Accents of tradition and the language of romance : a study in the relationship of popular oral tradition and literary culture in Scotland, 1700-1825
As this study is concerned with the noetic process of a pre-literate, oral tradition in eighteenth century Scotland, we are obliged to address that mental economy through residual artifacts which survive in translation as products of a print driven, literary culture. As such, those artifacts have already been engaged to a literary process and, if they are to be subjected here to a further breach of cultural integrity, it is a minimum requirement that we attempt to respect the intellectual and psychological priorities which energise the traditional word. The central aims of the study are: to establish useful parameters of literary understanding for these residues, to assess the manner of translation through which the original materials were subjected to a literary process and to elucidate the nature of the literary product that they became, as well as that of the literary creativity which they inspired. With this in mind, our attention is directed initially toward the way in which a traditional text generates meaning for a contemporary, literary audience. The application of oral theory to Scottish traditional poetry and song, in chapter one, aims to propose a literary model of a particular tradition at a critical stage in its development. This model seeks to recognise both the conceptual underpinning of that process and the accumulative feedback that occurs when literary styles and politics infuse and regenerate within the process of transmission and translation to become embedded in the 'oral' artifacts of a culture in transition. In chapter two we look, in the editorial conflict between creative and conservative mediators, to identify the aesthetic circumstances of that tradition in a transitional culture so as to elucidate the nature of those artifacts as literary products. As a measure of how these competing forces pressurise traditional sources, we engage with the dynamic of cultural negotiation surrounding the authentication of traditional 'texts'. This focuses our attention on the status of the traditional aesthetic within the existing literary critique and the implications that aesthetic conflict held for original, imaginative writing.