Division and wholeness : the Scottish novel 1896-1947
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Scottish literature seemed to be stagnating. In the 1920s and '30s, a loose grouping of writers hoped to achieve a 'Scottish Literary Renaissance' - the name by which the period is known. They were interested in Scottish speech, customs, myths and traditions. By using this raw material in their work, they sought to emphasise a Scottish identity which, they felt, had almost disappeared. Novels often centre on the experience of a young, imaginative character who tries to combine artistic sensitivity with life in the community. This character is related to a recurrent figure in the Scottish novel generally. Usually he is morbid and unreliable but it is a mark of the optism of the period that writers see in this figure not merely a potential artist but also a potential leader. The background is described through George Douglas Brown's The House with the Green Shutters (1901) and other works from the early years of the century. Thereafter the Scottish Literary Renaissance is charted through the work of four writers: Eric Linklater, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Naomi Mitchison and Neil M Gunn. The use to which they put the figure of the young dreamer is noted throughout.