By Gavin Miller
Alasdair Gray’s writing, and particularly his nice novel Lanark: A existence in 4 Books (1981), is frequently learn as a paradigm of postmodern perform. This examine demanding situations that view by way of featuring an research that's straight away extra traditional and extra strongly radical. by means of studying grey in his cultural and highbrow context, and by means of putting him in the culture of a Scottish heritage of principles that has been mostly overlooked in modern severe writing, Gavin Miller re-opens touch among this hugely individualistic artist and people Scottish and eu philosophers and psychologists who assisted in shaping his literary imaginative and prescient of private and nationwide identification. Scottish social anthropology and psychiatry (including the paintings of W. Robertson Smith, J.G. Frazer and R.D. Laing) will be noticeable as formative affects on Gray’s anti-essentialist imaginative and prescient of Scotland as a mosaic of groups, and of our social desire 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: analyzing and time end: How “post-” is grey? Bibliography, Index
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Additional info for Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (Scroll 4) (Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature)
Indeed, Graeme and Martha eventually kill themselves in an attempt to transcend the material world. 50 Alasdair Gray Miss Partridge, however, does return to earthly community. An attempted robbery of her employer’s wages allows her a chance to display her commitment to her living fellows: She hung on gamely and grimly for death or dear life. She wouldn’t let go. […] It was other folk’s wages, girls who worked in sweat and steam, machine-minders, pressers and folders and parcellers, vanmen and vanboys, her own earned share and the manager’s salary.
Gray 1987: 238) Thaw’s “commensal” relationship with his family is empty; his real communion is with the imaginary other who inspires his artistic life. Graves would be proud of Thaw’s sense of superiority to domestic existence, and of his relative indifference to the individuality of his sexual objects: The White Goddess is anti-domestic; she is the perpetual “other woman”, and her part is difﬁcult indeed for a woman of sensibility to play for more than a few years, because the temptation to commit suicide in simple domesticity lurks in every maenad’s and muse’s heart.
The concept of communion has begun to emerge: Thaw, having cut himself off from a common life with his fellows, pursues a transcendental communion (a holy communion, of sorts) with “the white goddess”. Other works of Scottish literature contain a similar interest in personal relations – be they real and embodied (maintained, perhaps, through meals of communion), or spiritual and disembodied (with God, or a higher Platonic realm, for example). I have already hinted at some of the Scottish intellectual context surrounding the literary topos of communion – the work of Frazer and Robertson Smith may well have been inﬂuential, for example, on Friel.