Writing the nation : four inter-war visions of Scotland
This thesis examines the visions of Scotland that come across in the inter-war writings of Hugh MacDiarmid, Neil Gunn, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Edwin Muir in relation to the ideas of the Scottish Literary Renaissance as a whole. The initial part, "Into the Renaissance", consists of a historical account of Scottish political and cultural nationalism in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by an examination of the ways in which the authors associated with the Scottish Renaissance participated in the construction of Scotland as an imagined community. Geography, history, religion, language and literature are identified as the five predominant themes in the inter-war tradition, on the basis of which the intellectuals created an image of the nation that could express their twin philosophies of nationalism and modernism. The second part, "Four visions of Scotland", is composed of close readings to the work of High MacDiarmid, Neil Gunn, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Edwin Muir in that order of appearance. The MacDiarmid chapter begins with a discussion of the poet's call for a Scottish Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. It is argued that MacDiarmid set out with a strong belief in his own ability to awaken the nation, but that he became increasingly disappointed with the Scot's lack of response to his programme towards the end of the 1920s. This disillusionment resulted in a change of strategy in the 1930s when, on the one hand, he exchanged the politics of the National Party for his personal ideology of Scottish Republicanism, while, on the other, he abandoned previous attempts to reform the Scottish nation favour of an idealised vision that was more compatible with his poetic aims.