By Gavin Miller
Alasdair Gray’s writing, and particularly his nice novel Lanark: A existence in 4 Books (1981), is usually learn as a paradigm of postmodern perform. This learn demanding situations that view via featuring an research that's immediately extra traditional and extra strongly radical. via examining grey in his cultural and highbrow context, and by means of putting him in the culture of a Scottish historical past of principles that has been principally missed in modern serious writing, Gavin Miller re-opens touch among this hugely individualistic artist and people Scottish and ecu philosophers and psychologists who contributed to shaping his literary imaginative and prescient of non-public and nationwide id. Scottish social anthropology and psychiatry (including the paintings of W. Robertson Smith, J.G. Frazer and R.D. Laing) might be obvious as formative impacts on Gray’s anti-essentialist imaginative and prescient of Scotland as a mosaic of groups, and of our social want for popularity, acknowledgement and the typical lifestyles. Contents: Acknowledgements advent bankruptcy One: Lanark, The White Goddess, and “spiritual communion” bankruptcy : The divided self – Alasdair grey and R.D. Laing bankruptcy 3: examining and time end: How “post-” is grey? Bibliography, Index
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Additional resources for Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (Scroll 4) (Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature)
The end point is an ethic of technical efﬁciency which today exploits a natural world previously protected by the aura of the sacred: “Nowadays” is a civilization in which the prime emblems of poetry are dishonoured. In which serpent, lion and eagle belong to the circus-tent; ox, salmon and boar to the cannery; racehorse and greyhound to the betting ring; and the sacred grove to the saw-mill. (Graves 1952: 14) Graves’s solution, however, would have appalled Adorno and Horkheimer – for it is in the same mould as the right-wing politics of Yeats, Eliot and Pound.
However, there is a vital context of literature which precedes and follows Gray, and which shows substantial analogies with his work. For every element of my reading, there is some predecessor, contemporary, or successor in Scottish literature. What is revealed by this literary environment is a common revulsion towards the theological remnants in everyday Scottish culture, coupled with an equal scepticism towards the transcendental personal relations – the spiritual communion – which might seem to overcome this inheritance.
From the armoured body to the divided self I have so far discussed, with particular reference to Lanark, how Gray’s writing presents characters detached from a suffocating society, and beset by a substitution of imaginary personal relationships for real ones. To offer a psychoanalytic reading of Gray’s ﬁction may therefore seem rather unpromising. Can psychoanalytic theory really deal with such issues? After all, psychoanalysis is typically associated with a “decentring” of the human subject: the human pretension to rational autonomy is undercut by the evidence of slips of the tongue, “unintended” yet gratifying actions, and a whole host of compulsive behaviours swept under the carpet by various defence mechanisms.
Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (Scroll 4) (Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature) by Gavin Miller