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Cultural Exchanges in Scottish Literature

27.53 Cultural Exchanges in Scottish Literature

Edited by: Martin Procházka and Petra Johana Poncarová

Volume: 27
Issue: 53
July 2017


Martin Procházka , Petra Johana Poncarová
Introduction: Cultural Exchanges In Scottish Literature: Towards "Critical Transculturalism"?
Emma Dymock
The Cuillin Rising Out of the Wasteland: The Tradition of Quotation in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot, Hugh MacDiarmid and Sorley MacLean
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While it is clear that other poets were greatly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922), poets on the 'literary periphery' exhibited a mixed response in relation to its reception and significance. The legacy of the modernist long poem and the weight of tradition is approached from a Scots perspective by Hugh MacDiarmid in A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926). Later, from a Gaelic perspective, Sorley MacLean 'answers' both Eliot and MacDiarmid in his long political poem "An Cuilithionn" (1939). Operating in Scots and Gaelic affects the literary processes and dynamics of the poets who composed these subsequent modernist poems. This article explores the relationship between Eliot, MacDiarmid and MacLean, as well as focussing on how MacDiarmid and, in particular, the less-researched MacLean, explore the use of quotation which was first laid out by Eliot. It shows that while all three poets had different motivations, the sense of being on the edge of a literary and political landscape and being in the position of operating within (and in some cases, transcending) a dual tradition, is an experience which they all shared, highlighting the importance of future research exploring the connections and intersections in modern English, Scots and Gaelic literature.
Anne Artymiuk
This Savage Wood: Dante, Eliot And George Campbell Hay
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The Scottish poet George Campbell Hay is known for his fascination with form, in particular for writing Gaelic poetry in a strictly traditional way. It is widely accepted that, while on war service during World War Two, Hay was heavily influenced by the people and Islamic culture of North Africa and that this influence was reflected in his work. Less commonly remarked is the similar influence of the language and literature of Italy, likewise encountered by Hay during the war, firstly in Algeria through his contact with Italian Prisoners of War and later when he was posted to Italy itself. This article briefly examines some of those Italian influences, before focusing on Hay's war poem "Esta Selva Selvaggia" seeking to show how this poem, unusual in the poet's work, benefits not only from the Italian connection but also displays a surprising debt to Modernism, and in particular to T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.
Petra Johana Poncarová
The Gael Cosmopolite: Tormod Caimbeul and Shrapnel (2006)
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This essay focuses on the issue of cultural exchanges in Shrapnel (2006), the second novel by Tormod Caimbeul (Norman Campbell). While acknowledged as one of the most accomplished Gaelic novelists, Caimbeul has received very little critical attention so far and his works remain untranslated into any language. After a brief introduction of the history of Gaelic fiction and Caimbeul's career, the essay attempts to introduce Shrapnel as one of the most cosmopolitan Gaelic novels so far, drawing assuredly on various sources of references, employing experimental formal features, and using the dynamics of a Gaelic text interspersed with English. The essay is accompanied by original translations of extracts from the novel into English.
Christopher Whyte
Talking Trees: Narratology of the Ariostan "Switch"
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The essay sets out from the episode from Canto IV of the Orlando Furioso, in which the tree to which Ruggiero has tied his hippogriff protests, then proceeds to explain that it has a human identity and to tell its sad tale, arguing that the narrative structure of the poem can as easily be described in terms of the junctures between episodes as of the episodes themselves. Referring to the antecedents in Virgil and Dante, and to theoretical discussions by Italo Calvino and Northrop Frye, the essay outlines parallels with contemporary "soap opera" and with cinematic "montage." To the complicated paths followed by different characters must be added the reader's own path through the poem, whose aleatory nature the narrator refers to, and ultimately the narrator's own path in the telling, with the final, triumphant steering Odysseus-like of his much travelled vessel safely into port. A focus on narrative technique serves to demonstrate the radically different nature of the abridgement in Scots published by John Stewart of Baldynneis in 1590 which, while drawing on elements of the same "diegesis," shows an end-directed tendency very foreign in intention and effect to its Italian original.
Margery Palmer McCulloch
Scottish and Czech Cultural Exchange: The Muirs, Karel Čapek and a Shared Story of Europe
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This essay brings together the Scottish writers Edwin and Willa Muir and the Czech playwright and essayist Karel Čapek. Čapek and his city of Prague provided a life-long inspiration for Edwin in particular who shared the Czech writer's social, political, and philosophical beliefs, including his "belief in people" and what Edwin described as the "mystery" of how we live together in our shared human world. Although both Muirs brought Scotland and Europe together also through their translations of European writers, including Prague's Kafka, the following discussion focuses primarily on their relationship with Čapek, bringing together his interwar writings and Edwin's post-war Prague-inspired poetry.
Monika Szuba
"The Terra Incognita of the Whole": John Burnside's Writing and the Entangled Bank of Culture
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John Burnside's highly diverse, plural and polysemic texts enhance a vision of Scottish culture as open and dialogic through the interconnected network of cultural and literary references that he incorporates into his work. Cross-cultural and cosmopolitan, the intricate tapestry of his writing involves the use of ekphrasis, musical allusions, foreign-language words and phrases, and a plethora of geographical names. He frequently refers to ancient, medieval as well as contemporary literary and philosophical sources. His concept of "poetry as ecology" underlines the necessity for the search of a proper dwelling on the earth. Employing Charles Darwin's idea of the "entangled bank," which foregrounds "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful," this article considers the weave of Burnside's texts which emphasises the underlying interdependence of things. It examines the influence of other authors and cultures on his rich writing, thus demonstrating that we are all beings entangled in a constant relation with the world in all its aspects. Finally, it argues that through a complex and ongoing process of exchange, Burnside's work proposes a move towards an open poetics.
Robert Wirth
Cultural and Textual Appropriation in Alan Bissett's Boyracers
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The article explores the cultural and textual appropriations and exchanges at play in Alan Bissett's debut novel, Boyracers (2001). Very much steeped in its time and place, the novel offers an insight into a particular 1990s Scottish Zeitgeist that is, nonetheless, suffused by the products of a principally American and English culture industry. Cultural exchange in Boyracers is decidedly one-directional, as references to Scottish creative output - throughout most of the narrative at least - are conspicuous by their absence. The first part of the article attempts to demarcate the space in which cultural appropriation mainly takes place in the novel, and seeks to discuss the juxtaposition of the globalised, hyperreal, world of make-believe - into which the four young protagonists so readily escape - with the harsh Scottish realities of growing up in small-town Scotland. By way of select examples, the second part of the article will ascertain exactly which hypotexts are appropriated and will then examine the specific ways in which Boyracers' transtextuality is instrumentalised - both reverently and critically - to create a composite picture of a confused, modern-day lad o' pairts who is torn between class affiliation, cultural predilection and local identity.
Review of Irena Grubica , Zdeněk Beran
The Fantastic of the Fin de Siècle
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. 289 pp.
→ Pavla Veselá: Fin-De-Siècle Diabolic Fifteen
Review of Mariana Machová
Elizabeth Bishop and Translation
Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017. 167 pp.
→ Stephan Delbos: Voices Carry: Translation As An Aesthetic Stance In The Poetry Of Elizabeth Bishop

Notes on Contributors
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Anne Artymiuk holds both a BA (Russian) and an MA (Victorian Studies) from the University of Leeds. After relocating to Orkney, she gained an MLitt in Highlands and Islands Literature at the University of the Highlands and Islands where she is now researching a PhD on the poet George Campbell Hay. Her other academic interests include the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell and the use of Gaelic tropes in fantasy literature for children.



Emma Dymock is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her main research interests centre on Scottish Gaelic poetry. She is the author of Sorley MacLean, an introduction to the poet's work as part of the Scotnote series (2011), and co-editor of Caoir Gheal Leumraich / White Leaping Flame: Sorley MacLean Collected Poems (2011), Scottish and International Modernism (2011) and Lainnir a' Bhùirn - The Gleaming Water: Essays on Modern Gaelic Literature (2011). Most recently she has published the first edition of the collected poetry of Douglas Young, Naething Dauntit (2016), with an introduction and extensive notes. She is currently working on her next book, which will gather together and explore the significance of the letters between Sorley MacLean and Douglas Young.



Margery Palmer McCulloch is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. Her books include Modernism and Nationalism (2004), Scottish Modernism and its Contexts (2009), and the co-edited Edinburgh Companion to Hugh MacDiarmid and Scottish and International Modernisms (both 2011). She was co-editor of Scottish Literary Review from 2005-2013. She is currently working on a joint biography of Edwin and Willa Muir and their Scottish and international contexts for which research was funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship.



Petra Johana Poncarová is a PhD candidate at Charles University, Prague, with a special interest in modern Gaelic literature (Derick Thomson, Sorley MacLean, Tormod Caimbeul). While her MA thesis discussed poetry of place in the works of MacLean and Thomson, her PhD dissertation focuses on Thomson's political poetry and journalism. She is a contributor to the all-Gaelic literary magazine STEALL, founder of the Derick Thomson website, and the first translator working directly from Gaelic into Czech.



Martin Procházka is Professor of English, American and Comparative Literature at Charles University, Prague. He is the author of Romanticism and Personality (1996, in Czech), Transversals (2007) and Ruins in the New World (2012) and a co-author of Romanticism and Romanticisms (2005, in Czech). He is a Trustee of the International Shakespeare Association (ISA), an Advisory Board member of the International Association of Byron Societies (IABS), the founding editor of the international academic journal Litteraria Pragensia and a visiting professor at the universities of Kent and Porto.



Monika Szuba is Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Gdańsk, Poland. Her research covers twentieth-century and twenty-first century Scottish and English poetry and prose, with a particular interest in ecocriticism informed by phenomenology. She is a founding member of the Scottish Studies Research Group at the University of Gdańsk, and was the Bednarowski Trust Fellow at the University of Aberdeen in 2015-2016. She has edited a volume of essays Boundless Scotland: Space in Scottish Fiction (University of Gdańsk Press, 2015). She is currently writing a book on the representations of the natural world in the work of contemporary Scottish authors.



Robert Wirth is a research assistant at the Department of English and American Studies of the University of Paderborn, Germany, lecturing lectures in English language and British cultural studies. He received his MA from the Julius Maximilians University Würzburg, Germany. He has published in journals including The Journal of Scottish Thought and the French Journal of Contemporary British Studies. His primary research interests lie in the field of Scottish literature, politics and culture, with a main focus on the utilisation of history and nostalgia in political campaigning.



Between 1977 and 2005 Christopher Whyte taught at the universities of Bari, Rome la Sapienza, and Edinburgh, finishing up as Reader in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, where he was on the staff for fifteen years. Since taking early retirement in 2005 he has been based in Budapest, Hungary, publishing three poetry collections and three volumes of translations from the Russian of Marina Tsvetaeva to add to the four novels, two poetry collections and a prize-winning edition of the Scottish Gaelic poet Somhairle MacGill-Eain (Sorley MacLean) already in print. Whyte's fiction is in English, while his verse output is exclusively in Scottish Gaelic. He has been described as the best poet writing in that language today. He is also well-known as a controversial and incisive critic of Scottish and other literatures, where his use of gender and queer theory has broken extensive new ground.



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