The formation and development of personal identity in the Scottish novel, 1920-1937
Eight novels of the Scottish literary renaissance are studied as novels of development. The novel of development, deriving from the Bildungsroman, is a sub-genre of the novel which focuses on the maturation process of a central protagonist. The eight Scottish novels and novelists studied are: Open the Door!, Catherine Carswell (1920); The Quarry Wood, Nan Shepherd (1928); Dark Star, Lorna Moon (1929); Imagined Corners, Willa Muir (1931); Shepherds' Calendar, Ian Macpherson (1931); Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1932); The Albannach, Fionn MacColla (1932); Highland River, Neil Gunn (1937). Certain themes are identified as being of special importance to the developing protagonist: Family, Community, the Natural World, Sexuality and Gender, and Education. Novel-by-novel chapters examine how each novelist depicts the relationship between the protagonist's development and some of these themes. Connections between aspects of Kailyard fiction and these novels of the 20's and 30's are explored, in particular the 'lad o' pairts' motif. The development process for female protagonists is given particular consideration, relating to restrictions in society which inhibit female identity development. However, male protagonists are also shown to experience restrictions, leading to the conclusion that gender issues are more complex than most feminist accounts will allow. It is asserted that these novels contribute to contemporary debates about the condition of Scotland, especially as it affects young Scotsmen and Scotswomen. Furthermore, they reflect profound changes in Scottish society which took place in the early decades of the twentieth century, in particular changes in attitudes to sexuality and gender, and changes in family structures. The thesis contributes to the study of the Scottish literary renaissance by taking a new approach to the Scottish novel, and by prioritising personal identity as opposed to national or cultural identity.