACTICAL SYMPATHY FOR THE COMMON FOLK”
Use of language in Scottish Literature • Scot’s use language as a weapon (Bold) • Authors can choose to hold on to a language associated with the past that can exclude others. • Scottish Gaelic becoming less attractive. • Allowed Scots to keep a sense of national identity within literature.
The Union in 1707 • Acts of union passed on 1st May 1707. • For many put an end to the strong and independent Scotland. • Now run by England and in threat of losing national identity. • Scottish authors tried to maintain identity within their novels.
Scotland increasingly industrialised. Collapse of clan structure led to emigration. Intelligent scholars moved to England. Sir Walter Scott penned Rob Roy. Selective view of Scotland to that of Tartanry and Kailyard. Key 19th century Scottish novelists: Sir Walter Scott
Well known for writing Peter Pan. Scottish novelist penned Auld Licht Idylls. Language and terminology of book immersed in ideas of Kailyard. Key 19th century Scottish novelists:JM Barrie
The evolution of Scottish Literature • Both novelists paved the way for people to follow suit. • Too focused on how Scotland used to be, no literature on Scotland in the present. • Many elements of truth in these novels still elements of myth also. • Modern reality was very different.
Clydesideism in Modern Scottish Literature • People losing sense of national identity. • Caught up in the past did not leave room for the future. • Industrialism slowed, job losses, Scotland in depression. • Clydesideism challenged ideas of Tartanry and Kailyard.
Trainspotting published in 1993 by Author Irvine Welsh. Book about drugs, theft, sex and violence. Run down image of Edinburgh. Refer to Scotland as the scum of the earth. Modern Literature: Irvine Welsh
Well known Scottish crime writer. Inspector Rebus series. Gritty and graphic crimes based in Edinburgh. Idea that character hates home town of Fife. Modern Scottish Literature: Ian Rankin
How late was it How late Character goes on drinking binge and get beat up by police. Working class man from a broken family. Modern Scottish Literature: James Kellman
Modern Scottish Literature as a whole • May have addressed myths in Scottish literature. • But portrays country as a dangerous and violent place to live. • Focuses on negative aspects of living in Scotland – lost our sense of national pride.
Conclusion • Scottish literature has gone through changes in last years. • Myth to danger. • Modern literature may not offer better alternative for national identity. • Past ideas offered better feeling for Scots. • Few Scottish literatures are allowing Scotland to move forward.
Class Question • What do you think is a better portrayal of our National Identity within Scottish Literature – Past or Present?