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Title: 'Travelling hopefully' : postmodern thought and the fictional practice of Walter Scott, James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson
Author: Lumsden, Alison
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1991
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The postmodern context is one in which certain of the boundaries of the Scottish novel may be reassessed. Focusing upon reflexivity in language and the philosophical implications of it, postmodernism opens up a space wherein the 'grand narrative' of English criticism and the totalising aesthetics it has valorised may be deconstructed. In doing so, it provides an environment in which the literary products of marginalised cultures may be positively re-examined. Likewise, post-structuralism provides a vocabulary in which the characteristic features of those marginalised literatures - the radical and subversive strategies which have shaped their challenge to 'essence', 'presence', and so the 'centre' - may be redefined. This thesis offers a reading of selected nineteenth Scottish fictions in such a postmodern context. Looking at the work of Walter Scott, James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson, it explores how far their work may benefit from such a reading. Examining their own exploration of the boundaries of fixed ontological positions, it notes how the inadequacy of these systems effects both their thematic concerns and their fictional strategies. In Walter Scott's work, such exploration is found in his search for a model of Scottish identity, and a contingent deconstruction of fixed oppositional codes by which to describe it. In Hogg's fiction it results in a challenge to rigid epistemic systems and an exploration of the dangers and inadequacies of such totalising polarities. For Stevenson, it is embraced in a philosophy of 'travelling hopefully' and a literature - both fictional and critical - which attempts to find a path within this more multiplistic vision. For all three writers it results in fictional practices and strategies which subvert narrative totality and seek to create a more complex and indeterminate discourse. Writing from the self deconstructing ground of Scottish experience, Scott, Hogg and Stevenson launch a challenge to all manifestations of 'grand narrative', deconstructing their boundaries. As a result, the postmodern context is one particularly sympathetic to their formal and structural radicalism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available